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Gary Moore, 1952-2011

Stuart Bailie | 21:08 UK time, Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Gary Moore story started on East Bread Street, in the hulking shadow of the ropeworks in east Belfast. In time, he would play with Thin Lizzy and Skid Row, a friend of George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Ozzy Osbourne. He was a virtuoso guitarist in that he could play extremely fast and send those fingers roaring along the frets. But Gary was not just a speed merchant. His ear was tuned to Irish traditional music, he made a reputation in jazz-fusion and metal, even experimenting with hip hop. The music industry prefers an artist that will stay with one genre, but Gary was loyal to his own impulses, occasionally a feature in the sales charts but always happily engaged with his art.


In 1963, he saw The Beatles playing at the Ritz in Belfast and soon became a feature in the nearby Maritime Hotel, active at 13 years old with The Beat Boys. The son of a ballroom manager, he was born into showbusiness, playing covers such as Alma Cogan's 'Sugar In The Morning'. After a stint with The Method, he was installed in Dublin, where Skid Row was taking shape. Phil Lynott was on his way out but Brush Shiels would steer the three piece to America, managed by Fleetwood Mac's handler, Clifford Davis. Gary was mentored by the Fleetwood guitarist Peter Green, who even gave Moore his white Les Paul guitar. The gesture was later returned when Gary delivered 'Blues For Greeny'.

He made several appearances with Thin Lizzy, replacing Eric Bell in 1974 and recording the track 'Little Darlin', plus an early version of the live showstopper 'Still In Love With You'. He was touring with the band on a 1977 US tour with Queen and in 1979 he featured on the 'Black Rose' album, rocking hard and throwing 'The Mason's Apron' and 'Danny Boy' into the heroically overdone 'Roisin Dubh'.

Phil Lynott repaid the favours by contributing to 'Parisienne Walkways' and 'Out In The Fields', both hits. Gary was deeply moved by his friend's death in 1986, playing a squalling 'Whisky In The Jar' at the Self Aid event in Dublin later that year.


Around 1990 he had reconnected to his first musical passion, signified by 'Still Got The Blues', another top 40 tune. He became a Travelling Wilbury for the band's third album and experimented with sampling technology, always curious and looking for a new plan.
I spent the best part of a day with Gary in November 2006, interviewing him near his Brighton home for the music documentary, 'So Hard To Beat'. He was amusing and open-minded, sharing great stories and clearly still affected by the passing of Phil Lynott.

We're shocked by Gary's sudden demise, this morning in Spain. He was only 58 and we had assumed that he would have been a feature for a few more decades. I'll be playing some of his music on Monday's show, February 7 and I'd welcome your thoughts and musical requests.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    A tragic loss for the rock world. I saw Gary playing with Scars a few years ago in Wolverhampton and it was one of the most energetic shows I've ever seen - Gary broke more strings than was healthy and even the band's drummer, Darrin Mooney, smashed a cymbal (something I've not seen before or since!).

    There are plenty of tracks you could play, but some essentials include Black Rose, Waiting For An Alibi, Out In The Fields, Parisienne Walkways and Still Got The Blues.

    RIP Gary.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm from NY & came across your blog. I loved Gary Moore. When I 'discovered' him, I had no idea he had ever been in Thin Lizzy. Of course when I found out, naturally I wished I'd seen him play with them as I did when he played his solo blues show here back in 1991. I loved his metal stuff because even that was real. I found him to be the only male guitarist [Besides Steve Hackett & Brian May] that mattered, as I am a huge advocate of lady musicians being one myself. Yet when he released the Tribute to Phil Lynott with his friends. I felt I'd finally gotten to see Thin Lizzy even though Phil wasn't there, especially when he played Black Rose. I remember meeting him at one of his NY shows here & recieving a plectrum from him. He was most generous. I shall miss that perfect sound he had & his amazing voice. I am devastated! There will never be anyone like him, anyone who is playing guitar right now will never come close to his playing.

    Thank you Gary,
    luv, Wizard of Roz, NY

  • Comment number 3.

    I was at a St Patricks Day party in Hove a couple of years ago, Gary turned up with a guitar and amp and played for *many* hours with some guys on bass and drums.

    Totally rocked it, of course, in the corner of this kitchen, you really got a sense of music being his lifeblood.

    Amazing talent, gone to the gig in the sky as they say, RIP...

  • Comment number 4.

    Fast, furious, bold, loud but above all precisely sweet in everything he played. Gary's work with Thin Lizzy and as a solo artist will be remembered forever as will his wider reportoire and collaborations. His "Still Got The Blues" album remains one of my favourites and his solo on Parisienne Walkways still sends a chill down my spine. Rest In Peace, Gary Moore, Belfast legend.

