THE Rorys will mark the 25th anniversary of cult guitarist Rory Gallagher’s death with a special gig in Perth next Saturday.
Gallagher sold 30 million albums, was ranked as one of the best ever guitarists by Rolling Stone magazine, and came close to joining The Rolling Stones in the 1970s – but you’ve probably never heard of him.
Playing turbo-charged blues rock, the Irish guitarist/singer blazed a trail across Europe in the 1960s and 1970s, wowing audiences with his frenetic live shows.
His down-to-earth persona and passionate guitar solos made him a favourite with the likes of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, who would namecheck Gallagher as an influence and unsung hero.
Clapton credited him with “getting me back into the blues”, and The Stones reportedly wanted Gallagher to join them after Mick Taylor left the band in 1974.
Rorys bassist Brendan Tompsett says they are hard-core Gallagher fans and their drummer Rory Keys was named after him.
“What makes Rory so special? Well just listen to him, he plays from the heart and soul of the blues,” he says.
“When you watch or listen craftsman and his bands were just incredible.
“From what you can tell from interviews, he was just a really nice man as well.”
Despite enjoying some UK chart success in the 1970s, mainstream success eluded Gallagher, partly because he stayed true to the gritty blues that had inspired him while growing up in Cork in the 1960s.
“The fact that he didn’t care about commercial success because it was always about putting on a live show is testament to his commitment to music and his craft,” Tompsett says.
Gallagher’s star faded somewhat in the 80s and 90s, but he was still a popular live act, until his heavy drinking and long term use of painkillers caught up with him – he underwent a liver transplant in 1995 and died while recuperating in hospital. He was only 47.
“It’s the 25th anniversary of his passing this year and it seems his profile is starting to gain momentum,” Tompsett says.
“It’s always sad when true brilliance doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but I guess if you could ask Gallagher he probably wouldn’t care and would just sit and play you a song.”
Fronted by guitarist Bobby Burgess, The Rorys play Badlands Bar in Perth next Saturday (August 22).
Tix at tickets.oztix.com.au
by STEPHEN POLLOCK