- 11 Jul 20
John Creedon shares his reflections on Rory Gallagher's legacy, as part of our special 25th anniversary tribute to the legendary Irish guitarist.
John Creedon presents The John Creedon show on RTÉ Radio 1 – 8-9.50pm Monday to Thursday, and 8-10pm on Friday.
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Rory Gallagher was a neighbour of ours. He was 10 years older than me, but I’m one of twelve kids – so he was good pals with two of my older siblings, Geraldine and Don. They were all part of this great folk and beatnik scene in the late ‘60s in Cork, involving lots of groovy people, with goatee beards and long hair.
I remember Rory as being a shy, good-looking, nice fella – and the next thing you know he’s an international star.
The first time I went to see him, I was only 10 or 11. My mother was mad keen to support a neighbour’s child, so when Rory came back to Cork for the City Hall gigs, she allowed me to go.
That was my introduction not only to Rory Gallagher’s music, but to rock ‘n’ roll. There was this smell in the air that someone told me was patchouli oil – but I’m not so sure it was! The place was absolutely packed.
The social significance of Rory Gallagher coming back and playing the City Hall was huge. This was a very conservative era. It was in many ways, as Bob Geldof later described it, ‘police and priests’. But when Rory walked out in a checked shirt and denim jeans, all of a sudden we were in control of City Hall. There genuinely was that rush of excitement – like, ‘They’ll never stop us now!’
He meant a huge amount to us. His guitar-playing was amazing.
My family were mad into music, so I bought my first fiddle in Crowley’s on McCurtain Street – the same shop where Rory bought the Strat. Rory Gallagher’s Calling Card was one of the first albums I got. To this day, that’s such a beautiful album.
His mother would always stop me on the street, because she was very good friends with my mother. I met Rory and her shortly before he died. Of course, I didn’t realise what was around the corner. My sister Geraldine was honoured to do the memorial in Rory Gallagher Plaza, in Cork. It’s a plinth, and on top there’s a weave of music – like a guitar put through a lava lamp. Some of his lyrics are feeding their way up along the neck of the guitar.
There’s only so much footage of Rory in Ireland, but there’s that classic one where he’s walking with his hands in his reefer jacket down Patrick’s Hill. That’s my route to work. I think of him often.
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The special Rory Gallagher 25th Anniversary Issue of Hot Press is out now – featuring reflections on Rory's legacy from President Michael D. Higgins, Imelda May, Johnny Marr, Mumford & Sons, Mick Fleetwood, Steve Van Zandt, Slash and many more. Pick up your copy in shops now, or order online below: