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Gary Moore

+ {The Gary Moore Band} + {G-Force} + {BBM}

A brilliant blues guitarist/singer from Northern Ireland with a CV to make most axemen envious, the dextrous GARY MOORE duly passed through the ranks of SKID ROW, his own named band, THIN LIZZY (thrice!), COLOSSEUM II, G-FORCE, The GREG LAKE Band, BBM (alongside JACK BRUCE and GINGER BAKER), and his memorable stroll through `Parisienne Walkways’ and `Out In The Fields’ with “Black Rose” buddy and rock legend PHIL LYNOTT.
Born Robert William Gary Moore, 4 April 1952 in Belfast, Gary grew up under the shadow of Stormont Parliament Buildings over in Castleview Road, but left with guitar in hand for Dublin when “the troubles” kicked off in the late 60s. Despite being left-handed, the young guitarist adapted to the “normal” right-handed approach; slightly more impressed by PETER GREEN (of early FLEETWOOD MAC) than of another of his idols, JIMI HENDRIX.
At the turn of the decade, as a member of SKID ROW, Gary guested for Irish psychedelic outfit GRANNY’S INTENTIONS, on their 1970 LP, `Honest Injun’. Another integral guest was drummer Noel Bridgeman, who had formed SKID ROW with bassist Brendan “Brush” Shiels, in 1967; a 16-year-old Gary Moore joined in summer ’68; PHIL LYNOTT had also been a brief member in its earliest incarnation. Relocating to London, in 1970, the band signed to C.B.S. Records, releasing two albums of prog-blues/rock, `Skid’ (1970) – which hit No.30 in the charts – and `34 Hours’ (1971), before the guitar ace left to form his own outfit; during this period he’d also undertaken some live cover work with DR. STRANGELY STRANGE, as well as guesting on their 1970 album, `Heavy Petting’.
With a line-up of Liverpool-born keyboardist Jan Schelhaas (ex-National Head Band), bassist John Curtis, drummer Pearse Kelly and session man Philip Donnelly on guitar, The GARY MOORE BAND cut one album in 1973: GRINDING STONE {*5}. Featuring half a dozen self-penned tracks, including the opening 9-minute title track and a doubly-long excursion `Spirit’ (a CAMEL-meets-SANTANA-like opus), the G-Force was up and running. Sadly, the combo never actually got around to making a follow-up, as GM joined THIN LIZZY for three months as a replacement for the departing Eric Bell.
Gary was eventually succeeded by twin-pack Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson; the guitarist joining Jon Hiseman’s COLOSSEUM II, for whom he recorded three jazz-fusion sets: `Strange New Flesh’ (1976), `Electric Savage’ (1977) and `War Dance’ (1977). In addition to his rapidly improving guitar playing, Gary sang lead vocals on a handful of tracks; the material on show significantly heavier than the band’s earlier incarnation as a progressive-jazz outfit. Leaving COLOSSEUM II in 1977, Gary filled in for an injured Brian Robertson on THIN LIZZY’s American tour, eventually going full-time with the band in the summer of ‘78.
At the same time, MOORE resumed his solo career with the help of CII friends Don Airey (keyboards) and John Mole (bass), and drummer Simon Philips (ex-801); guests comprised THIN LIZZY’s Phil Lynott and relief sticksman Brian Downey. Together they recorded an album, BACK ON THE STREETS (1978) {*6}, and three singles, one of which was the classic `Parisienne Walkways’. Featuring co-composer LYNOTT on vocals, the track was an epic piece of emotive axe work; MOORE’s undulating soloing among the best licks of his career. A Top 10 hit upon its original release the following spring, the track remains the guitarist’s most played and most purchased record, whilst aside from three instrumentals (`Flight Of The Snow Moose’, `Hurricane’ and `What Would You Rather Bee Or A Wasp’), was the opening title and a slow-time re-vamp of Lynott/Lizzy’s `Don’t Believe A Word’.