  • Comment number 5.

    Saw Gary a few times, at his very best with BB King, At the Strat pack, playing just after surgery on his hand....played Red House like you wouldnt believe, my fave guitarist of all time, talent and hard work got Gary to the peak, Stars like him should make Simon Cowell hang his head in shame for the rubbish he produces.

    R.I.P Gary, thanks for the sounds.

  • Comment number 6.

    I saw Gary a number of times and he was the finest guitarist I ever saw in all my years in the world of rock and roll. I cannot believe the legend has gone. My heart felt sympathies to Gary's family, he bought so much joy to so many people and you should all be so proud of him. He touched my heart with his guitar genius and song writing many years ago and I will never forget him. He will always hold the mantle of 'the legend' in my mind and will never be replaced.

    RIP Gary. You are my favourite guitarist of all time and I thank you

  • Comment number 7.

    Not sure i can add any more to what has already been said as it is still shocking to think that the man the gutair the live experience is no more.

    if you never saw him live then it will go down as one of the biggest regrets you will ever have as on stage is where he came alive.

    the passion the sheer joy of playing the songs that he loved and we loved was there in the rawest form possible.

    I was lucky enough to have seen him many times over the years on the big stage and some intimate venues and each and every time he blew me away.

    I was also lucky enough to have shared a few drinks with the man and to say he was genuine is an understatement.

    The room is a quieter place without him but like many other legends who have fallen before him the music will live on stronger and louder than ever before.

    And the next time we have a thunder storm just think of the party they are having up there.

    So i raise a glass and say thanks for the memories until we meet on the other side.

    Nick

  • Comment number 8.

    A very sad loss. Moore, like his mentor Peter Green, doesn't get the recognition he deserves as a stand-out electric guitarist. They both had far more range and expression than Clapton has in his little finger.

    Long before his time. A very sad loss.

    Oh, and Green didn't give Moore a white Les Paul. He sold him (for a pittance) his '59 wood finish Les Paul. Moore played it for years, including when he recorded an entire album of Green's songs under the title "Blues for Greeny".

  • Comment number 9.

    I WOULD JUST LIKE TO PAY MY RESPECT TO GARY MOORE THE BEST GUITARIST
    THIS WORLD HAS EVER SEEN AND WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN NO ONE WILL EVER BE
    ABLE TO PUT THEIR HEART AND SOUL INTO A GUITAR LIKE GARY MOORE DID
    I DONT NEED TO PUT SONGS OR ALBUMS IN JUST LISTEN TO HIS GUITAR
    PLAYING AND REMEMBER A GREAT MAN ALL MY LOVE TO U GARY MY WORDS WILL
    NEVER BE ABLE TO EXPRESS HOW MUCH YOUR GUITAR PLAYING MENT TO ME
    ONE OF MY GREAT SORROWS IS THAT I NEVER MET YOU ON THIS EARTH GOD BLESS

  • Comment number 10.

    I wrote a couple of short odes to Gary, I just wanted to say something about the man I have followed for over 35 years, they are just simple words but I just wanted to share them Rest In Peace Gary

    Here is the first one;
    He sang a song for all of use, he held his head up high, and when the notes they did fly we all began to cry, and now my friend I will play a song for all the days you are away, I will look for you to pass this way, and until the day we meet again my heart will be filled with sorrow. RIP Mr. Moore

    This is the second one with the first one incorporated;
    As he strode the hills of the Emerald Isle, he saw a figure in the distance. As the figure came closer he felt that he had been sent to lead him on his journey. “Can't I stay but one more day, I've got so much more to play,” the figure came closer and in the light he realized it was his friend who had left so many years ago. “I want to take you to a place where we can play, a place where all our friends have gathered”. And so he said “I think I shall be fine, off we go to play our songs until the end of time. So now my friend I will play a song for all the days you are away, I will look for you to pass this way, and until the day we meet again my heart will be filled with sorrow.RIP Gary you will be missed

    And Now the third one;
    As a young man I ran, from the forty-shades of green. But when I became an older man, I often dreamed of her emerald hues. And now that I have reached my journeys end, I plan to walk upon her lands until the end of time, from time to time I will stop a while, to play a mournful tune. May all those who knew of me, take comfort in the thought, that as I roam upon this land I shall call upon my friends to help me play my songs. Maybe a friendly Ranger or two, or perhaps an Angel from the Coast. Either way we shall play until the end of days Rest in Peace Gary

 

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