Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Absolutely essential: Rory Gallagher's life and times.

"Ghost Blues: The Story of Rory Gallagher" is a rockumentary available for viewing at Netflix. It tells the neglected story of the iconic Irish blues-rock guitar hero Rory Gallagher (1948-1995), and here's the part about it that floored me, phrased in the form of a list.

Johnny Marr (Smiths)
Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard)
James Dean Bradfield (Manic Street Preachers)
Shooter Jennings
Slash (Guns 'n' Roses)
The Edge (U2)

These six guitarists appear on the film in praise of Gallagher's legacy and his formative influence on their careers, and you'll no doubt notice that none of them have built a career based on Gallagher's intensely unique take on blues and rock.

Rather, Gallagher's specific inspiration to the early lives of these guitarists came both technically and metaphorically in the form of his legendarily focused approach to his craft, and his equally epochal stubbornness to the effect that a career in music was about doing it his way, as opposed to the way others sought to use him. As a non-musician who loves music, I see these as messages applicable to anyone's vocation.

Other witnesses include Ronnie Drew (Dubliners), Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones) and Cameron Crowe (rock journalist and filmmaker); as usual, Bob Geldof's piquant eloquence is much appreciated in helping tell the story. It's a little known tale deserving wider currency, and the video is a good place to begin.

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