- 11 Jun 15
Taken from the 1995 Hot Press Rory Gallagher tribute issue, the late Gary Moore speaks of the early days supporting Taste and his continued friendship with Gallagher.
"I've known Rory since I was sixteen when he came up with Taste from Cork. He was like the new guy on the scene and I was just out of school at the time. He used to play at the Club Rado a lot. I supported Rory on a regular basis at that time.
Rado was the old Maratime Club where people like Van Morrison started out. It was actually a very dangerous club. When you came out at night there were always a lot of gangs around. You were dicing with death just to see a band there. They'd take your bus fare off you, give you a couple of digs, take the bus to their place. Then you'd have to walk home and pass them again. But it was a great club. Rory played there a lot.
"I remember an occasion when we didn't have any spare strings between us so we decided we'd leave one of the guitars up on stage for both of us. It was like that. And Rory was always really friendly and very courteous. We used to link our amplifiers together as well to get more power because none of us had a big amplifier. A lot of the Belfast bands weren't like that at all.
"They'd rather slit your throat. You'd go up on stage after a break and the back of your guitar would fall off. Or they'd have unplugged the speakers. But Rory wasn't like that because he wasn't insecure about his playing. He knew he was good. And we' all knew how good he was. He had a real charisma and presence about him on stage. As soon as he put the guitar on there was a connection and he was just so great.
"The first time I met him was probably in the Maratime in the afternoon. I don't know if it was the very first occasion we met but often we'd be laughing about the showbands because we both hated the showbands. And Rory was saying, 'I won't be joining any of those showbands. I'm not bald and I'm not goin' to wear one of those fucking suits'. In those days you were either in a group or a showband and whichever side you were on you were deadly enemies. We used to talk about the other bands of the time like Cream and Peter Green. Because I was a little younger than him, he probably took pity on me, or something.
"After we both moved to England I used to go see him at The Marquee. But it was very much on an occasional basis that we'd see each other. One time, on Thin Lizzy's Black Rose tour, in Hamburg I think, he got up to play with us and I lent him my Peter Green Les Paul. We probably had a few drinks afterwards. We had the occasional drink in those days.
"I saw him at Self-Aid about ten years ago and he didn't seem very happy and he didn't look too well. I sat next to him on the plane back. He was very nervous and didn't like flying very much.
"Then, last year, I was staying at this hotel in London called The Conrad. This woman who worked there told me he was staying there as well but the thing was Rory was living there for about a year at this hotel. He had a flat in London. Apparently it was leaking. But he seemed to be in a rut there. He had all his guitars and amps and he said he was writing an album but it was very unlike Rory to be hanging out in a place like The Conrad. First of all, he wasn't a man who over-liked luxury. You wouldn't think he'd frequent those sort of places.
"Somebody said he'd be around that night so we sat at the bar with the piano player and then, later, we went up to his room and I played him stuff from the BBM album which is the stuff I was doing. It was the first time we'd probably been alone ever and we had a right old time and chatted and it was the one thing I was thankful for that we had a chance to talk like that.
"Rory stayed there and I toured and I didn't see him for a long time. But quite recently I was back at the same hotel. By this time, Rory had moved out of the hotel but he'd rented a flat opposite The Conrad, part of this harbour development. He was living there on his own. He was very lonely. This woman again who worked there had his number but I said to her don't give it to me in case he doesn't want her to give it to me. So she called him up and he called me right back and we had a really really good talk but he didn't sound too well at all. That was just before he went into hospital.
"What tells you more than anything about Rory was that he didn't say anything about his problems. He was more interested in my problems. He was such a selfless person. He really did care about other people. But I knew there was something up with him because he sounded so beaten down. He'd had a row with some promoter who had treated him really badly when he was on tour in Holland and it really did his confidence in and apparently that really affected him, so he cancelled all the rest of his gigs. He told me he hadn't been out of the house since the New Year or something and this was March or April. I think he thought nobody cared about him. He was just so pleased to hear from anyone I think.
"Then, I heard he'd gone in for a liver transplant and from there I heard from my manager of his death. The weird thing was that, while I'd been driving around the night before he died, I passed the hospital where Rory was staying and thought of dropping in to see him but then it was too late.
"Apart from the fact that he was a great player, the most noticeable thing about Rory was that he never compromised himself musically in any way. He would never do something that was, for him, below a certain level of integrity. He wouldn't do singles. He didn't want to do videos. That's an example really. Where that all came to light for me was when you went to the funeral. It wasn't like a rock and roll circus funeral like they usually tum out to be with people there to be seen. There was just so much respect. He earned that because of the uncompromising way he played.
"He was such a purist. He wouldn't sell himself out. How many people do you know in the music business today who would have that kind of stand, because it's so dangerous. He risked a lot of his security to be that way and you have to respect him for that. If there weren't people like Rory Gallagher around to set that kind of example then it would probably spell the end of quality music. The sad and ironic thing about his death is that I felt, with all these Blues revivals going on, that Rory's time had come round again."