Rory Gallagher Biography

2 March 1948, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, Eire, d. 14 June 1995, London, England. Having served his musical apprenticeship in the Fontana and Impact Showbands, Gallagher put together the original Taste in 1965. This exciting blues-based rock trio rose from regional obscurity to the verge of international fame, but broke up acrimoniously five years later. Gallagher was by then a guitar hero and embarked on a solo voyage supported by Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Wilgar Campbell (drums). He introduced an unpretentious approach, which marked a career that deftly retained all the purpose of the blues without erring on the side of excessive reverence. Gallagher’s early influences were Lonnie Donegan, Woody Guthrie, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters and he strayed very little from those paths. The artist’s refreshing blues guitar work, which featured his confident bottleneck playing, was always of interest and by 1972 Gallagher was a major live attraction. Campbell was replaced by Rod De’ath following the release of Live In Europe, while Lou Martin was added on keyboards.

This line-up remained constant for the next six years and was responsible for Gallagher’s major commercial triumphs, Blueprint and Irish Tour. De’ath and Martin left the group in 1978. Former Sensational Alex Harvey Band drummer Ted McKenna joined the ever-present McAvoy but was in turn replaced by Brendan O’Neill. Former Nine Below Zero member and blues harmonica virtuoso Mark Feltham became a full-time ‘guest’, as Gallagher quietly continued with his career.

Shunning the glitzy aspect of the music business, Gallagher toured America over 30 times in addition to touring the globe twice. His record sales reached several millions and he retained a fiercely loyal following. He had several opportunities to record with his heroes, such as Donegan, Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis and Albert King, and his love for his homeland resulted in contributions to the work of the Fureys, Davy Spillane and Joe O’Donnell. Gallagher retained his perennial love for the blues, his original Stratocaster guitar (now badly battered) and the respect of many for his uncompromising approach. Shy and without any enemies, he died following complications after a liver transplant in 1995. Since his death most of his back catalogue has been remastered and this has led to the obligatory reappraisal. He sang with great heart and could play his Stratocaster like a familiar demon, with both sounding effortlessly natural. He was, like many others, under-appreciated during his lifetime.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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