Rory Gallagher - Impressive Facts You Didn't Know

Rory Gallagher – 19 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know

William Rory Gallagher was an Irish musician, songwriter and producer. He is known for his amazing guitar playing and his down to earth attitude. This led to a lack of commercial success and he is often referred to as “the greatest guitarist you’ve never heard of”.

He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland on March 2nd 1948 and raised in Cork, Munster. He died in London in 1995 after developing complications after a liver transplant. He was only 47 when he died.

Those are all facts you probably already knew about Rory Gallagher, keep reading for 19 impressive facts you never knew.

He Played At Cream’s Farewell Concert At The Royal Albert Hall

When Rory Gallagher was with the band he formed called “Taste”, they were support band for Cream at their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

His Band Split Up Shortly After Playing The Isle Of Wight Festival

Rory Gallagher’s band “Taste”performed on Friday August 28th 1970 at the Isle Of Wight music festival. Their set was recorded and released as an album entitled “Live At The Isle Of Wight” in 1971. Shortly after that show, the band split up and Rory began his solo career. Rory said of the split,

We just came to the end of our natural life. The drummer wanted to play jazz and I wanted to play blues. We also had management problems that went on to cause me terrible legal hassles; I couldn’t play for six months after Taste split up because of the contract I was under.

Rory Gallagher

He Stayed At “The Most Bombed Hotel In Europe”

During “the troubles” in Northern Ireland, when many artists were advised not to tour, Rory was adamant that he played in the troubled city at least once a year. In 1974 at the height of the conflict, he stayed at the Europa hotel in Belfast which was known as “the most bombed hotel in Europe”.

This led to him becoming a role model for many aspiring young Irish musicians. As well as winning him an enormous fan base at home and abroad.

He Jammed With The Rolling Stones

In January 1975 when the Rolling Stones were auditioning for a new guitarist to replace Mick Taylor in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Rory went across for a jam. As he said he went “just to see what was going on”, but he never joined the band as he was happier playing solo. 

He’d had enough of being told what he could and couldn’t play when he was with the showbands in his early days.

SEE ALSO: Rolling Stones Albums Ranked (rated from worst to best)

He Worked With Deep Purple’s Roger Glover

In 1975 Rory signed with Chrysalis Records and came into conflict with Roger Glover who was producer for Chrysalis as well as once  being Deep Purple’s bass guitarist.

Rory wanted to play his songs, not with augmented sound or cut to fit the constraints of singles etc.

He Played With Lonnie Donegan

One of Rory Gallagher’s earliest influences was Lonnie Donegan and the skiffle music. In 1978 the album “Puttin’ On The Style” was released by Lonnie Donegan featuring Rory Gallagher on guitar.

He’s The Reason Brian May Has That Distinctive Sound

Brian May has said many times that he approached Rory Gallagher when he was just a kid. After seeing Rory in concert at the Marquee Club and asking him how he created his sound. Rory told him and Brian went straight home to try out the tips given to him by Rory. Brian said,

So these couple of kids come up, who’s me and my mate, and say ‘How do you get your sound Mr Gallagher?’ and he sits and tells us. So I owe Rory Gallagher my sound.

Brian May

SEE ALSO: Interesting Facts About Brian May

He Jammed With The Dubliners

In 2003, some 8 years after Rory’s death, his brother Dónal released the album “Wheels Within Wheels”. Which was a collection of acoustic tracks including flamenco, skiffle and traditional Irish music. On the album Rory performs with Bert Jansch, Martin McCarthy, The dubliners, Lonnie Donegan and Juan Martin among others.

He Owned The First Stratocaster In Ireland

According to local legend, Rory Gallagher’s sunburst 1961 Stratocaster was the first to ever be sent to Ireland. The strat’s serial number is 64351 and was reputed to have belonged originally to Jin Conlon the lead guitarist with the Irish Royal Showband.

Rory bought it secondhand from Crowley’s Music Shop in Cork in August 1963 for around £100 on a Hire Purchase deal. Rory’s brother Dónal said;

His dream ambition was to have a guitar like Buddy Holly. This Stratocaster was in the store as a used instrument, it was 100 pounds. In today’s money you couldn’t even compare; you might as well say it was a million pounds. My mother was saying we’ll be in debt for the rest of our lives and Rory said, ‘Well, actually with a guitar like this I can play both parts, rhythm and lead, we won’t need a rhythm player so I can earn more money and pay it off.’ So the Stratocaster became his partner for life if you like

Dónal Gallagher

SEE ALSO: What Guitar Does Rory Gallagher Use?

His Sweat Stripped The Paint From His Guitar

According to Rory’s brother Dónal, Rory had a rare blood type which made his sweat so acidic that it actually aged the look of the guitar by removing the finish.

Rory did have the guitar modified quite extensively; He replaced the tuning pegs, the nut and the pick guard and the wiring was altered. He also installed a five-way selector switch in place of the original three-way switch, but he never touched the paintwork.

The less paint or varnish on a guitar, acoustic or electric, the better. The wood breathes more. But it’s all psychological. I just like the sound of it

Rory Gallagher

Joe Bonamassa Played Rory’s Strat In 2011

In October 2011 Rory’s brother Dónal brought the guitar out of retirement to allow Joe Bonamassa to play it at both his shows at Hammersmith Apollo in London. Joe opened the show both nights playing Rory’s Strat while performing Rory’s song “Cradle Rock”.

He Played At The First Rockpalast Live Concert

Rory Gallagher performed at the first Rockpalast live concert at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany in 1977.

He Has Several Tributes In His Memory

Two years after his death, a tribute sculpture to Rory was unveiled at the newly named Rory Gallagher Place (formerly St. Paul’s St. Square) in Rory’s hometown of Cork. There is also the Rory Gallagher Music Library in Cork.

As well as that, there’s also the following:

  • In Dublin’s Temple Bar at Rory Gallagher’s Corner there is a life-size bronze sculpture of his Startocaster. 
  • There is a plaque in memory of Rory at the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
  • In the Southern suburbs of Paris, France there is a street which was renamed Rue Rory Gallagher.
  • There is a life-size bronze statue of Rory in the town centre of Ballyshannon as well as an award winning annual blues festival held in his honour. 

He Performed Live More Than 2,000 Times

Rory Gallagher’s life was cut short due to complications after a liver transplant in 1995. He was just 47 years old and during his solo career, he had performed live on stage over 2,000 times and released 14 albums which included 3 live albums.

He Supported Blind Faith On Tour In North America

Shortly before the Supergroup Blind Faith broke up, they toured North America. Rory Gallagher and his band “Taste” were one of the support acts. Other supporting acts were “Free” and “Delaney & Bonnie”.

Jimi Hendrix Said He Was The Greatest Guitarist In The World (Allegedly)

Apparently during an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Jimi Hendrix was Asked “How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world?” He is supposed to have answered, “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher”. 

Unfortunately there are several rumours about Jimi saying other guitarists are the best but we could find no proof and only add this fact because if it is indeed true, it’s pretty impressive.

Alex Lifeson Said His Playing Was Really Special

In a recent interview Alex Lifeson the guitarist with the band “Rush” for many years recalled the time that him and his band were on the same bill as Rory Gallagher, he said,

I would watch his set and go back to the dressing room and just play, just because I was so inspired by watching him play. Honest to god, his soul was just amazing, and to see him close his eyes and just get lost in his playing was truly, truly remarkable.

Alex Lifeson (Rush)

He Released His Self Titled Debut Album In 1971

He produced and wrote all of the tracks himself. In fact only two of his twelve studio albums were co-produced. They were “Calling Card” (1976) which was co-produced by Roger Glover (Deep Purple) and “Photo-Finish” (1978) which was co-produced by Alan O’Duffy who was credited with also producing some tracks on The Rolling Stones album “Let It Bleed” (1969).

