Sunday, December 02, 2012

Review:'Rory Gallagher. His Life and Times' by Marcus Connaughton

My niece Katherine sent me this wonderful book a few weeks ago . 'Rory Gallagher,His Life And Times' by Marcus Connaughton.Katherine had attended the book launch in Cork because she is married to the writer Laurence Fenton who did a fine job of editing the book for Marcus.
                                                        When Gary Moore died a couple of years ago i remember Bob Geldof in his tribute saying that Gary was one of a trinity of great Irish blues men which were Van Morrison,Gary Moore and Rory Gallagher and i couldn't agree more but Van has dipped into all sorts of music genres such as jazz, country, folk,soul etc and Gary could never seem to decide if he was a rock star or a blues guitarist but i think Rory was uncompromising in dedicating his life to the blues which was the music he loved.He didn't care about fashion and carried on regardless through the changing fads of music wearing the same check shirts and playing the same beloved Fender Stratocaster guitar throughout his whole career.He bought it secondhand in Cork in 1963 for £100 which was a lot for a young kid back then and he paid it off in instalments.
                                       I first heard of Rory in 1971 when i lived in North Wales.My pal Robin had the first two albums by Rory's band Taste.The eponymous Taste and On The Boards.I really liked those albums.It was about the time i discovered Gary Moore as well and his band Skid Row.Another favourite album a few years later was 'Rory Gallagher Live In Europe'.Nearly everyone i knew seemed to have a copy of that album.I only saw Rory perform live once though.That was at the first Festival i ever went to which was the Great Western Festival near Lincoln in 1972.Rory was on stage when we arrived and it was absolutely pouring with rain.Rory said,"I'm sorry about the rain but we'll pretend it doesn't exist at all".Then he proceeded to playing such a blisteringly brilliant set that nobody cared that they were soaked to the skin.He did actually play two sets at Lincoln because Helen Reddy didn't turn up.He was great and not only superb musically but he came over as a really nice person.No hint of ego whatsoever which you get with most famous musicians.
Anyway, this review is supposed to be about Marcus's book and not my music memories.When i opened the book i was really pleased to see that Marcus had signed it.Marcus (See picture) is a veteran of the Irish record industry and for over twenty years he has produced a whole range of music programmes for RTE and is a well known presenter as well.He delivered the first Rory Gallagher memorial lecture in Cork in 1995 and has spoken at many tributes to Rory all over Europe.This book is obviously a labour of love and a fine job he has done.My copy was also signed by Louis De Paor (See photo at base of story) who is one of the foremost Irish poets and there is a poem by Louis simply called 'Rory' at the beginning of the book.Louis has often worked with another great Irish singer i really admire called John Spillane who recorded a song called 'A Song For Rory Gallagher' which incorporated Louis's words into the song lyrics and you can enjoy that song below this page as well.You can also find out more about Louis and John here-

Reading the opening chapters i was struck by the similarities between Rory's early influences and those of Van Morrison.The same names come up over and over,Leadbelly, Big Bill Broonzy,Muddy Waters,Lonnie Doneghan.I think Rory was about three years younger than Van but they both discovered the blues through the AFN radio and Radio Luxembourg.Like Van Rory also got to play with Lonnie Doneghan later in his career.He also played with Muddy Waters which must have been a thrill for him.The book follows Rory's journey from playing in showbands, to forming Taste then his solo career right up to Rory's tragic death in 1995 at the age of only 47.
                                                                 I must say Marcus has unearthed some great photos for this book.They are quite stunning and many previously unseen.In conclusion i think this is a great book that fans of Rory gallagher will love.You can find out more about this book by watching this very interesting video.

I have had some great feedback to this review.One music fan who lives in Canada called Dave Cooper has given me permission to show these photos of Rory that he took backstage and at a Rory concert in 1974.Thanks Dave.

Blair Whyte from Northern Ireland sent me this comment and some photos he took of Rory in the early days of his career.Thanks Blair.

Many thanks for the review Pat. I am actually currently reading this book. I am a long time admirer of Rory both as a musician and a person. I saw Rory the first time he played in Belfast and developed a good friendship with him during his early days in Belfast. Many memorable times. One in particular is when he was playing support for John Mayall. I had to drive JM to Portstewart in my Mini ( you can imagine how comfortable how he was stretched out in the back seat!). That gig became infamous due to JM being told he had to play 'The Queen' at the end, 'cause that's the way it was here in N Irland in those days. It features on one of his (JMs) bootlegs if you Google JM and Portstewart there is a clip.

1 comment:

milo said...

I can't believe that Louis signed the book too! I'm very jealous. You can probably hear the gnashing of my teeth from across the pond.


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