Rory Gallagher, Guitar Hero

To be perfectly honest, the stereotypical guitar hero — the flamboyant virtuoso with superhuman skills — is a bit long in the tooth. They were a great breed, however, from Jimi Hendrix (the Louis Armstrong of rock guitarists) to Gary Moore and others. There isn’t a hard and fast line between the guitar superheros and straight guitar players who fronted rock and blues bands. Eric Clapton and Roy Buchanan are examples. In my mind, these are folks who are less flamboyant (except, as in the cases of Johnny Winter, Leslie West and Stevie Ray Vaughan, in how they dressed). Their on-stage demeanor is more as part of the band than as a wild man who whose goal is to be the sole focus of the spotlight. It’s only by nature of the guitar being the focal point that they draw the most attention. Clapton, for instance, barely moves on stage and seems happy to slide to the back when somebody else is being featured. That idea is full of exceptions and holes, of course. It’s just a conversation starter, highly debatable and possibly plain wrong. The question — Is there a difference between the ultra-flamboyant spotlight seeking guitarists and the mellower folks who just happen to play the instrument to which most attention is naturally pulled — came to mind watching these clips of the great Irish guitarist Rory Gallagher. “Bullfrog Blues” is above and “Shin Kicker” is below. One thing that is clear is that¬†Gallagher was an unbelievable guitarist. And, for all the volume, he plays with a tremendous amount of subtlety.

Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Irish Republic, on March 2, 1948. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Cork City in the south, and at age nine he became fascinated with American blues and folk singers he heard on the radio. An avid record collector, he had a wide range of influences, including Leadbelly, Buddy Guy, Freddie King, Albert King, Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker. Gallagher would always try to mix some simple country blues songs into his recordings. (Continue Reading…)

Wikipedia also has an insightful entry on Gallagher.