Personalities | Rory Gallagher | Keeping the Faith | Guitar Heroes

Highly respected blues guitarist Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, Ireland in 1948, and grew up in Cork. After learning his trade as a teenager playing in Irish show bands, Gallagher formed the power trio Taste in 1966.

The band released two studio and two live albums. Shortly after their appearance at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, Taste split acrimoniously. Gallagher, already established as a virtuoso, went solo.

The 1970s were prolific years for Gallagher, with 10 albums to his name. Live In Europe (1972) captured his high-octane live show, and a second live album, Irish Tour (1974), sold in excess of two million copies worldwide. His later output was more sporadic, but he remained a hugely popular live attraction and toured constantly.

His formative influences were Lonnie Donegan, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie. In turn, he influenced many other guitarists, including Johnny Marr, Slash, Glenn Tipton, The Edge and Brian May. Gallagher was closely identified with his sunburst Fender Stratocaster, believed to have been the first in Ireland, which he bought in 1961, impressed with its appearance and swayed by Buddy Holly’s use of the same model. He modified the guitar several times, and after extensive use, it was extremely battered and had virtually lost its sunburst finish. The Strat was invaluable to Gallagher for its bright tone and because he could achieve a wah-wah effect by manipulating its tone control rather than using a pedal. Soloing on the Stratocaster, Gallagher created an exquisite flurry of notes on ‘Daughter Of The Everglades’ from Blueprint (1973). His other guitars included a Fender Esquire and Telecaster, Danelectro Silvertone, Gretsch Corvette and National Resophonic. A Martin D-35 was his favoured acoustic. Gallagher’s bottleneck technique was widely admired by his peers and was showcased on the title track of Calling Card (1976).

Having been in poor health for several years, Gallagher died in June 1995 from complications following a liver transplant. He is remembered as a talented singer and songwriter as well as an uncompromising musician who, although he dabbled in country, hard rock and folk, remained a bluesman at heart. 

Essential Recordings

Taste: Taste

Solo: Rory Gallagher

Solo: Irish Tour

Solo: Calling Card

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