Monday 23 January 2017

Born to storm: The top five Irish axe-grinders

Published 12/02/2011 | 05:00

1. Rory Gallagher: He was the guitarist's guitarist. As a youngster, Brian May of Queen approached him in awe and asked how he achieved his wonderfully dirty sound.

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The gracious man from Donegal shared his trade secrets with the novice and, as May revealed: "That's how I got my sound." Others who have cited Gallagher as a big influence include The Edge, Slash from Guns N' Roses and Johnny Marr from The Smiths.

Gallagher almost joined The Rolling Stones after the band's guitarist Mick Taylor walked out following a series of blow-ups with Keith Richards. Rory's brother Donal, who was also his manager, once revealed: "It was January 1975. We'd just finished a tour and we got home to Cork. We got a phone call late at night from a man with a funny accent. He gave his name as Ian Stewart (the Stones' pianist and road manager) and asked if Rory would like to join the band. Rory wouldn't take the call."

Rory Gallagher sold millions of records, but the real foundation for his strong international fanbase was his powerhouse live delivery. He perfected a distorted, gritty sound combining screeching slide guitar with a rich growl of a voice.

In an era when flamboyant hippy chic was all the rage, Gallagher remained resolutely anti-fashion. He rarely took to the stage without his trademark check lumberjack shirt.

2. The Edge

Born in Wales, he has, famously, become more Irish than the Irish themselves. Dave Evans was both smart enough and gifted enough to get himself in at the very cutting edge of guitar technology when he became possibly the first person in Ireland to possess what was called an Echo Chamber. It provided him with the distinctive all-over sound which became his trademark.

In latter years, he has extended himself beyond mastery of what some regarded as early gimmicks to become a truly expressive artist.

3. Gary Moore

The late Belfast-born guitarist moved to Dublin in 1968 as a teenager while the Troubles were coming to a simmer. He joined Skid Row, led by Brush Shiels but fronted by the world's sexiest bassist, Phil Lynott.

His professional relationship with Lynott would continue until the latter's death in 1985.

4. Eric Bell

Another Belfast man grounded in the blues, Bell joined the legendary outfit Them shortly before vocalist Van Morrison jumped ship. He played lead on the first three Thin Lizzy albums, contributing the memorable riff to their first hit 'Whiskey In The Jar'.

He threw a tantrum on stage in 1973, making a dramatic exit and later explaining, "I couldn't handle it."

5. Pat McManus

As the guitarist with Mama's Boys, he came up with one of the greatest riffs in all of rock history, the lazy, sleazy, incredibly sexy signature to 'Needle In The Groove'. Everything else about Mama's Boys stank to high hell, but this is embedded in the rock of ages.

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