Although Gazza remained a member of THIN LIZZY long enough to feature on their seminal Top 3 album, `Black Rose (A Rock Legend)’ in ‘79, he left the band midway through an American tour, eventually setting up his own L.A.-based outfit, G-FORCE, in 1980; alongside co-vocalist Willie Dee, bassist Tony Newton and seasoned drummer Mark Nauseef. After a solitary eponymous G-FORCE {*5} album the same year (featuring the harder-edged `White Knuckles’ – `Rockin’ & Rollin’ and `She’s Got You’), the pop-rock group came to nothing; with the main man joining the GREG LAKE BAND for a couple of years.
GM also worked on a solo career, recruiting singer Charlie Huhn (ex-TED NUGENT), keyboardist Tommy Eyre (of The GREG LAKE BAND), bassist Jimmy Bain (ex-RAINBOW, ex-WILD HORSES) and drummer Ian Paice (ex-WHITESNAKE, ex-DEEP PURPLE). Their first album as a unit (Bain moving aside for WHITESNAKE’s Neil Murray, and without Huhn), CORRIDORS OF POWER (1982) {*7}, reached the Top 30 for Virgin Records, although it failed to spawn any hit singles from power-ballads `Always Gonna Love You’ and `Falling In Love With You’; one of the other main attractions was their B-side cover of FREE’s `Wishing Well’.
For 1984’s VICTIMS OF THE FUTURE {*7}, MOORE recruited a whole new band again, numbering keyboard player Neil Carter (ex-UFO, ex-WILD HORSES), additional drummer (to Paice) Bobby Chouinard, and bassist Craig Gruber (ex-BILLY SQUIER), although Murray appeared on the album itself. The set almost struck the Top 10, while the melancholy ballad-ish `Empty Rooms’ was a modest hit single; side two of the US version found SLADE’s Noddy Holder singing back-up on their version of the YARDBIRDS’ `Shapes Of Things’.
On solidifying his (and the band’s) concert prowess with WE WANT MOORE! (1984) {*7}, further personnel switches came by way of the outward-bound Gruber (replaced briefly by Bob Daisley and then more permanently by GLENN HUGHES), while Paul Thompson (ex-ROXY MUSIC), and a few session people took over on drums for his next album. GARY MOORE once again hooked up with LYNOTT for the blistering `Out In The Fields’, a No.5 hit in spring ‘85. Later that summer, a re-issued/re-vamped `Empty Rooms’ went to No.23, while parent album, RUN FOR COVER {*7} once again, almost reached the Top 10. Sadly, Phil was to die the following January; the shock leaving Gary a year to contemplate his next positive move.
Dedicating his 1987 set to LYNOTT, at last MOORE seemed to be on a bit of a roll, hooking up with Irish folk legends The CHIEFTAINS for `Over The Hills And Far Away’, another Top 20 hit. The opening salvo on WILD FRONTIER {*6}, the album saw Gary looking back to his roots for inspiration; the cover art depicting a bleak Celtic landscape, while only Carter and Daisley were bona fide core members of his inner crew, as a drum machine was in operation. Along with hard-rock renditions of The EASYBEATS’ `Friday On My Mind’ and Max Middleton’s `The Loner’; COZY POWELL had covered this moody instrumental, on the title track MOORE tackled the equally bleak Irish political landscape, his wailing riffs echoing his feelings of frustration.
With the aforementioned Cozy now featured on drums, the Top 30 set AFTER THE WAR (1989) {*6} continued in a similar hard-rock vein (examples `Speak For Yourself’ and `Running From The Storm’), while the 8-minute part-autobiographical `Blood Of Emeralds’ attributed friend LYNOTT fully. Roping in star attraction OZZY OSBOURNE on the Zeppelin-esque `Led Clones’, a pointer to the blues motif Gary would duly take on, was in his masterful re-tread of ROY BUCHANAN’s `The Messiah Will Come Again’.
Throughout the 90s, his harder-edged rock took a back seat for more electric blues-orientated material; MOORE releasing the acclaimed STILL GOT THE BLUES {*8} in March 1990, his one and only step into the US Top 100. His band were now Don Airey (keyboards), Bob Daisley and Andy Pyle (bass), Nicky Hopkins and Mick Weaver (piano), Graham Walker and Brian Downey (drums), plus Frank Mead and Nick Payn (sax), while legendary guest guitarists turned up on re-vamps of A.C. Williams’ `Oh Pretty Woman’ (ALBERT KING) and JOHNNY “GUITAR” WATSON’s `Too Tired’ (ALBERT COLLINS); other covers featured were JIMMY ROGERS’ `Walking By Myself’, Deadric Malone’s `As The Years Go Passing By’, GEORGE HARRISON’s `That Kind Of Woman’, OTIS RUSH’s `All Your Love’ and PETER GREEN’s `Stop Messin’ Around’.
