: Questions & Answers
answers questions posed by members of
The Loop Mailing List
I came up with an idea to do something a little special via The Loop
Mailing & Discussion list. Phil Hoolahan
(guitarist from the tribute band , Defender, from Scotland and a member
Loop) was doing some playing with Ted McKenna, Rory's drummer
from 1978-1982. Ted was also previously the drummer for the Sensational
Alex Harvey Band. I asked Phil to see if Ted would be up for some
questions from Loop members. We put together a collection of questions
via the Loop
for Ted to either answer or pick from.
took a bit longer than expected, but Phil got the responses to
all of the questions we sent and he forwarded them to me. Take a look
below for some GREAT reading!
to Ted and to Phil for pulling this all together! This Q&A
was posted to The Loop on 5 February 2005
A note from Ted
like to apologise for the delay replying to your questions. As I've
been busy with one thing and another it took me longer than I expected
to get down to it. I'm really pleased at the interest and I hope you'll
forgive me for taking so long.
a few types of music, with influences from early rock and blues, and
jazz etc. Personally, I think his rock music was his best feature,
although I know many others would disagree. It's been
suggested (by members of the Loop, Donal, and reporters) that Rory was
under pressure to record more hard rock stuff by the record companies
...Since you were the drummer during his hardest rock years.
you get a sense that Rory released or didn't release any particular
get the record companies off his back? Or was he just going through a
that many musicians go through during the course of a career
I was never
aware, at any time, of pressure on Rory to record more rocky material.
There may have been things going on behind the scenes but he never
spoke about it. I know it might seem strange now, especially after
hearing fans opinion of my playing, but all I did was react to his
guitar and idea's for songs. I never consider that my style was
affecting his musical agenda.
have played in many different situations and styles. I think of myself
first of all as a drummer. Not of any particular style. Again that
might seem strange considering all the Rock guitarists I've worked
with. (Zal Cleminson, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker....) I always try to
get the feel of the music whatever style it is. I always tried to give
Rory back the energy he gave me. Like you said, maybe it was a natural
shift but it seemed to work and I really enjoyed it.
I'd like to ask
Ted if he knows the last time that Rod & Lou played in Rory's band.
from looking at the "RoryOn!! timeline" that he may have been finishing
off some gigs with Rod and Lou after I had met and played with him in Air
London Studio's. I'm not sure. I rehearsed with him and Gerry in” The Point"
Victoria, London, for about a week before going to The Macroom Festival. But
that was maybe a week or two after Air Studio. His last gig with them could
well have been Hammersmith Odeon. Gerry would probably remember better.
Incidentally, I also supported Rory with my first band The Rare Breed,
in "The Place," Edinburgh. It must have been around 1968, although I
thought it was earlier, Taste's first time in Scotland Norman Damery
(dr.) Eric Kitteringham
(b.) I still have their autographed promo photograph somewhere.
performance would you like to see released, in either DVD or CD
format and why?
playing support to Queen at a Festival in Germany. We came straight
from the Airport and didn't have any sound check, straight on in front
of a huge 70,000 + crowd. I used a hired kit but there was no time to adjust
it to my preference. We did a fine set and Rory was great, as usual.
Unfortunately by the end of our set I was really pissed off and did
something really out of character. I kicked the drums off the riser.
The crowd went crazy. Queen had a huge "E.T." lighting rig, which broke
down and spoiled their night a bit but not to be out-done Roger Taylor
kicked his kit off as well. Not the kind of thing Rory would approve
of, or myself for that matter, but I didn't feel so bad and I think the
crowd liked it. That would have looked good on DVD.
were you're first impressions of The Rory Gallagher Band, yourself
included, the first time you played with Rory? Was there any difference
between your first live gig and the first time you went to studio?
had rehearsed for a week I thought I had things reasonably under
control. I was getting the hang of the songs and adjusting to the
energy level. I spent most of my time, on the flight to Ireland, with
listening and making notes. Unfortunately I wasn't prepared for the
energy level of the stage performance. We came off before the encore,
to a backstage, caravan, dressing room and Rory looked as if he was
going to pass out with
exhaustion. My hands were bleeding and I was thinking "What have you
let yourself in for McKenna?" That kind of sums it up although I got
used to it after a while and really began to enjoy it. The studio
wasn't such a shock to
would you say has been your highest musical peak? In other words your
favourite show, song, moment, era, etc.? Not necessarily meaning time
spent with RG.
my first real gig to a real live audience in Whitburn Miners Welfare or
SAHB opening with "The Faith Healer" as the sun went down at the
Reading Festival, one of my favourite moments was The Ulster Hall on
His mum was there and I think Wilgar Campbell came along. I felt there
was a lot of love around and for the first time really
appreciated how special Rory was to Ireland. It felt like family and
there was a magical feeling about the
Anyway I had what I can only describe as an "Out of body experience."
Roland, (A fine Belgian musician and songwriter.) who did our support,
came on to do "Got My Mojo Workin'" as part of the encore. The place
was going crazy when
suddenly I felt as if I wasn't on stage but looking down on myself
playing drums. I was very aware that every time I hit the snare drum
the crowd jumped about three feet into the air. It was very primitive.
I felt like I
was sitting in the middle of some kind of primitive voodoo ritual and
everyone in the hall was part of it. How unusual and strange. I'd never
experienced it before or after that night. (I suspect Mr. John Daniels
shared my experience that night as he was often seen in the company of
an evening prior to that show.)
4) Who is
your favourite performer these days? What are you listening to?
say I find myself going back to my old influences when I get a chance.
