“The man who changed my musical life was Rory Gallagher, I picked up a guitar because of him.” Johnny Marr
There’s that great Jimi Hendrix story – the one where he was asked “What’s it like to be the greatest guitarist in the world?”. “I don’t know”, replied Hendrix, “go ask Rory Gallagher!”.
There is no escaping from the fact that Gallagher, up until his untimely death in 1995, was truly one of the greatest ever guitarists. Hendrix knew it which is why Gallagher stands shoulder to shoulder not just alongside Jimi Hendrix but Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Peter Green and Eric Clapton. Since appearing with his first band Taste, Rory Gallagher has held the respect of every major and aspiring guitarist on the planet. From Slash to Johnny Marr, Brian May to The Edge, Joe Satriani to Ritchie Blackmore, the admiration for Rory Gallagher is nothing short of gargantuan.
In November 1977, after completing a six-month world tour, Rory Gallagher and his band flew straight from their last show in Japan to San Francisco to begin working on a new album, with famed American producer Elliot Mazer (Neil Young ‘Harvest’, Janis Joplin ‘Cheap Thrills’, The Band ‘The Last Waltz’). Mazer recalls that the sessions grew “tense”, as Gallagher wasn’t happy with the mixing process, describing them as “too complicated”, and by the end of January 1978 he shelved the whole record and broke up his band of the past five years.
Fast forward to 2010 and Rory’s brother and manager, Donal, allowed his son and Rory’s nephew, Daniel, to recover the album from the Gallagher archive and begin the process of mixing it with his engineer. Rory said in 1992 he hoped the album would surface one day but only if it were remixed and now we finally get to hear this never before issued studio album from a key period of Gallagher’s career, an album that would have been released between ‘Calling Card’ and ‘Photo Finish’. This is truly a Holy Grail release for Rory’s fans.
CD 2 is also another fabulous discovery, a blistering live album taken from four nights at The Old Waldorf, San Francisco December 1979. In the audience Van Morrison, on stage Rory Gallagher (guitar/vocals), Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums).
Daniel Gallagher chose to add the live side to highlight why Rory chose to shelve the studio album and reduce his band back down to a three piece. As Rory often said he wanted to get back to ‘meat and potatoes rock & roll’. Rory’s desire to get back to the stripped back, three-piece line up of his earlier solo and Taste work may in part be down to his attendance at the infamous Sex Pistols show at The Winterland Ballroom. While mixing the studio record in January 1978, Rory Gallagher went along to the show and was completely blown away by the Pistols energy and fury, he described it ”as close to Eddie Cochran as you’re going to get’.’
Incidentally, the album’s sleeve image is an original postcard Rory Gallagher posted to his mother while on tour. Gallagher would always send postcards back home to Ireland from wherever he was in the world. The Limited Deluxe Edition of ‘Notes From San Francisco’ will include a set of personalised Rory postcards complete with ‘Rory Stamps’ which have been sourced from the original US company that produced them. Also included are reproductions of Rory’s hand written lyrics which were kept by Elliot Mazer.
Gallagher died in 1995 at the age of 47, but his genius is immortalised across the globe. A street has been named after him in Paris, a corner in Dublin’s bohemian Temple Bar; a bronze statue stands in his birthplace Ballyshannon, there’s Rory Gallagher Place in his native Cork, while the city also houses the Rory Gallagher Music Library. Annual tributes are held all over the world from Germany to Japan and The International Rory Gallagher Tribute Festival in Ballyshannon sees thousands of fans travel to his birth town every year to celebrate this brilliant man and musician.
Rory Gallagher has sold in excess of 30 million albums
‘Notes From San Francisco’ will be released in Europe on Friday 3rd June.
CD 1 (recorded at His Master’s Wheels Studio, San Francisco in 1978)
1. Rue The Day
3. B Girl
4. Mississippi Sheiks
5. Wheels Within Wheels
6. Overnight Bag
7. Cruise On Out
8. Brute Force & Ignorance
9. Fuel To The Fire
10. Wheels Within Wheels (alternative version)
11. Cut A Dash
12. Out On The Tiles
CD 2 (recorded live at The Old Waldorf in San Francisco, December 1979)
1. Follow Me
3. Off The Handle
4. Bought And Sold
5. I’m Leavin’
6. Tattoo’d Lady
7. Do You Read Me
8. Country Mile
9. Calling Card
10. Shadow Play
11. Bullfrog Blues
12. Sea Cruise
Audio : Rory Gallagher – Rue The Day