Monday, July 13, 2009

Would you…let me rock, let me rock?

5 Rory Gallagher, ‘Cradle Rock’

I love guitars. I love LOUD ROCK guitars. I love playing my air guitar to LOUD ROCK guitars.

My crisis in the eighties/nineties was about the dirth of guitars and the prevalence of synthesizers in music. Even Nirvana, while I love both Nevermind and Bleach albums, weren’t about guitars. Pearl Jam eventually restored my faith in rock guitars but Rory Gallagher was and always will be MY mainman! Rory was mine!

There is something great that happens when you think you and maybe ten other people in the world know and love YOUR band. When I saw Rory on a grainy black and white film playing Cradle Rock on my TV in 1974, it was love at first sight. And better yet, none of my friends knew of him. I immediately had to have the Irish Tour ’74 album and cut out all the articles on him in the music magazines that I read. The audience on the record didn’t count as people who knew about Rory. They were in Cork, in Ireland! Might as well have been on a moon orbiting Jupiter as far as I was concerned. I was on the other side of the planet.

The best concert I’ve ever seen was in 1980, the Top Priority tour, Auckland Town Hall. Rory Gallagher. Imagine my surprise that the Town Hall was FULL. This audience I could relate to. They were like me – middle class, white, male, Aucklanders. Maybe it was more than 10 then. I was similarly shocked when I went to a Streettalk gig at the old (and now torn down) His Majesty’s Theatre, with Mike and Greg and Hammond Gamble played a ripping version of Rory’s A Million Miles Away. Nick Hornby also confesses a love affair with the long haired Irish god in his 31 Songs. Could it be Nick, Hammond and I weren’t alone?

Something happens after you find out that others share your passion for an artist. Actually a few things happen. Your creative instinct is partly vindicated – I wasn’t alone in my good taste; a warm glow of community is felt - those solitary guitar sessions in your bedroom were shared by thousands of other pimply boys; you, paradoxically, sense a need to share your good fortune with your friends; but also, like the Cavern’s Beatle fans – there is a sense of loss as well. That, maybe, shock horror, they weren’t really yours after all. But that’s okay – you move onto the next group/singer/guitarist that no one else knows much about and you spread the gospel. Have you heard Silent Alliance?


  1. For my money, Rory was the best blues-rock guitarist ever. He is much missed.

  2. I'll add my money to your money - I can't think of anyone better. Thanks for the comment.