Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Messin' with the kid
An album I keep coming back to time and again is Rory Gallagher's eponymous solo outing from 1971. And as any self respecting, chin stroking, rock buff will tell you - step forward David Hepworth - 1971 was a vintage year for classic albums that has (probably) never been bettered.
After experiencing rave reviews with Taste (frequent comparisons were made at the time to Hendrix's combo) the lad from Ballshannon who had started out (as indeed had most young Irish musicians before him) on the showbands circuit, went solo.
He enjoyed considerable success on his home turf, in the UK and in mainland Europe. His gigs were invariably sell outs and often went on into the wee hours. Shows in excess of three hours were not uncommon - you just couldn't get him off the stage.
I won't dwell on his untimely end but instead give you an idea of just how high his stock was in the mid 70s. When Mick Taylor left The Rolling Stones it appeared that William Rory Gallagher was in the frame to plug the gap. Rory's brother, Donal, picks up the story.
"At the end of 1974, Mick left the band and Keith and Mick had to look for a replacement. In January 1975, I got a phone call from The Stones management wondering if Rory might be interested, because Mick saw a lot in Rory. That was the case and of course it also made my mouth water. The auditions took place in The Hague, in The Netherlands. Rory went there on his own, and to this day I regret that. He was put up in a hotel, jammed a bit with the band, but no decision was forthcoming. Even then The Rolling Stones were an unassailable mega act and could have everything they wanted and keep everybody waiting. Rory on the other hand had a tour of Japan in his agenda and those dates kept getting closer. The Stones’ management knew that, but probably thought that Rory would cancel it. However they didn't count on Rory’s stubbornness, as well as his loyalty to his fans. He kept waiting to the end, but finally packed his bags and left a note at the reception: "If you still want me then I will hear from you" and he left for Japan. If I had been there I would have tied him to his chair if I had to. I wonder sometimes: what would have become of him if he had become a member. Would he be alive still? There was never any word from The Stones. They were probably offended to death by his perceived impertinence."
Listen to Laundromat (Side 1, Track 1 from Rory Gallagher) and tell me that Mr Wood was the right man for the job. No offence Ronnie, but what the Stones needed back then (and probably still do) was someone who could bring something new to the table; not a Keef clone.
Rory Gallagher: Laundromat