#OTD in 1948 – Birth of guitarist, Rory Gallagher, in Donegal.

Irish blues guitarist legend Rory Gallagher is born in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.

Rory’s family moved to Cork where he discovered blues music on American Forces Radio. By the time he was twenty-one, he was recognised as one of the finest guitarists in the world. In 1971, the UK music paper Melody Maker voters gave Gallagher top spot over Eric Clapton (correctly).

Legend has it that when Jimi Hendrix was asked what it felt like to be the best guitar player in the world, he responded “I don’t know. Ask Rory Gallagher.” Although almost certainly apocryphal, the story does highlight the legend that the unassuming Gallagher became.

Off stage, Gallagher was described as painfully shy, something his adoring audiences found hard to believe. On stage, he was one of the most electrifying artists that ever played a Fender Stratocaster playing marathon concerts of more than three hours, night after night. Gallagher first broke through with Taste (drummer John Wilson, bassist Richard McCracken). The band played a blistering set at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival (where Hendrix also performed), returning for seven encores!

‘Artistic differences’ saw the demise of this power blues trio, but Gallagher went on to have a lengthy career selling more than thirty millions records in one of the most hard-gigging careers of any music legend.

Artists as diverse as U2′s Edge, Slash and Brian May state that Gallagher was a huge influence on their career.

Although, he toured the US more than twenty times, Gallagher never made it big in the world’s largest market. Some experts attribute this to the fact that he was not interested in developing commercial, radio friendly, three-minute material. The gentle giant of Irish blues died in London 14 June 1995 from complications following a liver transplant.






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3 thoughts on “#OTD in 1948 – Birth of guitarist, Rory Gallagher, in Donegal.

  1. Coincidentally, I just listened to live Gallagher on my drive from New Jersey to Ohio, U.S.A. He was very popular on the Pittsburgh radio station I listened to as a teen in the ’70s. You’re right, he never had a hit that broke him into the “big time,” although “Calling Card” was a stab in that direction. There’s a song on that live CD about 100-proof alcohol – mildly prophetic in light of how he died.

  2. I remember well the Rory Gallagher tours in the US. I am unsure who use to do his promotions here, but they would put Rory with the most strange acts. One time, at the former Philadelphia Spectrum in 1978, he was the opening act for a punk band called ‘The Backstreet Crawlers’. Entirely wrong audience. I went to see Rory, but most were there to see the Crawlers. In another tour, I saw him at the 69th Street Theater in Upper Darby, PA, and he was the opening band for ‘A Flock of Seagulls’. Again, wrong audience. When he toured by himself, in 1973, he had standing room only crowds, but most were very small venues. I believe to this day if he had proper US management, and was placed with R&B or similar acts, his popularity would have exploded in the US. Somebody seemed to want to keep him down in the US. Of course, I had all his albums (and those from Taste) numbered in plastic sheets for protection.

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