From UK Top 20 artist to Top 5 in the space of a few years, AFTER HOURS (1992) {*7} was another mixture of original and blues masters compositions. While his own pieces `Cold Day In Hell’, `Story Of The Blues’ and `Separate Ways’, all spent time in the charts (not forgetting his B.B. KING duet of IVORY JOE HUNTER’s `Since I Met You Baby’), MOORE could cool the temperature down a few degrees with HUDSON WHITTAKER’s `Don’t You Lie To Me (I Get Evil)’, JOHN MAYALL’s `Key To Love’, DUSTER BENNETT’s `Jumpin’ At Shadows’ and `MILTON CAMPBELL’s `The Blues Is Alright’.
Comprising usual suspects Eyre, Pyle, Walker, Mead, Payn and a few other musicians, the Top 10 BLUES ALIVE (1993) {*7} collated, in concert, several of his most recent numbers, alongside exclusive readings of ELMORE JAMES’ `The Sky Is Crying’, Joe Medwick & JOHNNY COPELAND’s `Farther Up The Road’ and the perennial `Parisienne Walkways’ (a near Top 30 re-entry).
Fans of power-trio CREAM waiting for the second coming were stunned, yet grateful, that the bickering BRUCE and BAKER had found a new ally in MOORE. As BBM (Gary and Jack collaborating on the bulk of the fresh material; Ginger with wings on the sleeve-shot!), all parties concerned must’ve been elated to have a Top 10 album with AROUND THE NEXT DREAM (1994) {*6}. Coinciding with an all-too-brief British tour and a peppering of festivals on the continent, fans would argue over the merits of `Where In The World’ (a minor hit) and `Waiting In The Wings’, next to covers of `High Cost Of Loving’ and ALBERT KING’s `I Wonder Why (Are You So Mean To Me?)’, or, for that matter 60s CREAM.
Back on his path toward his first love, 1995’s BLUES FOR GREENY {*7} – a tribute to his hero PETER GREEN – gave MOORE his final major chart appearance at No.14. The ‘Mac master had fallen away in comparison over the prevailing years, so in this money-spinner for the man he was able to subsequently “Splinter” on his own accord. If younger fans had lost their way of late, Gary garnered a greener than GREEN sheen to the likes of `I Loved Another Woman’, `Driftin’, `Love That Burns’, LITTLE WILLIE JOHN’s `Need Your Love So Bad’, etc., etc.
MOORE’s swansong Virgin Records release, DARK DAYS IN PARADISE (1997) {*6}, followed an electronic, contemporary blues direction, although this time around – with backing comprising Gary Husband (drums), Guy Pratt (bass) and Magnus Fiennes and Phil Nicholas (keyboards) – the guitarist had failed to break the Top 40. To his credit, Gary was trying something fresh, but the WELLER or BEATLES-esque cuts such as `I Have Found My Love In You’, `One Good Reason’, `Always There For You’ and `One Fine Day’, didn’t cut the mustard with many of his flagging fanbase.
In autumn 1999, MOORE was back in circulation for Raw Power Records and a new album, A DIFFERENT BEAT {*5}. At a crossroads in a career that had spanned more than 30 years, for the first time since the 70s the guitarist was struggling both critically and commercially. But for a rousing rendition of JIMI HENDRIX’s `Fire’, Gary’s virtuoso fretwork was swamped by techno tracks like `Fat Boy’ (FATBOY SLIM) and the chill-factored `Surrender’.
2001’s BACK TO THE BLUES {*5} – for Sanctuary Records – reunited him with the Top 60 (however brief), but the once enterprising array of self-penned cuts and cover versions were old-hat to post-millennium punters. Displaying a rootsy R&B motif on some dated versions of B.B. KING’s `You Upset Me Baby’, JOHNNY “GUITAR” WATSON’s `Looking Back’, T-BONE WALKER’s `Stormy Monday’ and CALVIN CARTER’s `I Ain’t Got You’, the seasoned axeman produced a satisfying experience, if not a great one.
