Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

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Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 22 Jan 2014, 18:20

I first heard Rory's music before I knew who he was- in the late '60s I heard his music, Taste's music, on the "underground" stations in Los Angeles, and on 4 and 8 track tapes of other kids in the L.A. suburb where I lived- between classes at high school, in the open-air market on the weekend afternoons at the local drive-in theater in Azusa (the place to get all those really funky blacklight posters, the newest music that you couldn't find in the local record stores, the really cool used jewelry and clothes that made up our makeshift "fashions" in the late 60's. All the so-called counter-culture stuff from that era. All the places where the "cool" kids, musicians, hippies hung out. But decades later, I can hear Taste's old recordings, and immediately flash back to those days and places.

I can't recall ever hearing or seeing him on the mainstream T.V. feeds, never on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, or later on Saturday Night Live, and of course, never on the Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Soul Train, or 99th Street West. In the early 70s most of my friends were of the same hometown kids, then young adults, all into music, and many in local working bands, during the era of Rory's early "solo" career, where he broke free of any pretense of being a member of a band, and emerged as the leader. But even then, and although he was, to my friends and me, of the stature of Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page, Peter Green, et al, he seemed to me this fiercely independent artist/musician, whose records and announcements of upcoming concerts spread through the local community more through word of mouth than through press announcements or media blitzes.

I'd heard his first solo album at friends' houses, and went to the local record stores which by then had started to realize it was in their best interests to stay on top of the game and feature Rory's albums. Still, never having seen him play, having only heard him, in my mind I pictured a rough, angry, aggressive sort of man.

Friends took me to see him- word spread through that little music community, Rory Gallagher was coming to Los Angeles. It wasn't in the headlines of the local paper, not announced on the news as when the Beatles came to town. But at the venue, there were lines to get in, people trying to buy tickets to the sold out show. People knew, by word-of-mouth, Rory was in town.

The first time I actually saw him walk out on stage with that beat up old Strat (and really, it wasn't that old at the time, but it bore the excessive wear marks of an artist obsessed with his craft, and was merely prematurely aged) play on stage I was dumbfounded at the sight of him, and amazed and the level of power, passion, and sheer joy radiating from him as he played- he was so young, so happy, so radically different from the mental image I had formed. Perhaps it was as much that juxtaposition- the very opposite image, so very different than the pre-concieved notion I envisioned of the man behind the music vs. this oh-so-different flesh and blood very human artist had as much to do with that moment being seared into my memory as his blistering guitar wizardry.

The way he grabbed the crowd's attention from the moment he walked up to the stage 'til the last encore of the evening, hooked us all in and held us there 'til he was ready to leave the stage-

I don't know how many times I saw him in the 70's- more than I can count, and more than are listed in Jay Jay's "this day in Rory history" thread. But it was always the same- someone from my circle of friends would say, "Rory Gallagher's coming to Los Angeles" and we'd pool our money, and appoint one of our crowd to go buy the tickets, and we'd go. Back then I'd never go to a concert or club alone, I was too timid. But there was never a shortage of friends to go with me to see him play.

The only instances I can recall of ever hearing him on T.V. back then were on Don Kirshner's Rock Concert show, late at night on the weekends, and I have a vague recollection of seeing him on the late night rock program, "Midnight Special," that would feature musicians like Zappa, Alice Cooper, etc., that weren't really in the mainstream, not yet.

I've posted this before, but it's so good, I'm posting it again-



I'm glad I happened to hang with a crowd that led me to see him. He was almost like the Invisible Man here.

Any other Americans out there who can recall ever seeing Rory on television back in the day? How did you find out about him?
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby Jimmy » 22 Jan 2014, 19:35

Hi Roberta, That is a great story. I've never seen Rory in concert, but I love hearing the tales of Rory and how he electrified audiences all over the world, and the stories of gigs here on the west coast are SO cool,. That being said, Whilst wearing a Rory shirt i have had complete srtangers come up to me here in Shasta county and tell me of seeing Rory . All where the same. They would shake thier head slightly and say how great he was. The 2 that come to mind was one guy who walked up to me in a 'best buy' and told me of seeing him at Santa Barbera College with 'Faces'. The other was a guy who told me his older brother brought him to a gig at The Warfield (I think it was) with Bob Seagar and some other act. He said and I quote " Rory blew them all of the stage'. made me want to cry :cry:
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby capo » 22 Jan 2014, 19:53

