- 25 Jul 20
As part of our special 25th anniversary tribute to Rory Gallagher, we're revisiting The Edge's reflections on the legendary guitarist from Ballyshannon...
In 1996, the Hot Press Awards introduced a new category, with the agreement of Dónal Gallagher, entitled The Rory Gallagher Rock Musician Award. The accolade, presented in March that year, less than a year after Rory had died, went to The Edge of U2. Hot Press reported on what The Edge had to say, in the issue of the magazine, dated 3 April 1996. Less than two months later we were also mourning the death of Bill Graham, the Hot Press writer who introduced Paul McGuinness to U2.
Edge Wins 1st Annual Rory Gallagher Rock Musician Award
In his acceptance speech, Edge explained how much the award meant to him. He said that Rory was an inspiration that helped him to choose music as his path. Edge described being aged 15, at his “first major rock show, down in Macroom, seeing what three guys could do with couple of guitars and a set of drums.
“With that in mind I want to accept the award on behalf of all the young men and women in bedsits and bedrooms all over the country, trying to work out how to do that first Bar A-chord and dreaming of being in a rock ’n’ roll band, up there on stage, making a lot of noise. In 1966, that would have been Rory at home in Cork, and about 10 years later that would have been me in Malahide, doing exactly the same thing.”
Backstage, the U2 guitar wizard paid tribute to Rory’s pioneering work as Ireland’s first rockstar.
“In terms of his contribution to rock ’n’ roll in this country, he will always be remembered. He was the first. He was the guy who did it when it was unheard of in Ireland. A lot of the bands and artists that came after him really should thank him for preparing the way.
“Rory was an inspiration on a number of levels, firstly because he was Irish. That was a huge thing for me as a guitar player of 15 or 16. I took great pride in the fact that he was doing well. Seeing what Rory and his band could do on stage was an absolute eye-opener, a mind-blower. I had already started to work with four members of the band, because at that stage my brother Dick was with us as well and it was a very critical point in my life as a musician. It was a boost to my morale, and it gave me a new lease of determination and energy.
What did it mean to Edge to lift this award, having won practically everything else worth winning throughout his career? For the first time all night, Edge’s eloquence lets him down slightly, as he seems genuinely emotional and even choked-up.
“There are awards and there are awards,” he says slowly. “This is really special because it is the first time this award has been given to anyone. Particularly under the circumstances of Rory passing away last year, I just think it has that extra significance for me. It is an incredible honour and a great pleasure to be recognised with this award. But also it brings home in a very real way that Rory is gone now. So it brings mixed feelings.”
The special Rory Gallagher 25th Anniversary Issue of Hot Press is available to order below – 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.