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Rory loved cork and we loved him right back

Wednesday, 17th June, 2015 6:21pm

I was introduced to Rory by my Dad. He would hop around the sitting room, air-guitaring his heart out, while singing gleefully off-key.

This is saying a lot from a Dub and an obvious Phil Lynott devotee. But Rory was the man, and any decent rendition of Mr Gallagher got him onto his feet, the inner blues rippling just under the surface.

Rory Gallagher was self-taught musical prodigy. Full stop. Also mastering the mandolin and the saxophone, his unnerving well of talent surfaced particularly in his guitar grinding and song writing talents.

Not a fan of the fame game, he shunned his celebrity status and turned down offers to replace Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones. His contributions to the blues genre directly influenced the music giants we have looming in our music charts and headlining festivals all across the globe.

Clapton has openly credited Gallagher for his return to the blues scene and Slash, being directly influenced by Rory, spent a night jamming with him.

Last week, we paid homage to Rory Gallagher and the remembrance floodgates opened, with tributes pouring in from all over Cork city commemorating the 20th anniversary of his passing on 14 June 1995, at the premature age of 47.

The testimony of this unwavering loyalty from his beloved fans was touching to watch. From 1.10pm last Friday, Cork's RedFM, 96fm, C103 Cork and UCC 98.3 FM simultaneously played Gallagher's 'Tattoo'd Lady' while the Shandon bells rocked out a few notes from the song and tribute act, Rory Gallagher Plaza performed on Paul Street.

Cork poet, Louis de Paor, a longtime Gallagher fan, wrote 'A Poem for Rory Gallagher', but wasn't able to read it on the day. Instead, Gerry Murphy, a fellow Cork poet, read it in Louis' place, as part of the collaborative tribute event. "I can think of no other musician or artist who gave as much of himself to his audience," said de Paor. "The poem wonders whether he fully realised how much that meant to those of us who were at the receiving end of his reckless generosity."

Cork City FC also took to the field against Bray Wanderers in Turners Cross to a song from Rory Gallagher instead of their usual tune, 'After All' by the Frank and Walters. 'Cork Rocks for Rory' was held at Cyprus Avenue over the weekend of the 5-6 June, remembering Gallagher's legacy on stage, where he ruled.

Camden Palace Hotel Community Arts Centre and Camden Quay also paid tribute to Gallagher with the inauguration of recording and music rehearsal studios for local young musicians to use daily. