Regular visitors to Institute of Study Abroad may already be familiar with Rory Gallagher. Many of our tours include our neighbouring town of Ballyshannon, and we often stop for a photobeside the Rory statue. After learning a little of the Ballyshannon-born rocker’s history, they often learn forward with a conspiratorial whisper and say, “I didn’t realise he was such a big deal” Let me be honest with you, dear reader, neither did I...
Growing up a rock fan in Dublin in the 80s and 90s, I was only vaguely familiar with Rory Gallagher’s music. He’s the blues guitar guy that’s big in Germany, right? Maybe it was because Rory was all about the music and was deeply suspicious of celebrity. Maybe it was the arrogance of youth, thinking the bands of our generation were the best, or most daring, as if they had appeared out of the ether. As if they weren’t standing on the shoulders of giants. Whatever the reason, it was only the outpouring of grief after his premature death in 1995 and my subsequent exposure to the Rory Gallagher festival in Ballyshannon that the penny really dropped for me.
Rory Gallagher was born In Ballyshannon in 1948 on March 2nd. A birth date shared, incidentally, with Lou Reed, Jon Bon Jovi and Dr Niamh Hamill. Raised in Cork, he first came to prominence with Irish showband Fontana, then with acclaimed Taste. A trio to give Cream a run for their money.
But it was when he went solo that Rory really found his voice. In the 70s he released a string of successful albums and was invited to join The Rolling Stones. But that would have been too showbiz for Rory. He wanted to play his own music. And when Slash, Brian May, Alex Lifeson, Johnny Marr and The Edge all count you as a major influence you are doing the right thing. Eric Clapton credited him as the guy who got him back into Blues.
To learn more about Rory, check out the website, the treasure trove of material on YouTube or better still come to Rory Gallagher festival – 3 days of fun, friendship and exceptional guitar playing. Rory is usually best known for his foot stomping rockers but the song I have selected is a slow one. A slice of blues ballad brilliance that showcases his guitar playing of course but also his underrated singing. There are quite a few versions available, but for sound quality I have chosen this one from his debut solo album.