Rory first came across my radar as a silent figure pictured in the Rock Music magazines that I read cover to cover back in the 70's like Creem and Hit Parader. I remember being struck by his looks and image, unlike the silk shirt classic rock crowd or the Punk/New Wave crowd. The articles always described his high energy live shows and I was intrigued. Then early in 1982, on first getting Cable TV, there was a Friday night program called NIGHTFLIGHT that played vintage concerts like Jimi Plays Berkeley and others. One night on came Rory at Montreux 1979. I was brought up at the time with seeing elaborate stage shows, smoke, flashpots, huge lighting effects yet here was a man and his guitar on a bare stage, no effects , no lighting, just the power of his music and personality holding the crowd there and me at home in front of a small TV spellbound. By the second song, Last Of The Independents I was hooked and have never looked back. Thus my intro to the magic of one Rory Gallagher. Peace
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby no_noise_reduction » 23 Jan 2014, 13:03

There have been at least three different tv shows Rory would perform in occasionally. Besides DKRC these were Midnight Special (once or twice if my memory serves me right) and the rather unknown Barry Richards tv show, all of which seem to survive. One track from Rory's performance on the Barry Richards Show has also been released on an official DVD entitled "The Barry Richards TV Collection Vol. 1". This also appears to have been Rory's first ever appearance on tv overseas, there seems to be no earlier material of neither Rory nor Taste.
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby Annie Elliott » 26 Jan 2014, 23:26

Thanks so much for the great clip! Unfortunately the only memory I have of Rory as a kid is a very vague recollection of a friend's older brother's Tattoo'd Lady album. Really so sad that he wasn't better known in the US. I discovered him from Rolling Stones list of 100 greatest guitarists but to my mind he and Jimi are tied for #1.
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 27 Jan 2014, 00:58

Annie Elliott wrote:Thanks so much for the great clip! Unfortunately the only memory I have of Rory as a kid is a very vague recollection of a friend's older brother's Tattoo'd Lady album. Really so sad that he wasn't better known in the US. I discovered him from Rolling Stones list of 100 greatest guitarists but to my mind he and Jimi are tied for #1.


I'm particularly fond of that clip- I saw Rory there, that venue, that summer. I don't recall it being taped, so I can't honestly say I saw that show, but close enough. And I distinctly remember him wearing that red shirt when I saw him. ;)
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby Jay Jay » 27 Jan 2014, 21:10

Could I ask our USA Rory friends /fans a question..

Would any of you know, which cities /states did Rory get welcomed back to play gigs mostly. Or best full house concert attendances usually??..
From mid 70's to early 80's.
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 28 Jan 2014, 06:10

Sadly, I never saw Rory in the eighties. I was immersed in my own personal soap opera, and I was a single parent juggling work and college.

But in the 70'sm, whenever I saw him play, it was always to a packed house. I'm convinced that he had every bit the momentum to be as widely popular as all the lesser talents of the 60s and 70s, but his aversion to releasing singles and going a little more commercial put him in a position to have to work 20x harder than some of the talentless hacks that he performed with as the years went by, many of them mediocre talents who are now household names. Rory worked harder, essentially trying to cover the world with nothing more than his talent, reputation, and work ethic, and I think he lost momentum, and I fear it cost him, took its toll on his health and his spirit. It isn't fair, and it isn't right.

But back to your original question, Jay Jay- Whenever I went to see Rory play in the 70's, it was to a sold out house. We heard about his arrival and his schedule mostly by word of mouth, and Rory was always warmly welcomed by the audience.
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby Jay Jay » 28 Jan 2014, 09:29

Jay Jay wrote:Would any of you know, which cities /states did Rory get welcomed back to play gigs mostly

RobertaSparrow wrote: Whenever I went to see Rory play in the 70's, it was to a sold out house.


Thanks Cynthia for your reply..
I presume your meaning Oregan where you live now as to the second part to my question?

As I'm trying to establish and compare the USA to Europe where Rory was more popular. Like I don't know whether many Rory fans know worldwide..
That Rory Gallagher was far more well known throughout Germany than even in Ireland. From that period of time mid 70's to early 80's.
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Re: Rory in the U.S.A., the Invisible Man?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 28 Jan 2014, 12:39

No, sadly I never saw Rory in Oregon. I moved up here in 1990, and by then Rory wasn't touring much. As far as gigs in Oregon, I think his visits to this state were limited to Portland, which is about 150 miles from the Willamette Valley where I now live.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and in the 70's I saw Rory in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Long Beach. Los Angeles County is a very densely populated area, and there are several major towns situated around L.A. that were an easy drive from the San Gabriel Valley where I grew up. I live in Oregon. But Los Angeles is my home. I just don't live there anymore :(
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