A taste of Rory Gallagher 25 years after his death

A taste of Rory Gallagher 25 years after his death
Rory Gallagher on Patrick's Hill.

TOMORROW marks the 25th anniversary of the untimely death of guitar virtuoso Rory Gallagher.

Delving through the archives reveals a plethora of images of the Donegal-born and Cork-based musician as well as a multitude of articles reporting on countless musical successes.

Born in 1948 in Ballyshannon and raised in Cork, Gallagher's musical talent was apparent from an early age.

The Echo's front page on April 22, 1961, shows a beaming young musician after he was just crowned one of the  

winners at a TV Talent Competition at the City Hall. 

While still at school during his early teens, Gallagher began playing with professional showbands throughout Ireland.

Most notably this included the Fontana.

On February 24, 1965, the paper reported on a performance the showband gave in a prestigious London venue.

"The Fontana became the first showband to open with a vocal number in the Gresham Ballroom on Monday, February 15. 

"Although a Monday, this ballroom (which is among England’s largest and most beautiful) had a capacity crowd for the Fontana. 

Rory Gallagher signing autographs in 1976 for school children outside Fitzgerald Park. Photograph taken by Liam Quigley who was a music photographer in the 1970s and 1980s.
Rory Gallagher signing autographs in 1976 for school children outside Fitzgerald Park. Photograph taken by Liam Quigley who was a music photographer in the 1970s and 1980s.

"As the revolving stage made the changeover from the local band, the Cork boys opened with 'The Hucklebuck'. "Normally bands open with an instrumental because the microphone speakers are placed at the side of the stage only after it completes the 180-degree turn. 

"The Fontana placed the speakers behind the drummer – taking a chance on the sound, which proved excellent."

Whilst in London, the band recorded tracks at the renowned Regent Sound Studio.

A year later, Gallagher went on to form rock and blues band Taste (originally 'The Taste') in 1966.

Taste L-R (Richard 'Charlie' McCracken, John Wilson and Rory Gallagher).
Taste L-R (Richard 'Charlie' McCracken, John Wilson and Rory Gallagher).

The original line up consisted of Gallagher on guitars and vocals, Eric Kitteringham on bass, and Norman Damery on drums, which later changed to Richard McCracken on bass and John Wilson on drums.

Taste played various venues across Cork and throughout the country before moving to London and touring internationally.

In August 1967 the band returned to Ireland for a few weeks, and much to the excitement of Leesiders played a concert at City Hall.

"Cork is in for a big treat this Saturday when The Taste are at last coming home.

"One of the biggest organisations in Britain recognised their talent and a new management and record are now in the offering. 

"Definitely the record will be original, which is already recorded, but on Saturday at the City Hall, Rory Gallagher, who wrote the tune, will play four originals and the first 12 people who guess the right tune recorded will receive a free record.

Macroom Mountain Dew Rory Gallagher concert.
Macroom Mountain Dew Rory Gallagher concert.

"To ensure that everyone can see the group, an arrangement has been made by 'Hatchets', the promoters for The Taste to play one session for the younger set before the last busses," an Echo report from August 21, 1967 states.

When Taste disbanded in 1970 Gallagher went on to have a highly successful solo career, selling millions of albums and touring the globe several times.

In June 1977 Macroom became the "rock capital of Ireland" overnight following Gallagher's first open-air performance at the Mountain Dew Festival to a crowd of around 8,500 people.

Crowds thumb lifts for the Macroom concert.
Crowds thumb lifts for the Macroom concert.

"They had come from far and wide to hear the young man perform for two hours, at a fee that worked out at £10,000 plus expenses or about £83 a minute," an Echo article stated. 

"But it was all worth it in the end for Gallagher who put on a splendid performance for a huge following that behaved itself impeccably."

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