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Rory Gallagher (pronounced "Roar-ie Gall-a-her") was an Irish blues/rock guitarist. Born in Ballyshannonmarker, County Donegalmarker, Irelandmarker on March 2, 1948, he grew up in Cork Citymarker. He is best known for his solo albums throughout the 1970's and 1980's, and for his tenure in the band Taste during the late 1960s. A multi-instrumentalist who gained a reputation as a gifted and charismatic live performer, Rory Gallagher's albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide. He died in Londonmarker, Englandmarker on June 14, 1995.


Gallagher's first bands were showbands, such as Fontana and Impact, which played the popular hits of the day. In 1965 he turned The Impact into an R&B group which played gigs in Ireland and Spain. Having completed a musical apprenticeship in the showbands, and influenced by the increasing popularity of beat groups during the early 1960s, Gallagher formed Taste, a blues and R&B trio, in 1966. The group initially consisted of Gallagher and two Cork musicians, Norman Damery and Eric Kitteringham, but the line-up which gained fame was formed in 1967, featuring Gallagher on guitar and vocals, John Wilson (drums) and Richard McCracken (bass). Performing extensively in the United Kingdom, the group gained a reputation on the London rock scene. High profile performances included a residency at the Marquee Clubmarker, supporting Cream at their Royal Albert Hallmarker farewell concert, and supporting a major-blues supergroup, Blind Faith, on a US tour. Managed by Eddie Kennedy, the trio released the albums Taste and On The Boards, and made two live recordings, Live At Montreux and Live At The Isle Of Wight. The latter appeared long after the band's break-up, which occurred shortly after their appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival.

1970s After Taste

Gallagher playing his Fender Telecaster, in Toronto, 1977 Photo: Jean-Luc Ourlin

After the break-up of Taste, Gallagher toured under his own name, hiring former Deep Joy bass player Gerry McAvoy to play on 'Rory Gallagher', an eponymous debut album. Thus began a twenty year musical relationship between Gallagher and McAvoy; Wilgar Campbell performed on drums.

The 1970s were Gallagher's most prolific period. He produced ten albums in that decade, including two live albums, Live In Europe and Irish Tour '74, which, for many, best captured his bands' raw and naturally dynamic qualities. . In 1972 he released the album Deuce, which is essentially three-piece R&B. Also in that year he was voted Melody Maker's Top Musician of the Year, ahead of Eric Clapton. Live In Europe has been commercially successful not only in Ireland, but also internationally.

Gallagher played and recorded what he said was "in me all the time, and not just something I turn on ...". Though he sold over thirty million albums world wide, it was his marathon live performances that won him greatest acclaim. His passion and skill for the blues is documented in the 1974 film Irish Tour '74, directed by Tony Palmer.

The line-up which included Rod De'Ath on drums and Lou Martin on keyboards, performed together between 1973 and 1978. Other release highlights from that period include Against the Grain, the jazz-tinged Calling Card album (assisted in production by Roger Glover (bassist with Deep Purple) and the hard blues-rock albums Photo Finish and Top Priority. Gerry McAvoy has stated that the Gallagher band performed several TV and radio shows across Europe, including Beat Club in Bremen and Old Grey Whistle Test. Along with Little Feat and Roger McGuinn, Gallagher performed the first Rockpalast live concert at the Grugahalle, Essen, Germanymarker in 1977.

A dedicated follower of blues music, Gallagher played with many of the genre's biggest stars, collaborating with Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis on their respective London Sessions in the mid 70s. Gallagher was also invited to audition with The Rolling Stones following the departure of Mick Taylor and with Canned Heat after the departure of The Eagle. He was David Coverdale's second choice (after Jeff Beck) to replace Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple.

In the 1980s he continued recording, albeit at a slower pace, producing Jinx, Defender, and Fresh Evidence. These albums progressed towards a more mature blues style. After Fresh Evidence, he embarked on a successful tour of the United States.


Gallagher's health and his ability to perform were increasingly compromised by excessive use of alcohol, combined with drugs that had been prescribed to alleviate his anxiety about flying. From the late 1980s, he suffered increasingly poor health, yet he continued touring. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in the Netherlands, he was visibly unwell. A liver transplant became necessary and was nearly successful, but just before being discharged from the hospital, an MRSA infection developed. His health quickly worsened and he died in London on 14 June 1995. He was unmarried and had no children.

Gallagher's final resting place is in St Oliver's Cemetery, on Model Farm Road just outside Ballincolligmarker near Cork City, Ireland. His headstone is a replica of an award he received in 1972 for International Guitarist of The Year.


In 2003, Wheels Within Wheels, a collection of acoustic tracks, was released posthumously by Gallagher's brother Donal Gallagher. Collaborators on this album included Bert Jansch,Martin Carthy, The Dubliners and Lonnie Donegan.

