Robert William GARY MOORE
April 4th, 1952 - February 6th, 2011
© GaryMoore.comAcknowledged as one of the finest musicians that the British Isles has ever produced, and with a career that dated back to the 1960s, there were few musical genres that Gary Moore had not turned his adroit musical hand to.
Gracing the line-ups of several notable rock bands, Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II and (The Original) Skid Row, in his time, he also established himself as a world-class guitarist, with few equals. Gary was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on April 4th 1952. Like many others, he was turned on to rock and roll first through hearing Elvis Presley, and then via The Beatles. Seeing the likes of Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in his hometown in the mid-60s opened up to him the rich world of The Blues. Hearing the art of the blues guitar performed by such lauded exponents as Peter Green fired Moore's nascent talent, and it wasn't long before he was being hailed as a teen musical prodigy. Indeed, it was Green himself who helped foster Moore's career, a debt that was repaid handsomely when Gary cut his warm and heartfelt tribute to his mentor, the 'Blues For Greeny' album, released in 1995.
Gary's first band of note, the power trio Skid Row, secured a record deal with the CBS label in 1970. By this time, Gary had moved to Dublin, and befriended a certain Philip Lynott, who filled the vocal role with Skid Row until shortly before the CBS deal was signed. Gary cut three albums with the band, and toured the USA supporting The Allman Brothers Band, and Mountain amongst others, before he left Skid Row to embark on a solo career. This proved short-lived, as Gary was soon to reunite with Phil Lynott as replacement for Eric Bell in the Thin Lizzy line-up. Although he was in the band for a relatively brief tenure, he would re-join their ranks following the departure of Brian Robertson in 1977, and again, finally as a full band member, for the 'Black Rose' album and tour in 1978.
In 1979, Gary's solo career began in earnest with the evocative hit single, 'Parisienne Walkways', which pitched Gary's tasteful, blues-soaked lead guitar with a moody Phil Lynott guest vocal. The single reached the UK Top Ten in April of that year, and the subsequent album, 'Back On The Streets' was similarly well received. The late 1970s and early 80s were characterised by Gary's restless search for the best musical settings for his talents; a reunion with Phil Lynott produced the powerful 'Out In The Fields' hit single (1985). He explored his Celtic roots on the album 'Wild Frontier' (1987), but it was with the 1990 album, 'Still Got The Blues', that Gary arrived at a rich musical vein within which his creativity could flow freely. This and its successor, 'After Hours' saw cameo appearances from the likes of such Blues guitar greats as Albert King, BB King, and Albert Collins, and it is a testament to Gary's own remarkable talents that he more than held his own amongst such august company. In 1994, Gary worked alongside Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce in the band BBM, cutting one accomplished album, before resuming his solo career. The, Back To The Blues' (2001) album saw him revisit the blues with renewed vigour and determination, after the more experimental 'Dark Days In Paradise' (1997) and 'A Different Beat' (1999) albums. A ten-track collection that mixed excellent Moore originals, with gritty and intense covers of standards. But, in the tradition of keeping his fans and critics guessing, 2002 saw Gary Moore crashing back onto the music scene with what had to be his heaviest collection of songs since the late 1980's, once again forcing people to reassess any opinions and preconceptions they might have had of him. That time round though, Moore had decided to share the limelight, joining forces with ex-Skunk Anansie bassist Cass Lewis and Primal Scream drummer Darrin Mooney to form 'Scars', a true power trio in every respect.
The 'Scars' album was completed in early 2002 and that line-up, then went on to record the 'Live at the Monsters of Rock' (2003) live CD and DVD, which featured the band's set as performed on two separate nights on the UK Tour in May 2003. That live set encompassed a diverse range of material, from across Gary's playing career. 2004, saw possibly the rawest album yet, with 'Power of the Blues'. The 10-track set, recorded mostly live in the studio, ranged from the hard rock/blues of the title track, via the upbeat swing of "Can't find my baby", to the haunting "Torn Inside". Taking time out in August 2005, for a brief reunion with former Thin Lizzy band members, for a one off concert in Dublin, to mark the occasion of Phil Lynott's birth. The evening was filmed for the 2006 DVD release, 'Gary Moore and Friends, One Night in Dublin, A Tribute to Phil Lynott'. With his 2007 studio album "Close As You Get", Gary continued in a direction not too dissimilar from "Old, New, Ballads, Blues", released in 2006. Mixing original tunes with some interesting blues covers that Gary had rediscovered, whilst researching for his award winning radio series, "Blues Power", for Planet Rock (UK based digital/internet radio station).
September 2008 saw the release of what would turn out to be Gary's last studio album, "Bad for you Baby". Again, a powerful collection of tracks, mixing original material and selected blues covers. After being on the road for most of 2008 and into 2010 with the "Blues" line up of the touring band. Gary returned from a tour of Russia and the Far East, and decided to reunite with his old sparring partner from the rock line up's of the 1980's, Neil Carter. The plan was to put together a "Rock" line up and dust off a selection of tracks from the mid to late 1980's. Adding Jon Noyce, (ex Jethro Tull/Sessions) on bass, some one who was also part of the, "One Night in Dublin" Tribute DVD in 2005, and Darrin Mooney (Primal Scream/Sessions) on drums, who was no stranger to the touring and recording line during the late 1990's and early 2000's. This line up, hit the road in May of 2010, performing a live set based around a selection of tracks from Gary's "Rock Years." of the 1980's. This proved to be a real treat for fans, old & new, as many would have not heard Gary play these songs live, either for a very long time, or in many cases, at all. In addition to the older tunes, a number of new "Celtic Rock" style tracks were included in the show, which went down very well with the live audiences. Tracks, which Gary was planning to record and embellish, on his next studio project. A project that was ready to start when Gary returned from a short holiday break. Unfortunately, that was not to be, as Gary passed away in his sleep in the early hours of February 6th, 2011, in Estepona, Spain.
After being such a "force of nature" in the guitar-playing firmament, for many years, as part of a professional career that began when he was only 16. He leaves behind a huge hole for many, not just his close family and friends, but guitar fans around the world. Of all the many tributes paid since Gary's passing, maybe this one, from Gary's friend and musical collaborator, Don Airey, might sum up the best of most people's thoughts of Gary: "At the 1984 Donington Festival during the long solo in "Empty Rooms" the previously restive crowd went so quiet, you could hear a pin drop - everyone back and behind stage stopped whatever they were doing and just stood to listen open-mouthed. His artistry touched thousands of people over the years, not least those of us lucky enough to have shared a stage or a recording studio with him. Sleep tight old mate, you'll be sorely missed."