Rory Gallagher biography

Born on 2nd March 1948 in Ballyshannon, Ireland, he played already at the age of 15 in the Irish Fonta-Show-Band, from which soon developed the blues-touched formation "The Impact". With his first trio "Taste" Rory trained his live performance in the Starclub of Hamburg.
In 1968 he had his first international success caused by some big concerts. The last concert with the formation "Taste" was "Isle of Wight" in the film "Message of love". At this time "Taste" belonged to the three best trios in the world ("Cream", "Free", "Taste"). In 1970 Rory began his solo career with the album "Rory Gallager". It was financed by his mother, because Rory has been left financially ruined by his last manager E. Kennedy and the recording company POLYDOR.

From this time onwards his best friend and brother Donal was responsible for the management. For Rory the most important things in life were his music and his live performances. He gained the image of the "anti-star", because although he was very popular he didn't want to have anything to do with music business and the connected hype.

Although he didn't like it, Rory was from then on a superstar. Nevertheless he still was the "magician in the checked shirt", as he was called by many popular guitar players, e.g. Jeff Beck, Slash (Gun's and Roses), Gary Moore (Thin Lizzy) and Tony Spinner. In the whole business there is nobody with that many studio invitations by musicians being his own idols, such as Muddy Waters, Albert King,
Jerry Lee Lewis and Chris Barber.

In 1977 he was opener of the first Rockpalast-Night. Throug this gig Rory gained a lot of recognition in Europe. Rory was deeply connected by friendship with his fans and the Rockpalast-team (e.g. Rudi Gerlach, ex-cameraman) until his death. 1979 was a legendary year for Rory. At the 25th anniversary of the company Fender he got a guitar which was built according to his ideas.
The guitar became, as the checked shirt, one of his features.

Although Rory was on tour through America he fulfilled a request of his friends from the Rockpalast to perform a concert in Wiesbaden during the Maifestspiele. This concert's opener was the Scottish musician and friend Frankie Miller.

In the years 1979 - 1982 he produced two studio albums ("Photo- Finish" and "Top-Priority") which were in the international LP-charts within the first 30 ranks. This had never been a goal for this exceptional musician, although he was very pleased. Rory had never been interested in the show, surrounded by Marshall-towers. His equipment were until the very end his familiarized Vox AC-30-AMP, Volume pedal and 61 Strat (Bought in 1964 at Cork, Crowleys MUSIC Center).

At this time he paused for three years and played just at three festivals. In 1985 he came back, recovered and with a deeply rooted blues-feeling. The following interviews were unforgettable "chimney fire talks" for most of the journalists, full of living rock history. Again he could often be seen in the Rockpalast (Loreley, Köln, etc.). As always Rory was one of the most popular festival musicians in the whole world.

He played in 1989 in New York's Bottom Line Club, where he was asked by a young musician to play together with him. It turned out that this musician was Slash from Gun's and Roses. This evening - as Slash is telling already today in interviews - has remained an unforgettable memory to him. Rory's physical exosperation increased - the result of hard work and partially nights of drinking. Nevertheless he didn't lose his virtuosity. In 1993 his Saarlandic fans were able to have at last a blues firewhile, burnt by Gallagher and band. Rory's exhaustion was so advanced that he played sitting and with bleeding hands (woundings from infusions) which was totally atypical for him.

The last concert in Germany was given on December 9th in 1994 in Munich. At this concert and the following ones in Holland which ended partially in disasters, Rory had to quit his concert on February, 23rd 1995 in Amsterdam right during the first song. He was instantly flown to a hospital in London, where a liver transplantation was prepared and finally carried out in May.
After apparently being healed the lonely musician died at the age of 47 on June 14th 1995 in the hospital in London.

Some people who knew him see the cause of death in the abuse of alcohol. In the final stages one assumes two bottles of whiskey a day. Others speak of medical drugs. There can be no final answer to these questions, even his brother who always had been at his side can't (or doesn't want to) tell, as he personally told me.I also think that, at last, it isn't necessary to reveal the whole truth.His early death caused a shock for many people because he wasn't just a musical genius but also a very warm-hearted personality. In Ireland and Northern Ireland he is a national hero:


"The Great and Gentleman"

This short-biography has been written by Karl-Heinz "20$ Bill" Bilstein ( and is copyright protected. We really thank 20$ Bill for his allowance to publish it on our Tribute-Homepage.