The Blues-Rock Guitar Sorcery Of The Great Rory Gallagher

An admiring glance back at the life and times of the irreplaceable Irish blues-rock guitar virtuoso.

Published on

Rory Gallagher - Photo: Rory Gallagher Estate
Rory Gallagher - Photo: Rory Gallagher Estate

William Rory Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon in County Donegal on March 2, 1948, and raised in Cork. The irreplaceable Irish blues-rock guitar virtuoso that we all came to know as Rory began to whip up a storm with his guitar sorcery when he co-founded the trio Taste in 1966. He was a mere 18 at the time.

When the band started to go international, a couple of years later, they won admiring glances from fans of Cream (for whose famed farewell Royal Albert Hall concert they opened) and Blind Faith, the short-lived supergroup on whose North American dates they also guested. In August 2015, the four-CD I’ll Remember box set celebrated Taste’s legacy.

Buy or stream Taste’s I’ll Remember.

Click to load video

Taste only lasted until 1970 themselves. But by then, they had played at that year’s Isle of Wight Festival and made two studio albums. The second, On The Boards, was a Top 20 success in the UK. Gallagher swiftly started recording in his own name under a new solo deal with Atlantic. He made the Top 40 with his self-titled 1971 debut, and a swift follow-up, Deuce, arrived the same year.

They were the first in a long line of releases to win either silver or gold certification. It’s appropriate, too, that the sole Gallagher album to make the UK Top 10 was one on which his celebrated, blistering style as a stage performer was commemorated, on 1972’s Live In Europe. That also enjoyed by far his longest chart run, at 15 weeks. The next year, Rory won his initial US album chart appearance with Blueprint.

Tore Down (Live From Newcastle City Hall / 1977)

Click to load video

Never one to court fame for its own sake, Gallagher continued to enhance his awesome reputation. His prolific recording and touring schedule went on for the rest of his life. His last studio album, his 11th, was 1990’s Fresh Evidence. He was a cruelly young 47 when he died after complications from a liver transplant on June 14, 1995. At the time of his death, he had plans to tour the record, release an EP and more besides.

But it was always all about the music for Rory Gallagher. “Regardless of fashions there are still blues and rockabilly fans,” he told Chris Welch in Metal Hammer in one of his last interviews. “Certainly for a while, the press overlooked rootsy music [which] they thought was old fashioned and irrelevant.

Listen to uDiscover Music’s Blues Classics playlist.

“But what I’m trying to do,” he continued, “is create music that respects the roots, but is based on new material as opposed to just me doing old blues, acid rock standards all the time. That’s the key really, to update the music itself by hitting it on the head, and coming up with new chord changes and tunes.”

Buy or stream Rory Gallagher’s Live At Montreux.



  1. Frank Kelley

    March 6, 2016 at 5:47 am

    Probably the greatest guitar player ever to step on this earth

  2. Paul FitzGerald

    June 14, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    Without a doubt the greatest guitarist ever.

  3. John

    June 15, 2016 at 1:26 am

    The Greatest of the Greats

    • Diego Bellano

      October 25, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      I’m agreewith you! Absolutly one more great of all time.

  4. Mariana Whitmer

    June 15, 2016 at 2:50 am

    Thanks for posting this. Great person, amazing guitarist, beloved musician. He was a gift and his music reminds us every time we hear it.

  5. Donna Thomas

    June 15, 2016 at 3:12 am

    HEDNRIX WAS THE GREATEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NUF SAID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Eva

      June 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

      The Rolling Stones wanted him to
      replace Mick Taylor and when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the world’s greatest guitarist, he is reported to have said: “I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher”.

    • david

      June 15, 2016 at 7:45 am

      Hendrix openly said….I wish I could play guitar like that Eddie Cochran. He even had him played at his funeral, so in Hendrix own words….Eddie Cochran was the best and he died at 21…Imagine if he had lived past that……

    • Sarah

      June 15, 2016 at 7:57 am

      When Hendrix was asked ‘What does it feel like to be the greatest guitarist?’ He replied’Dunno, ask Rory Gallagher’

    • Tony Kelly

      June 15, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Hendrix said Rory was the best guitarist in the world in an interview on tv and he was an authority on the subject at the time don’t you think

    • M

      June 15, 2016 at 11:50 am

      When Hendrix was asked how was it to be the greatest guitar player? he replied. “Ask Rory Gallagher”. Nuff said!!

  6. Charles Brehm

    June 15, 2016 at 3:24 am

    I agree with all of you!

    • Jackie

      June 15, 2016 at 9:30 am

      I agree.

  7. Paul Cox

    June 15, 2016 at 7:27 am

    Donna Thomas Hendrix was not the greatest. His live performances were very hit and miss because he was often addled with the usual combination of drink and drugs and couldn’t always give 100% on stage. Rory always gave 100+%. Also Henrix always had to rely on sales of singles to fund the touring. Whereas Rory could easily fill any venue on the planet without relying on singles sales

    • jim

      June 16, 2016 at 5:28 am

      Such rhetoric bullshit, who cares they were both great buff said!


    June 16, 2016 at 12:28 am

    The last time I saw him perform live at the Glasgow “Flaeh” god knows when ,he staggered on to the stage totally out of it and was dragged off by his roadies after one minute!! Also,his was the first live gig i attended during a Taste tour early 70’s and he was awesome then!

  9. Ed

    June 23, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    There was no live show like a Rory Gallagher show. A master showman and a Stratocaster expert. Still miss him . . . he was the best.

    • Mike

      August 12, 2018 at 8:52 pm

      Best show I ever saw was Rory opening for Ted Nugent in 1976. Rory stole the show and Nugent’s band were at the top of their game.

  10. JP

    November 1, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Best live act I’ve seen in over 40 years bar non, Springsteen comes a close second, but doesn’t come close,

  11. Brian Sweeney

    June 14, 2017 at 9:11 pm

    Rory was special because of his irish roots, we irish dont get excited about things, rory had this trait in abundance hence his Attitüde to the whole fame baloney Jimi came from a different culture but had irish bloodline, his grandma. Both could improvise on anything and litterally played outside themselves. True musicians.

  12. Jay Roth

    June 16, 2017 at 2:32 am

    I saw Taste open for Blind Faith in Philadelphia. Best show I have ever seen. By the way, Delaney and Bonnie and Friends was also on the bill.

Comments are temporarily disabled and will return shortly.
Johnny Cash - Songwriter LP
Johnny Cash
Songwriter (Limited-Edition Smoke Color LP)
Johnny Cash - Songwriter CD
Johnny Cash
Songwriter CD
Johnny Cash - Songwriter LP
Johnny Cash
Songwriter LP
Paul McCartney & Wings - One Hand Clapping 2LP+7
Paul McCartney & Wings
One Hand Clapping (Limited 2LP + 7″)
Paul McCartney & Wings - One Hand Clapping 2CD
Paul McCartney & Wings
One Hand Clapping 2CD
Paul McCartney & Wings - One Hand Clapping 2LP
Paul McCartney & Wings
One Hand Clapping 2LP
uDiscover Music - Back To Top
uDiscover Music - Back To Top