It was back to basics for MOORE on 2002’s, Chris Tsangarides-produced SCARS {*6}, a refreshing sideways glance to his heavy-rock roots after one too many albums of straight-up blues. His sense of feel for that genre was still there of course, although it was leavened with an almost tangible sense of relief as if he’d been itching/champing at the bit to let loose with some electrifying power chords. SCARS, was indeed, the name of his band, with PRIMAL SCREAM sticksman Darrin Mooney and ex-SKUNK ANANSIE bassist/backing vocalist Cass Lewis, whom both augmented the CREAM/HENDRIX-esque songs such as `Where The Sun Goes Down’, `Rectify’, `Stand Up’ and `Ball And Chain’.
With the same line-up, the veteran axemeister revisited his past more explicitly on 2003’s LIVE AT MONSTERS OF ROCK {*7}, turning in emotional versions of `Don’t Believe A Word’ and the evergreen MOORE/LYNOTT collaborative classic `Parisienne Walkways’, as well as sterling covers of `Wishing Well’ and `Shapes Of Things’.
Swapping Lewis for the returning Daisley (and with Jim Watson on keyboards), GARY MOORE stuck to his guns on POWER OF THE BLUES (2004) {*6}. Highlighting a triumvirate of covers a la `I Can’t Quit You Baby’, `Evil’ and `Memory Pain’ (made famous by OTIS RUSH, HOWLIN’ WOLF – via WILLIE DIXON – and PERCY MAYFIELD, respectively), one couldn’t fault the determination of MOORE to keep fans in touch with the roots of the genre; example `That’s Why I Play The Blues’ and the Lizzy-esque title track.
Stepping back in time again for OLD NEW BALLADS BLUES (2006) {*6}, MOORE was still churning out moody, bitter-sweet blues for his loyal supporters. Next to cathartic covers of ELMORE JAMES’ `Does Somebody Wrong’, WILLIE DIXON’s `You Know My Love’ and OTIS RUSH’s `All Your Love’ (Jerry Beech’s `I’ll Play The Blues For You’ concluded the set), there was merit in `Gonna Rain Today’, the 9-minute `No Reason To Cry’ and a reprise of 1990’s `Midnight Blues’.
Roping in Brian Downey (drums), Pete Rees (bass) and Vic Martin (keyboards) – not forgetting NINE BELOW ZERO’s Mark Feltham on guest harmonica – MOORE stayed religiously true to his blues path on 2007’s CLOSE AS YOU GET {*6}. Featuring songs once the domain of CHUCK BERRY (`Thirty Days’), JOHN MAYALL (`Have You Heard?’), SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON (`Eyesight To The Blind’ and `Checkin’ Up On My Baby’), SON HOUSE (`Sundown’) and JIMMY WITHERSPOON (`Evenin’), who could blame Gary for straying little from the Devil’s best tunes.
Sam Kelly in for Downey, BAD FOR YOU BABY (2008) {*7} kept up MOORE’s momentum, although with no sustained chart challenge from the 56 year-old, fans had to keep one eye and an ear open for opportunities to hear their hero. Clocking in at 10 glorious minutes was his take of AL KOOPER’s mood-enhancing `I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’. Deserved of some fame and fortune for his single-minded displays of guitar virtuoso (from the title track to bookender `Trouble Ain’t Far Behind’), there was of course his essential covers; this time through J.B. LENOIR’s `Mojo Boogie’ and MUDDY WATERS’ `Walkin’ Thru The Park’ and `Someday Baby’.
Although Gary had put on a bit of weight in his capacity to enthral fans of his guitar licks, many in the business were shocked that he died of a heart attack (on holiday in Estepona, Spain), on 6th February 2011; a testament to his recent outings was his posthumously-released CD/DVD package, LIVE AT MONTREUX (2011) {*6}, recorded the previous year with some of his best tracks, mainly from his “Wild Frontiers” days.
© MC Strong 1994-2004/GRD // rev-up MCS Feb2016

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