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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Music Unknown to the Masses Ep1- Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher was born in Co.Donegal, Republic of Ireland, in March 1948. Due to his father's job with the Electrical Supply Board, his family moved around a bit, first to Derry City, then to Cork, where he called his home. Both his parents were musically inclined, and thus encouraged both their sons' interests in music. Rory first showed his talent playing the ukelele, then with playing the acoustic guitar his parents bought him and the electric guitar he bought with prize money. However, it was his purchase of a 1961 Fender Stratocaster for £100 3 years later that gave him the instrument he was most associated with throughout his entire career.
The common problem of the time being the lack of availability of records. Introducing Mr. Lonnie Donegan. Donegan frequently covered blues and folk artists. Him, and pirate radio stations, such as Radio Luxemburg, formed Rory's initial exposure to the music scene in America. He cited his influences from this time as Woody Guthrie, Big Bill Broonzy, and Lead Belly. Also around this time he began to learn many different variations on guitar playing and completely different instruments, such as harmonica, slide guitar, alto saxophone, bass, mandolin, banjo, and the coral sitar, with varying degrees of proficiency. He soon learned how to play the songs of Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran while still in school, also discovering his greatest influence in Muddy Waters.
In 1963 he began playing with showbands, touring Ireland and the UK. By 1966, he had left the showband circuit, and after playing in clubs in Hamburg, he returned to Cork and decided to form his own band.
In 1966 he formed his band, 'The Taste', which was simply renamed 'Taste', with 2 other Cork musicians, Norman Damery and Eric Kitteringham, who were later replaced with 2 Belfast musicians, John Wilson and Richard McCracken, in 1968. It's line-up was: Gallagher on guitar and vocals, Wilson on drums and McCracken on bass. They toured extensively in the UK, playing regularly at the Marquee Club in London, and even supporting Cream in their Albert Hall farewell concert and backed blues supergroup Blind Faith on their North American tour. The band broke up soon after their 1970 appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival.
The 1970's were Gallagher's most prolific period. He now toured with former Deep Joy bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Wilgar Campbell, starting with his self-titled debut solo album, Rory Gallagher. In November 1971 he released his album Deuce, and he was voted Melody Maker's International Top Musician of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton. Despite his albums reaching the UK charts, he never attained the "major star" status.
Though he recorded 10 albums in the 70s and over 30 million albums world wide, it was his amazing and mammoth live performances that won him his greatest acclaim. This can be seen in the movie "Irish Tour '74". During the period heightened of political unrest in Ireland, most acts were warned not to tour Ireland, Gallagher was resolute in touring Ireland at least once a year.
Gallagher collaberated with both Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis on their respective London sessions, and he played on Lonnie Donegan's last album. He was also considerated to replace both Ritchie Blackmore and Mick Taylor in Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones respectively. There is an oft mentioned rumour that, when asked the question "how does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world" at Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix answered "go ask Rory Gallagher".
In the 1980s he continued to record, producing the albums Jinx, Defender, and Fresh Evidence. After Fresh Evidence he began a tour of America. He also began to play with the band 'Box of Frogs', which was composed of former members of the Yardbirds. It was during this period that Gallagher began to doubt himself and become more obsessive over details.
According to his brother, Donal, Rory had a huge fear of flying, and a huge trust in doctors. The combination of prescription drugs and alcohol leads to severe liver damage. By 1995, he was visibly ill. He died in London on 14 June 1995 due to complications from a liver transplant. It was later suspected he contracted MRSA while in hospital. He was buried in Ballincollig in his native Cork.

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