One great guitarist brought a dose of Irish spirit to the blues. In this instalment Les Davidson pays homage to the Celtic Warrior King.
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.
HARDLY A DAY GOES BY WITHOUT ME STICKING ON A MUDDY WATERS RECORD RORY GALLAGHER
NEXT MONTH Les looks at the authentic Texas blues style of Jimmie Vaughan