R&R Hall Of Shame (Spotlight) – Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher:

30 million albums sold

The greatest white bluesman to walk the planet. God himself,  (Eric Clapton) runs a pale and distant second.  Don’t believe me?  Ask, the patron saint of cool, Slash (a Rory disciple) who has initiated a petition to get Rory into the hall.  It has been widely reported that when Rock Guitar’s chairman of the board, Jimi Hendrix was asked by a Rolling Stone journalist what it was like to be the greatest guitar player in the world,  he is quoted as responding, “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher”  Still not convinced?  Gallagher was approached by the Rolling  Stones to fill their vacant guitar slot…..twice!  He was on the short list when Brian Jones passed as well as when Mick Taylor quit.  In the case of Taylor’s departure, Rory’s brother Donal has gone on record as saying Rory got the first call.  However, Gallagher had a world tour to do and The Stones were in mid-life crisis. A successful solo artist who also recorded with Muddy WatersAlbert King and Jerry Lee Lewis;  Gallagher respectfully recorded with the Stones a couple of days then excused himself to return to his day job.  Many believe that the uncredited ghost of Rory Gallagher haunts the backround mix of The Stones album “Black And Blue” to this day.

When researching Gallagher’s bio, it seems his life path was pre-ordained. He was born March 2, 1948 in Rock Hospital and baptized in The Rock Church in Donegal County, Ireland.

Gallagher was a shy, saintly, hard-drinkin’ Bluesman of the first order.  He repeatedly vowed never to compromise himself in the pursuit of celebrity and he stayed that course for his entire life.  Major labels waved the brass ring of super-stardom in his face several times in his fabled career and Rory walked away from every soul-selling pact offered. He also earns Rock and Roll mythology points for refusing to  release  singles,  dumping an entire unreleased album master in the trash bin on a whim, and dying (too young at age 47) of liver failure.

The following video is Rory live  ripping through one of his best originals, “Shin Kicker”.  Rory was a live animal whose power was seldom  accurately chronicled in the studio.  Did Eric or Jimi ever burn this bright? Just askin’


12 responses to “R&R Hall Of Shame (Spotlight) – Rory Gallagher”

  1. In 1972 he was voted for fans as best living guitar player among such fine musicians as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Steve Howe, Leslie West, Tony McPhee, Jerry Garcia, Pete Townshend, John McLaughlin, Ritchie Blackmore in the contest carried out by “Melody Maker” magazine.

  2. Good article, but…

    “God himself, (Eric Clapton) runs a pale and distant second”? Forget it!

    Let’s face it: Mr. Clapton is first and foremost a brilliant PR man and and commercial genius. And then he is also a decent guitar player. Very decent. Which to me is exactly the problem. When chasing the blues, I’m not after nice and decent. (If you want nice and decent, check out them Jazz guitarists!)

    Listen to Rory Gallagher, Duane Allman, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Gary Moore: they did not just make love to their guitar, they screwed the eyeballs out of her!

    To me they are in a league of their own: the “Eyeball League”.

    There’s more “white” blues guitarists in the Eyeball League. Lonnie Mack, Johnny Winter, Jeff Healey, just to name a few. But not Eric Clapton.

    Mind you, Eric plays the guitar at least a hundred times better than I do. But he is definitely not in the Eyeball League. After “Duane and the Dominos” he got stuck in the “Decent League”.

    Thank you!

    • I was kind of being respectful and charitable to Eric. Truth is, he is the ‘brand’ by which the common man compares all blues/rock guitarists. For sure, Winter and Moore rate higher on my personal list. Clapton is a fine guitar player. Rory Gallagher burns up the instrument (literally). Of all my posts, the Rory one inspired the most responses. A good thing. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Rory had that all-too rare combination of brilliant talent and self-effacing humility, and was absolutely one of the very best guitarists I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness in concert. A truly unique gent on every level, and sorely missed each and every day since his untimely passing.

  4. Maybe it is a bigger honour not to be taken up in the R&R Hall of Shame!
    For Rory this would be also insignificant because to him the opinion of his fans was more important than those of some record companies.

  5. Having been a lifelong fan of Rory, I’m of the same opinion of Jörg Wägner.
    Insignificant ‘honour’ because he was the real deal; I saw him play live a number of times, from small venues to concert halls, each time being blown away. It almost seemed like he played a guitar like he would break it. He didn’t seek honours but just loved what he did; all anecdotes of the man show him as an unassuming patient man with time for anybody and everybody especially to talk about music, crediting others, such as his influences rather than himself, he always praised his fellow (support or otherwise) musicians. He played Northern Ireland during ‘the troubles’ when most bands were too scared to so. We could do with such an attitude from contemporary artiists now rather than the arrogance and self esteem that seems to be all too common now. As for being number one; he wouldn’t care – all the guitarists mentioned so far in this post he would have appreciated and vice versa… leave it there.
    By the way Jörg, did you mean R&R ‘Hall of Shame’ or ‘Hall of Sham’?

    • Posthumous inductions into so-called halls-of-fame seem a bit crass to me; real legends are remembered by their timeless recordings appreciated by many people.
      Is there a Classical Music Hall of Fame?

  6. “that hall of fame is a piss stain” … just a reminder.
    I’ve seen well over a thousand rock’n roll acts – Rory is at the top of my list.

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