“I FIRST HEARD ABOUT RORY IN 1972…while I was hanging out in the UK..even though i was a big music fan we”d never heard about Rory in Canada….I used to read the British music paper in the uk called the “melody maker” it was a great paper…and it had articles and record reviews…one issue, had a review of Rory’s brand new record “Live in Europe..” after reading the review, I went out and bought the album..couldn’t listen to it ’cause my friend and I were backpacking and didn’t have access to a record player..so I had to wait until we returned to Canada to hear it…when i did finally get to hear the album, it just blew me away…esp. his slide playing…I’d been playing guitar since i was a kid, but now I was ‘hooked’…I decided that I would try and become a serious player. Later in the year, I couldn’t believe when we read in a Toronto newspaper that Rory and his band were going to be playing in March ’73 at the famous “Colonial Tavern’ on Younge St in downtown Toronto, ,my brother and a whole bunch of our friends took the train to Toronto and saw him play all week!! it was $2.50 to get in, and we arrived at 5pm every afternoon to get good seats…he played all of our favorite songs and all the stuff from ‘Live in Europe”…
I remember looking at him from the floor (it was a smallish club) and thinking how cool he looked and his stage moves – just the best!!
I remember looking at him from the floor (it was a smallish club) and thinking how cool he looked and his stage moves – just the best!! and since we’d been drinking lots of beer having to go to the bathroom..but holding it ’cause i didn’t want to miss a second of his show! Years later when i met him i told him that I’d seen him at the Colonial back in ’73..he said; “oh yes..the good old days” That was when I met Rory for the first time… at the” colonial”…we couldn’t believe how friendly and down to earth he was!!
After one of his sets, he walked to bar and had a beer – we were all over him
After one of his sets, he walked to bar and had a beer – we were all over him, and he was kind enough to autograph a ‘taste’ cd that I bought at a record store down the street from the club.. I brought in a little cassette recorder and recorded all of the concerts..when I got home I played along to the tapes with my guitar for about 2 years I almost wore them out… but i still have them (I still play along with them do from time to time!!) trying to figure out his style..it was hard work..but i finally( sort of) got” it” … lol!!
I got a lucky break and my band got to open for him in Montreal
I didn’t see him again until 1983.. when I got a lucky break and my band got to open for him in Montreal…we met him at his souncheck and I showed him some of my guitars..i was tickled when he put on my old pink Stratocaster (with the matching pink strap) and played it – it looked so cool on him!!..He said… “it’s just like mine!!! (actually it’s funny… i always wanted a guitar like his.. and my guitar was made just weeks after his famous ‘Strat”was made (you can see some pics of my guitar it on my website.).and lucky me got to play his beautiful beat up Strat.
Later, while we did our set I saw him at the side of the stagewatching our set
Later, while we did our set I saw him at the side of the stagewatching our set..I wish now that we’d played one of our Rory “covers”..I’m sure he would have got a kick out of it!! then.. I watched him play his set from backstage – that was pretty cool!
he was standing up shaving with shaving foam all over his face…he caught my eye in the shaving mirror and gave me a mischievous wink and said, “ah…now that you’ve seen me like this…all the mysterys gone…hasn’t it?
The next time i met him, was the best.!!.he played in my hometown, and i knew the club owner.. so I had the “run” of the club….my manager who was with me, told me that Rory looked up at me during the sound check as if trying to remember who i was..I walked up him.. and sure enough, he did remember me and asked me if i was still playing and asked about my pink Strat! After his (3hour!!) soundcheck.. i hung out with him in his dressing room..I guess one of the nicest things I remember about Rory, was during that visit..i was sitting on a couch in the dressing room, and he was standing up shaving with shaving foam all over his face..he caught my eye in the shaving mirror and gave me a mischievous wink and said, ” ah…now that you’ve seen me like this.. all the mysterys gone.. hasn’t it”?? I just thought that was so cool..i get goosebumps just thinking about it again!!
I got a chance to tell him that he was the reason I decided to make music my life…he did seem to enjoy hearing that – it made us a little closer, I think…
I got a chance to tell him that he was the reason I decided to make music my life..he did seem to enjoy hearing that – it made us a little closer, I think… he did have that Irish way about him..very superstitious.and you can really hear the irish influence in his music..one of a kind!!
