Rory Gallagher

Each issue of "Guitar Teacher" will feature a short profile on one of the Registry's patrons. Sadly for the first issue, our profile has become an obituary, Tony Skinner tips his hat to a blues great.....

Rory Gallagher was in many ways the epitome of rock blues electric guitar least this side of the Atlantic. Born in County Donegal, he began playing the guitar a the age of 9, and after a brief period in showbands formed the legendary Taste at the tender age of 16. Even at this stage, Rory’s playing was fiery and furious and his stated influences ranged from Big Bill Broonzy, though Hank Marvin and Chuck Berry to Muddy waters and Freddie King. By 1972, Rory was voted Guitarist of the Year by Melody Maker. By 1995, Rory had accumulated sales of several million records via 10 chart albums. Even though he was fighting illness over the last few years, he continued on playing and working on a new album. Honed by over 20 tours in the USA, live performances had become his forte, with few players matching him for energy and enthusiasm. But Rory had always shunned any form of rock star trappings and musically refused to compromise the originality of the roots of his music.

Rory was also an avid acoustic player in the Ledbelly tradition and is said to have insisted that his students should start on the acoustic guitar to 'toughen them up'. He provided support to the Registry and out examination syllabus.

His recent obituary in the Belfast Telegraph sums this up:

"A legacy to Irish guitar start Rory Gallagher lives on through new exams to boost the status of fellow musicians. Before his death, Gallagher had joined other leading figures, including Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze and the legendary Hank Marvin of the Shadows, to become a patron of the Registry of Electric Guitar Tutors. Affiliated to the London College of Music, the Registry has produced the first full range of officially accredited qualifications for electric guitar musicians. Rory was looking at this as the way forward. He realised you could still rock and roll, but you could learn to do it in a structured way. Rory realised it was the future and it would bring the standards of young players up. The electric guitar, unlike the violin of the classical guitar, has always been ignored and not taken seriously until now."

Nearly 15,000 people lined the streets of Cork on June 19th to pay their last respects to this great guitar legend. Tributes have poured in from fans, registry members and rock music personalities such as Gary Moore, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, U2 and Van Morrison.

On a personal note, Rory provided great encouragement and inspiration to my own guitar playing and I'm sure that through his music and legacy his spirit will live on.

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