Phil Short explores the stylings of a legend of blues-rock guitar, and perhaps one of the guys who started it all, the brilliant Rory Gallagher.
Rory Gallagher is one of the most important guitarists in blues and rock. He was a catalyst in influencing many great guitarists, including the legendary Brian May. Starting from his humble origins of the city of Cork in Ireland, Rory took the world by storm, moving the likes of Jimi Hendrix to consider him as one of the best guitarists the world had ever seen.
After spending his formative years on the Irish showband circuit, Rory was hungry to set his horizons way beyond this, and set up his power trio, Taste. This band would see Rory hit the UK scene and begin a long term residency at the Marquee club - the go-to venue for live music and serious up and coming talent, and frequented by many now legendary musicians.
It was at these nights that Rory’s playing style captured the heart of a young Brian May, and it was Rory who gave him the secret ingredients to his guitar tone. A Vox AC30 and a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster. This gave Rory his unique and inspiring guitar tone, coupled with his trusty Fender Strat. They say that tone is in the fingers, and this is proof enough, that with such a simple setup, Rory achieved his unique sound and flavour.
These shows were significant for Rory, and are testament to the importance of a real live music scene, with even the likes of John Lennon becoming a regular fan of his Marquee shows. They also led to support slots with Cream, Blind Faith, and live album recordings at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival.
But as with many great bands, internal politics with various management disputes led to Taste playing a farewell gig on New Years Eve 1970. Rory, however, would not be defeated and embarked on his solo career and in 1971 released his self-titled album. The music then came thick and fast and Rory became an international touring sensation. By the 1990s he had toured the US 25 times and had had the most appearances at Reading and Montreux Festivals than any other artist.
Rory’s legacy was cut short in 1995 at just 47, when he collapsed from liver failure on stage. He later died in hospital after catching an infection. Despite his tragic death, Rory still captures the hearts of today’s music fans, with his unique style and melodic sensibilities living on through other iconic guitarists.
NEXT MONTH Phil checks out Virginia’s Teletoting blues woman, Deborah Coleman
Rory is famous for using a battered Fender Strat into Vox AC30 amps with his secret weapon, the Dallas Rangemaster treble booster hitting the front end for more saturation. Single-coils are best to authentically re-create his tone, but a split humbucker may get you close. Lots of top end is needed, so back off the mids and bass. Any slightly crunchy amp with a low-gain overdrive or boost pedal will help you get close.
“Rory’s playing captured the heart of a young Brian May, and it was Rory who gave him the secret ingredients to his tone”