One great gui­tarist brought a dose of Ir­ish spirit to the blues. In this in­stal­ment Les David­son pays homage to the Celtic War­rior King.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Les David­son pays homage to the Celtic War­rior King: Rory Gallagher.

Loved and re­ferred to world­wide as a fine blues gui­tarist with ex­quis­ite taste, a great en­ter­tainer and an awe-in­spir­ing soloist, Rory Gallagher stormed onto the Bri­tish blues rock scene in 1966 with his power-rock blues band, Taste. He would go on to have a hugely suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer that was sadly cut short at the age of just 47.

Born in Ballyshan­non, County Done­gal and grow­ing up in Cork, the young Gallagher was ab­sorb­ing in­flu­ences from his mu­si­cal fam­ily but also Lon­nie Done­gan, Muddy Wa­ters, Big Bill Bronzy and Lead­belly, which nat­u­rally led him to the Chicago-based elec­tric blues play­ers. He formed Taste in 1966 along­side Eric Kit­tring­ham on bass and Nor­man Damery on drums. In 1968, the line-up changed to Char­lie McCracken on bass and John Wil­son on drums. The trio moved to Lon­don and signed to Poly­dor. The band would es­tab­lish Rory as a blues force to ri­val his Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts but with the added daz­zle of Celtic in­flu­ences. When Taste dis­banded in 1970, Rory would go on to en­joy mass in­ter­na­tional suc­cess play­ing with Jerry Lewis, Muddy Wa­ters, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dy­lan, among many oth­ers. De­spite en­joy­ing con­tin­ued suc­cess as a solo artist, Rory’s life on the road be­gan to take its toll and he died in 1995 af­ter com­pli­ca­tions fol­low­ing a liver trans­plant.

As well as play­ing gui­tar, Rory also ex­per­i­mented with alto sax, bass and banjo. But it was his beloved Fen­der Stra­to­caster that he bought in Ire­land in 1961 that ac­com­pa­nied the gui­tarist on his many tours. His in­flu­ence is still felt and he’s been cited by Brian May, Johnny Marr, James Dean Brad­field and The Edge as an in­spi­ra­tion. A gen­uine tal­ent taken too soon.

We’re in reg­u­lar tun­ing for both these ex­am­ples – Rory would adopt both stan­dard and open chord tun­ings for slide, de­pend­ing on the song. He would also use a stan­dard flat­pick or opt for pick and fin­gers, so use whichever you find most com­fort­able. He was also a force­ful and con­fi­dent player, so be sure to at­tack each note with that same gusto.


NEXT MONTH Les looks at the au­then­tic Texas blues style of Jim­mie Vaughan

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