Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Rock memorabilia #1 - Rory Gallagher

A new thread for my blog. Looking back at some of the little bits and pieces of rock memorabilia gathered over years of fanhood and listening to and watching bands live.

This first one is a fragile and much treasured piece of paper:

A ticket for a Rory Gallagher concert at the Apollo in Glasgow which I managed to get the great man to autograph. it was the only piece of paper I had when we met him!

Pete Mill and I were on study leave for our school "Highers" exams and took the train through to Glasgow on the afternoon before the gig. We were hanging about outside the theatre in the late afternoon when Rory and the guys from the band turned up. We had a quick chat and he signed this ticket, which I've managed to hang on to for the last 28 years! The gig was fabulous, as I recall.

Rory G was a stunningly good blues rock guitarist from Ballyshannon in Northern Ireland who died too tragically young in 1995 at the age of 47 following complications after a liver transplant operation. You can read more about him here. I was introduced to his music around the age of 10 or 11 by my mum's brother, my Uncle David, the source of so much of my early musical listening inspiration. I remember the first time I ever heard him (Rory, not Uncle David). I was on holiday at my Gran's in Irvine and Uncle David was watching Rory on TV perform live on something like the Old Grey Whistle Test - even at that relatively tender age, it blew me away and Uncle David raved about him. I quickly learned to love his music (as well as learning to love my Uncle David's LP and tape collection!). Even though there were occasional "heavy" tracks that were and are too much for me, his playing still gives me goose bumps today. Rory was a consummate talent on guitar, both electric (his beloved and much battered Fender) and acoustic, as well as on the mandolin and harmonica. What else do you need?

Here's a link to a TV studio live performance of one of my favourite Rory tracks, Out on the Western Plain (which, incidentally, he performed at that Glasgow Apollo gig and the other time I saw a full show, on 27th August 1986 at the Queen's Hall in Edinburgh).

A couple of years ago, when my wife and I took the old campervan around Ireland for a fortnight in summer, we made a wee pilgrimage to Ballyshannon to pay homage to the Ballyshannon Man, talked to a guy who claimed to know him, etc. I found it quite moving really. There is a small "shrine" to Rory up a wee alley beside where he lived in the town:

Tribute to Rory Gallagher in Ballyshannon. This was next to a laundry, which seems to be as good a reason as any to put in a link to Rory performing his classic "Laundromat"!

Finally, it's impossible not to love this and to lament a talent lost far too young. This is classic Rory G. Sit back and enjoy "Going to my home town"!

Addendum: When I posted a link to this on Facebook, my oldest friend, Dougie, reminded me that we had been to yet another Rory gig together, at the Playhouse. I found I still have the ticket (with his surname on it, so I presume he booked them)- it was on a 3rd of October sometime between 1982 (my first Rory gig) and 1986 (my last) (but the ticket, annoyingly has no year on it!) and we had front row seats in the stalls, not that the crowd stayed in their seats, so we were right down at the front - Dougie reminded me that Rory shook our hands about five times that night! And he also remembered that Rory's band included Mark Feltham, astonishing harmonica player. I'd forgotten all this (well, it was probably 25 years ago!), so many thanks to Dougie for that!

The rest of my Rory G tickets


  1. great post bro...he was a legend wasnt he!...
    i remmember gran telling uncle david to turn down the music when we stayed at grans on hols... lol...remmember he was irvine darts champion?(uncle david not rory!)

  2. Rory played the Edinburgh Playhouse on October 3, 1987 he then played the Glasgow Pavilion the next night.


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