Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

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Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby capo » 13 Mar 2016, 22:54

Annie Elliot in another thread posted an article link to a major feature on Rory's life back in 2009 in Guitar World where the writer summed up Rory living a "short, sad life". There are many other examples of this view of Rory, including recent threads here, of a tragic, lonely man without love or friends. I don't look at life, my own or others, through, as they say, "rose colored glasses", but truly, I don't recognize this Rory. True, longevity was denied him, but is not the value of life not how long you live, but how you live it? Rory, until the end, when he collapsed onstage that final night in Holland, was doing what he loved, creating vibrant, beautiful art, and touching countless people through it. When I think of Rory, sadness is not the thing I think of. The most tragic thing that happen to Rory was catching that god damn infection right when he was given a new lease on life with the transplant. But we all have to die one day. I choose not to think of Rory as a hapless victim. He battled his demons and kept on keeping on, not giving in. We all have setbacks and heartbreak in life, the longer we live, the more we will have to endure. Look, my point, in this disjointed post, is to say, we all have our image or "ideal" of Rory, I just think, all in all, he lived a great life, short but great. He did what most of we never do, the thing he loved, creating timeless, enduring music. His legacy is not one of sadness, but of a life well lived. So say I. Peace.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 13 Mar 2016, 23:14

IMO he was neither a tragic figure nor a myth. He was a very talented, gifted artist whose life was chronologically short, but in those years traveled more, and influenced and inspired more people than most of us will ever do with our full compliment of decades. I've been trying to mind his time line on the forum, and one cannot ignore that the man was incredibly committed to traveling and performing all over the world, from the time he was old enough to leave his family behind and strike out on his own.

I wish he had gotten well, and gone on to write, produce, and mentor more musicians, but he condensed enough living experience into his 47 years for several lifetimes.

I agree with Capo, he was doing what he loved, and doing it the way he felt it should be done. Whenever I saw him he looked to be the happiest man on the face of the earth, but I only saw him doing what he did best, playing his music before his fans. Not too shabby.

It was tragic that his life ended so soon. But he was not a tragic figure.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby Annie Elliott » 14 Mar 2016, 00:43

capo wrote:Annie Elliot in another thread posted an article link to a major feature on Rory's life back in 2009 in Guitar World where the writer summed up Rory living a "short, sad life". There are many other examples of this view of Rory, including recent threads here, of a tragic, lonely man without love or friends. I don't look at life, my own or others, through, as they say, "rose colored glasses", but truly, I don't recognize this Rory. True, longevity was denied him, but is not the value of life not how long you live, but how you live it? Rory, until the end, when he collapsed onstage that final night in Holland, was doing what he loved, creating vibrant, beautiful art, and touching countless people through it. When I think of Rory, sadness is not the thing I think of. The most tragic thing that happen to Rory was catching that god damn infection right when he was given a new lease on life with the transplant. But we all have to die one day. I choose not to think of Rory as a hapless victim. He battled his demons and kept on keeping on, not giving in. We all have setbacks and heartbreak in life, the longer we live, the more we will have to endure. Look, my point, in this disjointed post, is to say, we all have our image or "ideal" of Rory, I just think, all in all, he lived a great life, short but great. He did what most of we never do, the thing he loved, creating timeless, enduring music. His legacy is not one of sadness, but of a life well lived. So say I. Peace.


Not sure if you missed the part about Donal's comment regarding Rory's house being the point of my post.

I'm always surprised when I see that kind of statement as well. I guess it depends on perspective. If I think of a short life, I think ten years old or something like that, not 47. Also surprises me when people say his playing was bad the last years.

I'm not sure I wouldn't say he wasn't a tragic figure in some ways, and my personal feeling is that it was indeed tragic Rory left us so young. Of course parts of his life were sad, just like everyone's. But mostly I think he was a unique, talented, beautiful person who had a passion as well as a few demons. Unfortunately the demons took their toll.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby SUBY1974 » 14 Mar 2016, 05:39

Rory is my hero and he always will be. Subrata.xx
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby ailish78 » 14 Mar 2016, 09:32

I think you summed it up very well Annie. I'd just like to add that I think he had a wonderful life. There are not many people could have experienced what he did in his short lifetime. He met many people and travelled to many places and his life was full of music. Perfect! However you have to ask yourself what made him take his obsession with playing the guitar and touring so far. Was he trying to escape from some kind of underlying sadness in his life. Why couldn't he recognise what the alcohol and medication were doing to his body earlier? That is the tragedy of the whole thing. This gifted man still had so much to offer and that makes me very sad.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby Jay Jay » 14 Mar 2016, 09:50

ailish78 wrote:Was he trying to escape from some kind of underlying sadness in his life. Why couldn't he recognise what the alcohol and medication were doing to his body earlier? That is the tragedy of the whole thing. This gifted man still had so much to offer and that makes me very sad.


