by Julian Vignoles
Rory Gallagher is revered as one of the greatest guitarists ever to pick up the instrument. The energy of his shows and his commitment to the audience is legendary. His career began in an Irish showband, followed by four years as the central talent of Taste, regarded by many as the greatest Irish band of the 1960s. He went on to even greater fame as a solo artist in the 1970s. The Edge, Johnny Marr and Joe Bonamassa are among his many fans. Gallagher was an inveterate performer, often performing over one hundred gigs a year. Tragically, after his success peaked, his later life was troubled and ended in disillusion.Gallagher bounded across countless stages with the swagger of a rock star, but despite his extraordinary talent and global acclaim, offstage he was a shy and unassuming man, not given to ostentation. Unlike most of his rock peers, there were no wild parties, no marriages or divorces. Though appearing almost saintly to many, he had a steely ambition, and could hire and fire to realise his musical vision. His short life shifted between the bright lights of success and the darkness of personal struggle. Modest and private by nature, this fiery rocker with an inner angst has been shrouded in mystery since he first entered the public eye.Drawing on extensive interviews in Ireland and abroad with those who knew him, Julian Vignoles casts new light on the familial, musical and sociocultural contexts that inspired Gallagher, and on the complex personality that drove his career. Contrary to belief, he willingly rather than reluctantly spent three years in the Fontana showband. This was frowned on by the Christian Brothers who ran his secondary school, the North Monastery. Despite such negative encounters with the Church, many will be surprised to learn that the great showman was a devout Catholic all his life. Vignoles reassesses Gallagher's songwriting, suggesting it has been somewhat overlooked because of his dexterity as a guitarist. Crucially, the book shows how many of Gallagher's songs speak eloquently - and poignantly - about the person who penned them.Meticulously researched, this intimate portrait is the insightful biography that Rory Gallagher deserves. An engrossing read, it will be as revelatory for curious neophytes as for his legions of loyal fans.