Gallagher: I'd work every day if I could
                                                                                           by Pamela Holman

At last I was able to meet Rory Gallagher. Several interviews had been canceled, but now we sat in the reception area at Polydor talking about his lifelong interest in music.

I asked him when his interest in the guitar first arose.

“I must have only been about four or five years of age when I used to listen to the guitar sounds of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Guy Mitchell and whoever else was going at the time. At that age I couldn't really distinguish them. But I knew what was there all right."

“When Elvis Presley came along he really impressed me, but then I was absolutely knocked out by Lonnie Donegan because I liked his skiffle type mixture of folk and ragtime music with a bit of country blues thrown in.”

“So between Donegan on one front, and Elvis, Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, and eventually Chuck Berry on the other, my musical tastes had a good range. I was a very lucky kid, being able to hear these people at the time.”

“I didn't get my first wooden guitar until I was nine, but I had a plastic one up until then, a ukulele it was really, and I'd learnt something from that. I went on stage for the first time, a couple of weeks after I got that wooden guitar.”

“I could sing songs, but I had to learn some chords, so I worked hard at it and started doing concerts in schools, boy scout shows and the usual talent contests, with £2.10 as the first prize; I won the odd contest, but I didn't like doing them really. You'd be in deep competition with an acrobat or a dancer.”

Gallagher never had musical training. He bought the Lonnie Donegan Guitar Tutor and skiffle songbooks, and learned from them. Then, he says, he started learning from watching other people play. And gradually he taught himself.

“ I sometimes wish I'd had some training, “ he told me, “but if I had I wouldn't be playing like I'm playing now.”

“Then I tried to form a couple of groups, but I didn't really get a chance. At that time people weren't very interested, and I couldn't get anybody I liked to play with me. They were more wrapped in their traditional music – something I like myself – but at the time I was more interested in forming a rock group.”

“I got my first electric guitar when I was 12. I did have a few impromptu guitar sessions with other guitar players, but there was nothing definite. So at the age of 15, I joined the Impact Showband.”

“It was great fun and great training, as I had the opportunity to play almost every night. We played everything from Chuck Berry to Top 20 material, to Jim Reeves.”


“We had a lot of luck and toured around Europe – actually visiting England once or twice. But I eventually got sick of it because there was no imagination in our act. I left the group two years later and I went off to Hamburg with a small group which was a breakaway from the showband. Then I drifted back to Ireland.”

“By then the beat scene had become quite solid, and I met up with two musicians who'd played with Cork's top group at the time, called the Axles.”

“We got together to form the original Taste in 1967, and it went on as it was until the well known version of Taste came over here in 1968.”

“When I did the first Taste album, John and Richie were well into my music. We did a lot of gigs and made our name by playing all over the country.”

"Then another album came out a couple of months later, 'On the Boards'. They were the only two albums we officially released, but the record company brought out a live album after the split to which we hadn't really consented.”

"The public wanted and deserved another album, and the company had to find one some way.”

“Taste split up in October and I had a few things, like contracts, to sort out. I wanted to start afresh, so I got a new contract with Polydor and I went in the studio to make my first album.”

“I tried out a few musicians, but Wilgar Campbell (drums) and Gerry McAvoy (bass) were always in the back of my mind. I'd seen them in playing in Belfast over the years, so I auditioned them. And they've been with me since.”

I asked him who his main influences are.

“I've been influenced by just about everyone I've heard. You can listen to a record that's pretty awful, but they might do just one lick in a song that would leave a strong impression.”

“If Dylan or Muddy Waters bring out an album, I'll go and get them immediately because I really like their music. I'm an avid record fan, so I'm listening to a lot of things all the time. And learning all the time.”

How is the new band, I asked, going down at concerts?

“Our concerts are going very well, and I'm delighted with it all. I'm prepared to play nearly every day of the year, because if you keep working all the time you keep yourself nimble, building up on what you're playing.”

“But it's no good if you're going to retire to Cheshire for three months and pretend to write a book. It doesn't work at all. I just like to go on the road and work and work, and play and play.”

“I like traveling and seeing different places, and I enjoy being a traveling musician.”


“I treat all my performances with equal importance. I'd treat a gig in Japan the way I'd treat one in Newcastle or London. But you get some musicians standing on the stage in a remote town thinking that they needn't bother, just because it isn't London.”

“Every gig is as important as the other one. You've got to treat them all the same.”

Does he write all his own material?

“I can't say I write continually because I can go for weeks without writing a song. Then I'll maybe put down about 12 at once. But even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking mentally and building myself up to it. I always try to keep a bit of paper and pencil on me all the time in case I get inspiration on a taxi or a bus.”

And his recording plans for the future?

“My third album is in the studio, and then I may be releasing a live album which would probably be released after the studio LP.”

“The others in the band can write pretty well, I believe, but I only use them in the capacity of playing for me. Both of them come from Belfast and their playing has improved enormously in the last few months.”

“At first they weren't really used to playing my sort of music and it took them a while to adapt themselves to what I wanted. But they've grasped it now.”

They're strong and solid for my kind of music. They're right behind me just when I need them.”

From the February 19, 1972 issue of New Musical Express
background mutated from a photo with the article
reformatted by roryfan

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added 5/14/06