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When you’ve recorded with Muddy Waters and some guy named Jimi Hendrix tells you he digs your work, you know you did something right.
Like Hendrix, the great Rory Gallagher unfortunately passed far too young—but he left us with some truly rollicking riffs and solos.
Gallagher had a searing, uncompromising blues-rock sound that he pursued even while others bailed out to record light pop-flavored blues records.
Rory Gallagher was born on March 2, 1948 and grew up in Cork, Ireland. His father played accordion and his mother was a singer and an actress in the Theatre in Ballyshannon—which has since been renamed the Rory Gallagher Theatre. Like surf rock legend Dick Dale, Rory himself started off on ukulele, and used his experience on that instrument to start learning guitar around age nine. By the time he was eleven, he was playing in front of audiences. By age fifteen, with his parents’s support Rory Gallagher was a working musician who was fully entitled to show up late to school due to his work. But to Rory, it was no party—even at social gatherings, he barely mingled. Even as a youth, Rory Gallagher was hell-bent on securing his place in music history.
Which he did manage to carve for himself. With his early band Taste and his later solo recordings, Gallagher won fans among the likes of Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, inspired an entire generation of star guitarists—and sold 30 million records worldwide as he went.
Although best known for his guitar work, Rory also played mandola, dulcimer, saxophone, banjo, mandolin, and the electric sitar.
Rory died in 1995 of complications after a liver transplant. He was 47 years old.
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