Many modern day musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Velvet Revolver, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, also Joe Bonamassa, and Brian May of Queen, cite Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.

Guitars and equipment

Gallagher's Stratocaster

Rory's Stratocaster on display in Dublin in 2007
A life-size bronze sculpture in the shape of Rory Gallagher's Stratocaster at Rory Gallagher Corner in Dublin's Temple Bar.
Gallagher was always associated with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351), which his brother Donal has officially retired. It was reputedly the first in Ireland, and was ordered from Fender by Jim Connolly, a showband member performing with The Irish Showband. Connolly ordered a cherry red Stratocaster through a music shop in Cork. When Fender shipped a sunburst Stratocaster instead, it went on sale as a second-hand instrument, which Gallagher bought for just shy of £100 at Crowley's Music Store on Corkmarker's McCurtain Street. The guitar was extensively modified by Gallagher. The tuning pegs, for a start, are odd (5 Sperzel pegs and one Gotoh), and all of these have been found to be replacements. Secondly, it is thought that the nut has been replaced and interchanged a number of times. Thirdly, the scratchplate was changed during Gallagher's time with Taste. Another change was made regarding the pickups, of which none are original. The final modification was that of the wiring: Gallagher disconnected the bottom tone pot and rewired it so he had just a master tone control along with the master volume control. He also installed a 5-way selector switch in place of the vintage 3-way one. The most notable effect that years of touring have had is the almost complete removal of the guitar's original sunburst finish, due to Gallaghers rare blood type which caused his sweat to be unusually acidic. although the Strat was left abandoned in a ditch, in the rain, for days after being stolen, this isn't believed to have caused any of the effect. All of the wear is caused by playing, not misuse! It also had a period of time of having a replacement neck, with the original bowing due to the amount of moisture it absorbed during continuous touring. The neck was taken off the strat and left to settle, eventually returning to it's correct shape and being reunited with the Strat. Other quirks include a 'hump' in the scratch plate which moves the neck pickup closer to the neck on the bass side and a replacement of all of the pickups, though this replacement was due to damage rather than a perception of a tonal inadequacy. One final point of interest is that one of the clay double-dot inlays at the 12th fret fell out and was replaced with a plastic one, which is why it is whiter than the other clay inlays.

Other instruments

Gallagher owned a number of other instruments, including:

Coral SitarPurchased for $1500 in New Jerseymarker by Donal Gallagher. Used for playing the song "Philby" live.

Danelectro SilvertoneThis guitar was bought for $15 from a pawnshop. It was often used in Gallagher's live set to play "Cradle Rock" and "A Million Miles Away".

Fender EsquireThis guitar dating to 1959 was heavily modified. It started off as a stock Esquire in cream and ended up as a black Telecaster. At one point in between, Gallagher put a Strat pickup in the middle position and added a 5-way selector.

Gibson Les Paul JuniorSeen in the above picture.

Fender Telecaster (1967)This was very similar to the Esquire after the Esquire had undergone all of its modifications. It can be seen in action on Gallagher's Live at Rockpalast DVD in the song "Bullfrog Blues".

Gretsch Corvette (1963)Bought in a pawn shop in L.A. for $50 by Donal Gallagher. It soon became one of Rory's favourite guitars.

Acoustic GuitarsGallagher's preferred acoustic guitar was a Martin D-35. In his later years, he used an Electro-Acoustic Takamine (a prototype model given to him by Takamine while he was touring Japan) that was much easier to amplify in a live context.

Martin MandolinThis was used most famously in Gallagher's joint effort with Lonnie Donegan, "Goin' To My Hometown".

National Resonator (1932)Gallagher used this to play blues standards and acoustic sets and often used a heavy steel slide with it.

Other InstrumentsGallagher also played the saxophone, showcased on the song "On The Boards" by Taste, and harmonica, which can be heard on the songs "I'm Not Surprised", "I Could've Had Religion" and "Banker's Blues".

Amplifiers and effects

Gallagher used various makes and models of amplifiers during his career. In general, however, he preferred smaller 'combo' amplifiers to the larger, more powerful 'stacks' popular with rock and hard rock guitarists. To make up for the relative lack of power on stage, he would often link several different combo amps together.

When Gallagher was with Taste, he used a single Vox AC30 with a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster plugged into the 'normal' input. Examples of this sound can be heard on the Taste albums, as well as the album Live in Europe. Brian May, of the band Queen, has admitted in interviews that as a young man, he was inspired to use a similar amplifier and treble booster setup after meeting Gallagher and asking him how he got his sound. The British company, Flynn Amps, now makes a Rory Gallagher Signature Hawk Treble Booster pedal based on Rory's original unit. Gallagher has also been known to have used Ibanez Tube Screamers and various Boss effects.

