Rory Gallagher: Blues Boy Beats The Sequin Set  

"At the expense of losing face and image," Rory Gallagher explains in his soft Irish accent, "I am a working musician. I have an idea where I fit into the music scene today, but I don't worry about it. I just try to stay on the outside and go on my merry way."

Rory's just finished his third tour of America. He's played both small outdoor festivals and large ones, he's seconded the bill to the Faces at Madison Square Garden and left the crowd screaming for more, he's gone to tiny towns in the Midwest and wowed audiences in high school auditoriums, and, all the while his latest release, Rory Gallagher Live (Polydor) is racing up the charts. "A lot of musicians aren't prepared to come over here and work all the places, but that's the only way," Rory explains. "You have to play all the places so people can see you and make up their minds about you."  
Sitting in a tiny, cluttered room on the 38th floor of a modem New York office building which houses Polydor Records, Rory looks around unhappily and admits, "I wish there was a drink in this place ... in England they always give you something to drink when you come into the office." The want of a drink soon fades as Rory gets into talking about being a musician. He is probably one of the most successful musicians in the world. No matter where he goes, no matter where he plays, no matter who is topping the bill (in Europe he tops the bill) this ex-member of the British group, Taste, is getting audiences off from coast to coast, from continent to continent.

Popping the Cork with his blues:
Gallagher is a medium build, anonymous looking 24-year-old. Cascades of chestnut brown hair, cut into a rather
impressive shag are Rory's only concession to current fashion. Blue eyes, McCartney-ish in shape and size, smile above a healthy glowing country complexion. He arrived in London from Cork, Ireland five years ago. "I always go back to Ireland when I've got a week off," Rory admits. "I just hang out in London. I like London, but it's different. When you are an Irishman you can never really call it home."

sequin.jpgThe new live album only half captures the impact of Rory Gallagher live. Gallagher is a blues musician extraordinaire. "I never play the ultimate blues," Rory tries to explain as his eyes wander out over a New York sunset on the Hudson River. "I play my own songs, I don't just play the blues the way Paul Butterfield does. He  just does old songs and other people's material. There's plenty of room for movement in the whole blues thing. Playing the blues for me is a means to an end."

Rory revved up his first guitar when he was nine years old. He eventually moved into what he calls a  "Showband," a cabaret-type ballroom band. He stayed with this for several years while learning his trade and eventually formed the first Taste. Taste 2 came later, and they moved to England, where their success is musical history. Taste members, however, could never reconcile themselves to being a back-up band for Rory's talents, so Rory moved on to a "solo" career. The musicians he plays with now know they are only background to Rory's voice and guitar, and that's the way he wants it to stay. Though not a flashy performer onstage, his fans know that when he removes his dungaree jacket and rolls up his right sleeve he is getting down to it and commencing to boogie. 

Rory Gallagher; In Belfast, he made
music to bomb by, and joined the
ranks of Britain's national heroes. 

Belfast bash in the war zone:
Gallagher's biggest publicity spread came earlier this year when he played a concert in Belfast, Ireland. It was on record -  the first, last and only rock concert in Ireland since the fighting began. Did it occur to Rory that he was doing anything particularly unusual? "No," he recalls, explaining "I'm just an Irishman. I treat the whole country as Ireland without separating it into North and South. So, we just did it. Of course, there were a lot of bombs that night. The English rock papers came to look on it as some great heroic deed, but it didn't strike me that way. Others could see the dangers that I couldn't see because I'm Irish.

Listen to Rory as he rocks his way through "Messin' With The Kid" and "Bullfrog Blues." While the rest of the music biz dons its sequins and satins, Rory Gallagher is making his way to the top on a wave of rhythm and blues. Will Rory Gallagher ever give up his denim jacket and find happiness in a flashing pink jacket? Will his already beautiful blue eyes find themselves enhanced by silver glitter? Rory laughs when the question is put to him: "I've already ordered it...... a hundred pounds of silver glitter....and that's only for the left eye!"

He's kidding of course, because Rory Gallagher's shine comes when he's up onstage holding his beat-up old Stratocaster, playing the hell out of it and making his own variation on the old rhythm and blues themes sing again.

This article comes from a 1972 issue of CIRCUS magazine
reformatted by roryfan
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added 7/23/06