He Played With Muddy Waters

When he was growing up, Rory Gallagher was influenced by Muddy Waters who he listened to on Radio Luxembourg and American Forces Network (AFN). In 1971 Rory got to jam with his former idol, the session was recorded and released as “The London Muddy Waters Sessions”.

SEE ALSO: What Guitar Did Muddy Waters Play?

Do You Know Any More?

That’s our 19 impressive facts about Rory Gallagher you didn’t know, do you know any more? We’d love to hear them, let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where was Rory Gallagher born?

Rory Gallagher was born on March 2nd 1948 in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland.

Which famous music festival did Rory Gallagher and his band Taste play at in 1970?

The famous music festival Rory Gallagher and his band Taste played at in 1970 was the Isle Of Wight Festival.

What Supergroup did Rory Gallagher and his band Taste support on their North American tour in 1969?

The Supergroup Rory Gallagher and his band Taste supported on their North American tour in 1969 was Blind Faith. The other support bands were Free and Delaney & Bonnie.

What was the title of Rory Gallagher’s debut solo album?

Rory Gallagher’s debut solo album was called “Rory Gallagher” which was released in 1971.

Who co-produced Rory Gallagher’s album “Calling Card”?

Rory Gallagher’s album “Calling Card”  was co-produced by Roger Glover from Deep Purple.

Which famous guitarist played Rory Gallagher’s Stratocaster in 2011 at Hammersmith Apollo?

The famous guitarist who played Rory Gallagher’s Stratocaster in 2011 at Hammersmith Apollo in London was Joe Bonamassa. He opened both nights playing Rory’s guitar with a cover of Rory’s song “Cradle Rock”.

What hotel did Rory Gallagher stay at in Belfast in 1974 that was known as the most bombed hotel in Europe?

The hotel that Rory Gallagher stayed at in Belfast in 1974 that was known as the most bombed hotel in Europe was the Europa Hotel.

What Rory Gallagher song contains the lines “Whisky make me drowsy, and gin can make you think”?

The Rory Gallagher song that contains the lines “Whisky make me drowsy, and gin can make you think” is “Too Much Alcohol” taken from the album “Irish Tour ‘74 which was released in 1974.

What caused the finish to fade on Rory Gallagher’s Stratocaster guitar?

According to Rory’s brother Dónal Gallagher, Rory had a rare blood type which made his sweat too acidic which caused the finish to fade on his Stratocaster.

What did Rory Gallagher die from?

Rory Gallagher died from MRSA which he caught after receiving a liver transplant. He sadly died on June 14th 1995 aged 47.

What was the name of the band Rory Gallagher performed with that was formed by former members of the Yardbirds?

Rory Gallagher performed with the “Box Of Frogs” which was a band formed from former members of the Yardbirds.

What is the name of the band Rory Gallagher put together after leaving the Irish Showband Fontana?

The band Rory Gallagher put together after leaving the Showband Fontana was “The Impact”.

Which Rory Gallagher song contains the lines ”You drinkin’ moonshine whiskey, and talkin’ all outta your head”?

The Rory Gallagher song that contains the lines ”You drinkin’ moonshine whiskey, and talkin’ all outta your head” is “Pistol Slapper Blues” which was taken from the album “Deuce” which was released in 1971.

Did Rory Gallagher and his band Taste play at the marquee Club in London for multiple weeks in a row?

Rory Gallagher and his band Taste had a regular spot at London’s Marquee Club. They played there every week for a while.

Who was Rory Gallagher’s bass guitarist for 20 years?

Rory Gallagher’s bass guitarist for 20 years was Gerry McAvoy.

Which music publication voted Rory Gallagher Guitarist/Musician of the Year in 1972?

The music publication that voted Rory Gallagher Guitarist/Musician of the Year in 1972 was Melody Maker.

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