Rory Gallagher (March 2, 1948 - June 14, 1995) was an Irish guitar player, songwriter and blues- and bluesrock musician who spearheaded the entire Irish rock movement and significantly influenced his time and the music of the 1970s and 1980s.
Born in 1948 in Ballyshannon and raised in Cork, Gallagher’s “rock ‘n roll odyssey” began at an early age when he saw Elvis Presley on TV and became inspired to get his first guitar at the age of eight. Rory would listen and learn from the likes of Lonnie Donegan, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters and Jerry Lee Lewis, many of whom Rory went on to record with.
While still at school during his early teens, Rory began playing with professional show bands throughout Ireland, whose repertoires included all the popular hits of the day. Not musically satisfied with this, Rory converted his latter showband The Impact into a six-piece R’n’B outfit and headed for Hamburg in the mid-1960s. On arrival, this line-up was soon trimmed down to his first trio.
Rory went on to form the power trio Taste in 1966, a band who soon met with wide acclaim, and subsequently headed for London where they were an immediate success at London’s famed Marquee Club. One of the highlights was the gig at the Isle Of Wight Festival on August 28, 1970.
When Taste disbanded at the end of 1970, Rory went on to a successful solo career. From his first solo albums (Rory Gallagher and Deuce) in 1971 through to 1990’s acclaimed Fresh Evidence and beyond, Rory Gallagher sold many millions of albums worldwide and toured the globe several times, mounting more than 25 tours in the US alone.
Following extensive tours of Europe throughout 1972, Rory followed up with the album Live In Europe, a top ten triumph both in the UK and internationally. While touring the US solo for the first time, he was voted Melody Maker’s Top Musician Of The Year, and to cap off the album became Rory’s first gold album, and his second chart album success in the States.
In 1973, Rory changed the line-up of his band and released a further two successful albums, Blueprint and Tattoo. Later in the same year he achieved another personal high when he was invited to guest on Muddy Waters’ “London Sessions” album. At the end of ‘73, Rory toured his native Ireland, an almost legendary tour that happily was caught on film via a documentary made by Tony Palmer. The film documentary of Irish Tour 1974 was released in conjunction with a double live set also entitled Irish Tour ‘74 and soon became his most successful album ever in the US, winning worldwide acclaim and prompting a tour of the Far East later in the year.
Having completed his contract with Polydor, Rory signed with Chrysalis in 1975 and released Against The Grain. After an extensive worldwide tour, Rory returned to the UK to headline the Reading Festival (one of his many performances at this festival for which Rory held the record during his lifetime for number of appearances).
Calling Card was recorded in 1976 and charted worldwide on its release. Gallagher then returned to the States for yet another tour.
Rory made television history as the first ever artist to appear on the “Rockpalast Show” in the Grugahalle in Essen/Germany, transmitted live to some fifteen countries with an estimated audience of 50 million. That’s how he also became very popular for the German-speaking audience. Between 1976 and 1990 Rory performed five times at Rockpalast.
In 1978, he returned to Germany to record the critically acclaimed album Photo-Finish. Following his lengthy worldwide tour, Rory returned to Germany in ’79 to record Top Priority. The album was released and followed up with an extensive touring schedule which resulted, in 1980, with the landmark live album Stage Struck.
In 1982, Rory released his final album for Chrysalis, Jinx, and then returned to where he was happiest, the stage, and a successful world tour.
After the return of his entire catalogue in 1985, Rory formed his own label and publishing company, Capo, and began recording the Defender album, released in 1987, which charted strongly in many countries. The 1990 release of Fresh Evidence saw Gallagher opening the ears of an even wider audience. Rory continued to tour with a new band he established in '93, until he fell seriously ill in Holland in January 1995.
Rory Gallagher died on June 14, 1995 as a result of a liver transplantation. His house of birth in Ballyshannon and his grave at the St. Oliver Cemetery in Ballincollig (County Cork) are places of pilgrimage for his true fans.
Rory’s music was his religion. The conviction and sincerity with which he projected it have assured him a place in rock history and earnt him critical acclaim as one of the greatest torchbearers of driving, effusive rock and blues.
Source: media-release by Donal Gallagher & BMG Music and Wikipedia.