I know there's some great new stuff out there but I don't have the time
to search it out. In no particular order and only some of my
favourites: Steely Dan,
Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, The Cream, Charlie Mingus, Weather Report,
Randy Newman, The Band, Tower of Power, Buddy Rich, Steve Miller, Bruce
Hornsby, Miles Davis, Little Feet, Bela Bartok, Herbie Hancock,
Bruce, Bill Hicks, The Beatles, John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Eddie
Harris. Sorry I'll be here all night... there are too many.
5) (Ties in
with #2) did you ever feel in competition with Rod or Wilgar, or were
you comfortable with the fact that you brought as much to the band as
really thought about it. It never crossed my mind.
these questions aren't too lame...
They are fine,
really like the drum part and arrangement at the end of the studio
version of "Follow Me”.... can Ted remember how that came about?
really can't remember how it happened. Normally when we rehearsed a new
song Rory would go through the changes with Gerry and then either he
might suggest a feel or in most cases I would just react to it off the
top of my head. By the time we got to recording I would have some
idea's for sounds like for instance the 22" China type I used on the
outro. As far as drum fills, I liked to do them in the moment to try
and keep the spontaneity.
2) I love
the track "Just Hit Town" also on Top Priority, but I've never heard a
live version of it. Did the band ever play that song and what does Ted
think about it?
ever play it live. It's one of these songs you do in the studio that
never makes it to stage. Every album usually has a few of them. For
some reason they don't fit with the other songs you do in a particular
set and it's not because they are not good songs. From my experience
it's usually because it's too near the tempo of something from another
album that you always do because its popular, so you never get to play
it live. I hadn't heard it for a while until you asked the question. It
really jumps doesn't it?
3) At the
time Rory broke up his quartet, they were one of the most popular bands
in the UK and elsewhere. When "Photofinish" came out, at that point of
time a lot of long time Rory fans were a bit surprised at
to a trio, and the greater emphasis on simpler Rock numbers and the
lack of an "acoustic" track? Was Ted aware at the time of the change in
honest I wasn't fully aware of Rory’s standing in the musical community
at that time. I’d just spent 6 years touring Britain, Europe and
America with SAHB and although I was used to seeing big Rory posters in
Germany, for instance, our schedule was so busy that we didn't get time
to see too many other bands unless we were on the same bill. So to
answer your question, No I wasn't aware of the change in his emphasis.
Laurie. (It's late here)
1. What was
in Rory's personal music collection ?
ever see his personal collection so I can't comment but I'm looking at
a tape Rory made up for me when I first joined him. It's something I'll
always treasure. He called it “Blues Mixture” I gather it represents at
least the part of his record collection that he considered to be his
main blues influences. I'll just give you the names in order from the
inlay card as he wrote them. Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Earl Hooker,
Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Bo Diddley, John Hammond, ZZ Top, Slim
Harpo, Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters. He also
turned me on to Johnny Paycheck and Clifton Chenier when we were on
Did he play piano at all?
played a bit but I never heard him.
I would love to
know from Ted how Rory rehearsed the band. Did they collaborate on new
numbers or did Rory direct them in detail on the arrangements. How much
rehearsal time did they get before and during tours?
recent Rockpalast DVD it is obvious how songs evolved over time but it
would be interesting to know how prepared they were before a song got
its first outing.
Rory would go through the changes of a new song with Gerry and then I’d
join in on the feel. If Rory was happy, then that was it. Sometimes
he'd have a particular thing in mind but usually it was “follow my
instincts” and just trying to get the right performance when it came to
the recording studio.
I think I
had about a week's rehearsal before my first gig at The Macroom
Festival. After that I don't remember. We were on the road most of the
time and I think the older songs just got better or “evolved” from
playing them live. I'm not sure but I think we would have a week or
two's rehearsal before each album but as far as the road, it was
straight out there with the addition of any newly recorded songs that
would fit in the set.
(written to john ganjamie),
looking up some stuff about Ted on your website and in some articles I have
and I was just reading the March 1979 Creem (your article #28)
says that the last gig Rory did with Rod and Lou was the Hammersmith
Odeon. I looked on Joachim's timeline and that show would have been
April 29, 1978. Do you think Ted could confirm that?
Brenda; I have no idea when they last played with Rory. (Better ask
four of them still together when Ted was auditioned I think in every
article I've read that mentions Ted they all refer to him as the former
SAHB drummer. Was Ted aware of this and did he get much press when he
was the SAHB drummer?
I had no idea what the situation was. After we'd had a play together in
Air studios on London, I went up to Scotland to see my parents and
didn't hear from Donal for maybe a week at least when he called saying
it was “Rehearsals day after tomorrow at the Point, Victoria, London.”
SAHB got a
lot of press and I got mentioned with the band many times... I think
players get mentioned a lot in their new context as being “former/
/whoever.” Goes with the territory.
comfortable was Ted going into the studio so soon after joining the
band to record Photo Finish and did the six week deadline that Chysalis
imposed put pressure on the band?
Macroom Open-Air Festival Ted's 1st official gig with Rory and Gerry?
And if so,
was this the type of show he would have picked for his debut or would
he have preferred something more intimate like a club?
was used to playing big festivals so it didn't really matter. The
change in style and pace from SAHB would have been a shock on any stage
was his final gig with Rory?
des Sports 2/19/1981, Paris, France
What was it
like to play the Reading Rock Festival in 1980?
I’d played it three times with SAHB. I really enjoyed doing it with
What is his
favourite gig he did with Rory and why?
answered this for Ron earlier (Belfast, on Rory’s birthday.)
Phil Hoolahan really like?
guitar player, I guess he's not such a bad sort. He'll probably get
better after the treatment. Of all the many, many guitarists I've
played with in the last 39 years, He's one of them…..No seriously he's
a fine player and a good bloke. (Don't tell him I said that.)
to everyone who e-mailed for the delay in answering.
All the best,
Many thanks to Ted McKenna and
to Phil Hoolahan for getting this Q&A to us
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