I was concerned that night when i saw how tired he looked and also how much he was drinking .. beer with huge glasses of cognac as ‘chasers’..he wasn;t a big guy..like a little leprechaun..we hung out in his dressing room had a few drinks..he admired my maryilyn munroe t-shirt.. and I stripped it off and offered it him..but he said it wouldn’t fit him…
I couldn’t believe how lucky i was to be hanging out with him..i played him my cover version of “Shadow Play”….he was nodding his head and tapping his toes…he said “and your slide playing …I never thought of putting slide on it
Then we went to his hotel and played guitar all night until 7 or 8 the next morning I couldn’t believe how lucky i was to be hanging out with him..i played him my cover version of ” shadow play”… I had a cassette player with me, and my version was a live recording we’d played opening for Johnny Winter..Rory seemed to love hearing it…he was nodding his head and tapping his toes..he said “and your slide playing ..I never thought of putting slide on it”!!! that just blew me away..finally all those years of “woodshedding” paid off!! (ha ha!).
he told me (in a proud voice) that Jimmy Page had told him that Led Zepplin used to jam on “Sinner Boy”
He asked me later what ‘sign’ I was..cancer…later, i found out that our signs are very compatible…Moonchild’ one of my all time favorite Gallagher songs… So soulful!! I asked him to show me how to play “Sinner Boy” ( i’d tried for years to learn the intro..I just couldn’t figure out the chords) he told me (in a proud voice) that” Jimmy Page had told him that Led Zepplin used to jam on” sinner boy”.
one of my guitars (an old, white “Supro” that he’d been playin all night…I decided to give to him…he REALLY didn’t want to take it!!
At around 6AM one of his roadcrew came in and brought Rory his ‘dinner’… fried chicken and a couple of Heinikens..he offered us some of his dinner …but I thought we better go…he had to drive 6 hours to play the next gig… One of my guitars (an old ,white ” Supro” that he’d been playin all night.. i decided to give to him..he REALLY didn’t want to take it!! he said:: ‘don’t give it to me in a flush..i’ll be here until 10 o\clock..you can come back and get it’…. NO i said… it wasn’t going to happen – it was his now..I also gave him a few glass slides..that really seemed to impress him..(funny how sometimes it’s the”little things’ that mean so much..)
Years later, a photographer sent me some photos he took in NYC… there was Rory, playing my guitar and using one of my glass slides
Years later, a photographer sent me some photos he took in NYC… there was Rory, playing my guitar and using one of my glass slides..I also have some photos of him using it again at the “montreaux jazz festival” in switzerland …
my infant daughter, Ginger, brought me the mail and there was a letter with a british stamp on it… with” Hotel Conrad” stationary and “r. gallalgher’ hand written on the back of the envelope
I wrote to Rory in the early 90’s and didn’t get a reply for some time..but one morning, we heard the mailman delivering our mail..my infant daughter Ginger, brought me the mail and there was a letter with a british stamp on it.. with” Hotel Conrad” stationary and “r.gallalgher’ hand written on the back of the envelope…he wrote me a beautiful letter..very personal and sweet…it’s one of my most treasured belongings…I found out later that while he was staying at the Conrad he was VERY depressed and thought everybody has forgotten about him..so maybe the letter I wrote him cheered him up a little…I hope so.
The day he died..after I heard the bad news (i didn’t know he was ill..) I played ‘Going to my Hometown” as an” eulogy”..the world felt (and still does) like an emptier place without Rory……
I told him about one of my favorite guitars, that has my name inlaid in mother of pearl on the fingerboard…he dismissed it as being “too flashy”
What was he like?? alot of stuff has been written about him…I loved his great sense of humour ..he was a very intelligent man..very humble but very ‘proud at the same time..very private..and he stuck to his guns..i told him about one of my favorite guitars, that has my name inlaid in mother of pearl on the fingerbaord..he dismissed it as being “too flashy” oh well..(ha ha ).
Another time, I tried to coax him to take a photo of us:” mugging it up” with my guitars..he told me he wouldn’t pose like that..it wasn’t “professional” !!!!! Well… I hope you got a kick out of my monolouge… (sorry for my lousy typing!! ) Keep in touch..if there’s anything else you want to know drop me a line!!
All The Best! Paul Fenton
PERSONAL LETTER FROM RORY GALLAGHER TO PAUL (June 14th, ) :
FOLLOWING IS THE TEXT OF THE LETTER SENT TO PAUL FROM RORY GALLAGHER:
June 14th 
I hope you and YOURS are well. (congrats on Ginger).
I certainly have good memories of our gig &meeting in Ottawa.
Sorry, I haven’t been back to Canada in awhile.
Your C.D. sounds VERY FINE. (also thanks for (your version) of” Continental Op” on cassette.
I’m glad that you are still into the the old ‘classic’ guitars & amps & echos.
I’ve just finished a Peter Green tribute album. (two tracks re-arranged).
I’m about to record two L.ps of mostly my own material (one electric – one acoustic)
I am now working with a new Bass player & drummer (Richard Newman) son of Tony (Jeff Beck) plus some guests.
It’s been a period of transition, but it’s coming together nicely. (I’ve almost beaten the flying jag!!)
So you may see us in the next number of months.
Please write again. (Same address unless I write a new one !!)
My Best Regards.
Good Luck with everything.
Thanks!!! Rory Gallagher
P.S. I’m jealous of your “Dano” in the case –
To read more about my further adventures with Rory Gallagher, visit my first Airline page…