Ailish, the same could be said about all these ones here in the "27 Club" of famous musicians https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/27_Club

At least we got to be grateful we had 20 more years of our musical hero's life. Plus IMO Rory fitted into his life with his all around the world man work attitude. More than 10 average men could fit in a lifetime.

Rock On for Rory
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby folkdeejay » 14 Mar 2016, 09:50

ailish78 wrote:I think you summed it up very well Annie. I'd just like to add that I think he had a wonderful life. There are not many people could have experienced what he did in his short lifetime. He met many people and travelled to many places and his life was full of music. Perfect! However you have to ask yourself what made him take his obsession with playing the guitar and touring so far. Was he trying to escape from some kind of underlying sadness in his life. Why couldn't he recognise what the alcohol and medication were doing to his body earlier? That is the tragedy of the whole thing. This gifted man still had so much to offer and that makes me very sad.




I am sure he did know that his meds (and to a degree the beer etc) were combining to make him less healthy than he had been. This probably added to his problems with travel and confidence. This seemed to combine into a downward spiral - but that is all well known and a matter of record, albeit the exaxt details are unclear. Martin Carthy talks about Rory worrying about audiences, despite the fact he always pulled big crowds.

I am sure that Rory knew he was no longer the vital, vibrant 30 yr old who tore up stages in the mid 70's. That said - although his health went downhill quickly, I have always thought that the jibes about his appearance from the late 80's - early 90's were unfair - he was heading to 50, and had been a very slim, vibrant 20 & 30 something... yes he aged, but don't we all??

The few exceptions from the rock world who retain teenage figures are rare and not typical of people in general. North of 40, we all tend to change - 'built for comfort, not for speed' as the song goes.

His early death was tragic, but aside from one or two ill-advised gigs that he should not have done, his entire career was vibrant. We all have days when we should have statyed at home, and went to work under the weather - rory did this in a public arena, because his work was on stage. But he could still sing & play better than most, even when his health had declined. the Celtic festival gig in france is very different to his Montruex gigs ... and he seems to be struggling against illness... but he sings and plays better than most - just not quite at his own, personal peak.

Every single LP he made, inc the Taste stuff, and probably 99% of his gigs would have been a career best for most artists. Right up to the end, he was on the top of his game - Fresh Evidence would be the central, reference work for most other artists - the go to album as an introduction. It is better than 95% of the blues/rock/roots albums I have heard - and ive heard a lot. That is a staggering achievement.

Ideally it would have carried on - but maybe world class for 30 years was his destiny - rather than mediocre for 50.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby ailish78 » 14 Mar 2016, 10:13

'.....but maybe world class for 30 years was his destiny - rather than mediocre for 50.'

I like this folkfeejay. You said it all in your last post. Well done! :)
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby RobertaSparrow » 14 Mar 2016, 11:33

folkdeejay wrote: . .
I am sure that Rory knew he was no longer the vital, vibrant 30 yr old who tore up stages in the mid 70's. That said - although his health went downhill quickly, I have always thought that the jibes about his appearance from the late 80's - early 90's were unfair - he was heading to 50, and had been a very slim, vibrant 20 & 30 something... yes he aged, but don't we all?? . . ..



That's true, but also factor in, Rory was a driven, hard working musician on the road, and he started doing that when he was still in school, I'm including his showband years, he started out young, playing guitar in the showbands, and he was what? Fifteen? Sixteen? School full time and then on the road with a showband? From their to Taste, and look how much he toured then? So start out at 15 years working the schedule of a full grown man and then some, on the road or playing almost every day until his fear of flying limited his time on the road.

Imagine how much that pace of work would wear on a person's health. After logging in so many heavy work hours, in a sense, over so many years, that had to make him feel older than his years also. That is a lot of miles on body and soul. But that is also a lot more living in that span of time than most of us will do if we live to be 100.
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Re: Rory Gallagher: A Tragic Figure Or Myth?

Postby Shin Kicker » 21 Mar 2016, 13:40

I don't know about the word "sad", but there was undeniably a tragic element to Rory's life. The thing we have to come to terms with however is: there was probably a link between that tragedy and the beauty of his music. I think I read somewhere that someone described him as "being Rory Gallagher for one hour on stage each day, then waiting the other 23 hours to become Rory Gallagher again." Yes, he suffered, but that suffering was manifested in his music, sometimes transcendently so. To call that "sad" would be to deny the beauty of his music.
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