- 13 Jul 20
Imelda May shares her reflections on Rory Gallagher's legacy, as part of our special 25th anniversary tribute to the legendary Irish guitarist.
I saw Rory Gallagher play once, when I was about 16, at this jam session in JJ Smyths. He jumped up, and I remember being blown away by this guitarist. Weirdly, around that age is when I first sang with Ronnie Wood, too. When I was playing the Palladium last year, I asked Ronnie to play ‘Bullfrog Blues’ with me, as a tribute to Rory Gallagher. Rory jammed around with the Stones, and for two seconds he considered replacing Mick Taylor – who Ronnie Wood ended up being the replacement for!
Rory was a beacon. He had blues and soul to the core of him, and it really came out of him from somewhere deep, instinctive and brilliant. He was a massive inspiration to me.
I loved blues. I started off looking up Bessie Smith, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. But then I found Rory Gallagher, who was such a phenomenal player, singer and writer. It was wonderful to have someone from home I could relate to. He just got it. Mary Stokes was a wonderful inspiration to me too, as a teenager singing blues. It was Mary Stokes, Rory Gallagher and Phil Lynott. These people really inspired me.
If you’re 13 or 14, and you’re listening to Bessie Smith instead of whatever pop all your friends are listening to on the radio, you do feel like an alien. But then when you hear Rory Gallagher, the coolest guy on the planet, playing, you go: “Yes! I knew I was right!” He was phenomenal.
The special Rory Gallagher 25th Anniversary Issue of Hot Press is out now – featuring reflections on Rory's legacy from President Michael D. Higgins, Johnny Marr, Mumford & Sons, Mick Fleetwood, Steve Van Zandt, Slash and many more. Pick up your copy in shops now, or order online below: