Rory Gallagher book recalls three-decade friendship

 

IT’S BEEN a long time coming but almost 20 years after he first thought about writing a biography of Rory Gallagher, blues fan and radio producer Marcus Connaughton has finally seen his ambition realised with the publication of Rory Gallagher – His Life and Times.

Connaughton first heard Gallagher play in 1968 in the National Stadium when he was a teenager and he had the good fortune to meet him the same night, thus helping to foster an admiration and a friendship that was to be cemented over the best part of three decades.

“I think anyone who saw him then, there was an energy about him when he walked out on stage and he put on the Strat. I had grown up reading a lot of westerns, so you were looking for heroes and we didn’t have too many of them at the time, so Rory was a hero for us.”

The book, published by the Collins Press, traces Gallagher’s career from his early days with The Fontana through Taste and later fronting his own band. While Connaughton thought he knew a lot about the Ballyshannon-born musician, he learned a lot more from fans and friends.

“The story runs from the day Rory bought his guitar from Mick Crowley in 1963 to his passing in June 1995. The fans have a huge knowledge of his work so that made it a great challenge, but I interviewed over 20 people and got great help from so many people who knew him.

“I was very conscious of trying to relate Rory’s story to the time that we grew up in and, of course, as well to how much Cork meant to him. He used to joke about coming home to sharpen up his accent – and how much he was part of the DNA of Cork.”

The book was launched last week at Cork City Hall by Cork musician Philip King, something that particularly pleases Connaughton as King accompanied him to Gallagher’s last ever concert in Ireland at Cork RTC in November 1993.

“I didn’t realise, of course, it was to be Rory’s last show in Ireland but afterwards we went back to his hotel and I sat up with him chatting until the small hours of the morning about the different styles of blues.

“It was the greatest of chats and something I will always cherish.”