In the early to mid 1970s, Gallagher began to use Fender amplifiers in conjunction with a Hawk booster, most notably a Bassman and a Twin, both of a 50s vintage. An example of this sound can be heard on the Irish Tour '74 album. He also had a Fender Concert amplifier.

In the mid to late 1970s, when Gallagher was moving towards a hard rock sound, he experimented with Ampeg VT40 and VT22 amps. He also began using Marshall combos. During this period and beyond, Gallagher used different combinations of amps on stage to achieve more power and to blend the tonal characteristics of different amps including Orange amplification.




  • On 25 October 1997 a tribute sculpture to Gallagher was unveiled in the newly renamed Rory Gallagher Place (formerly St. Paul's St. Square) in Corkmarker. The sculptor was a childhood friend of Rory, Geraldine Creedon. The two had grown up together in the McCurtain Street area of the city. The band who played at the unveiling of the statue was the Dave McHugh band, who formed Ireland's first tribute to Rory, 'Aftertaste' in 1995.
  • Comic book artist Timothy Truman is also a fan, and GrimJack #4: Legacy has a cover and story line utilizing Gallagher's image.
  • There is a Rory Gallagher Exhibition located in Ballyshannon, Ireland, which contains a detailed history of his life and many items of memorabilia.
  • There are a number of Rory Gallagher tribute bands, many of whom perform at the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival in Ballyshannon.
  • A theatre in Ballyshannon has been renamed as the Rory Gallagher Theatre.
  • There is a Rory Gallagher Corner at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar, Dublinmarker.
  • A life-size bronze statue in the shape of his Stratocaster has been installed at Rory Gallagher Corner in Dublin's Temple Bar. Some of those who attended the unveiling include The Edge of U2 and the Lord Mayor of Dublin.
  • In 2004 the Rory Gallagher Music Library was opened in Cork.[40181]
  • A street in Ris-Orangis, a town in the Paris suburbs, was renamed Rue Rory Gallagher.
  • The French town of Bedoin in Vaucluse at the base of Mont Ventoux has a street named after Rory Gallagher in the old town, "Impasse Rory Gallagher"

  • Irish musician John Spillane released a tribute song "A Song For Rory Gallagher" on his album Hey Dreamer.
  • Irish singer [Fiona Kennedy] Released a tribute song written by cork blues guitarist ' called "The Silence of the Blues"
  • French musician Dan Ar Braz released a tribute song "Gwerz Rory" on his album La Mémoire des Volets Blancs.
  • English rock band The Wave Pictures recorded a song about Gallagher entitled "Live in Europe" on their 2004 album The Airplanes at Brescia.
  • Flynn Amps have manufactured a Rory Gallagher signature Hawk pedal cloned from Rory's actual 70's pedal. [40182]


Studio Albums

Live Albums


  • The Story So Far (1974) Best-of
  • Sinner... And Saint (1975) Compilation of Rory Gallagher and Deuce
  • Take It Easy Baby (1976) Taste demo sessions
  • Etched In Blue (1992) (BPI: 60,000) Best-of
  • A Blue Day For The Blues (1995) Best-of
  • Last of the Independants (1995) Best-of, two disk
  • BBC Sessions (1999) One live disk, one studio disk
  • Wheels Within Wheels (2003) Acoustic
  • Big Guns: The Very Best Of Rory Gallagher (2005) Best-of, two disk
  • The Essential (2008) Best-of, two disk
  • Crest of a Wave: The Best of Rory Gallagher (2009) Best-of, two disk

Box Sets


  • Irish Tour 1974 (2000)
  • At Rockpalast (2004) German release
  • The Complete Rockpalast Collection (2005) 3 disk, German release
  • Songs & Stories: New York Remembers Rory Gallagher (2005) Biography
  • Live At Cork Opera House (2006) UK release
  • Live In Cork (2006) USA release
  • Live At Montreux (2006) 2 disk
  • Live At Rockpalast (5 Concerts 1976 - 1990) (2007) 3 disk, USA release
  • Shadow Play (5 Concerts 1976 - 1990) (2007) 3 disk, UK release

  • The Old Grey Whistle Test: Vol. 1 (2003) Track: Hands Off (1973)

Guest appearances

See also


  1. Prologue: Can't believe it's True, retrieved 26 March, 2008
  2. Irish Connectionsmag
  3. Buckley, Peter (ed.) (2003). The Rough Guide To Rock, pp. 409-10. Rough Guides Ltd. ISBN 1843531054.
  4. Defender of the blues
  5. [McAvoy, Gerry and Pete Chrisp (2005) Riding Shotgun: 35 Years on the Road with Rory Gallagher and Nine Below Zero. Kent: SPG Triumph; page 82]
  6. [1]
  7. Essential CD and Book
  8. Rory Gallagher official site
  • [RoryON!! An extensive collection of articles about Rory]

External links

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