not a member? click here to sign up
When Johnny met Rory
Ahead of the annual Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival, Horslips guitarist Johnny Fean offers his memories of the legendary blues player
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 28 May 2012
Horslips are one of the main headline acts appearing at this year’s annual Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival, which takes place in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. Others include The Mick Taylor Band (ex-Rolling Stones), Dr. Feelgood and the Pat McManus Band and a host of other acts. Horslips’ emergence in the early ‘70s coincided with the rise of Rory Gallagher’s solo career.
“I actually played on the same bill with Rory as far back as 1967 at the Double-O-Six club in Cork,” Fean recalls. “I only have a very hazy memory of it but a friend of mine, Mark Cunningham, who is writing a book about Horslips, reminded me of it recently. I was in a band called Sweet Street at the time, with Joe O’Donnell on fiddle. We were supporting Taste who were just starting out themselves.”
Despite their paths criss-crossing in the 1970s it would be ten years before Fean encountered the great man again, as he recalls.
“Yeah, it was strange in a way that we didn’t meet again for so long, as we were both touring in Europe and America on the same circuit. But we were in Germany around ‘76 or ’77 when Horslips and Rory were both touring at the same time and there were a number of gigs and festivals where we ended up on the same bill. One in particular, I remember very well – it rounded off both our tours and it was in Berlin at the Stadthalle, which is the main auditorium. It was mostly a heavy rock and metal festival which Rory headlined. That was such a great night, absolutely fantastic for us all. The gigs were great and we were all backstage together hanging out before and after our shows. Later on, the two of us, just me and Rory, went out on the town together.”
Rory Gallagher and Johnny Fean painting Berlin red in the mid-‘70s! That must have been a memorable night. “Yeah, it was actually, now that I think about it (laughs). Although there was nothing too wild about it – just having a few beers and a laugh. We basically did a tour of the clubs and pubs of Berlin throughout the night. The funny thing was, disco was becoming really big at the time and everywhere we went was blasting out disco music. Rory wasn’t too happy about that and neither was I but we eventually found one or two places that had blues music playing so we settled there.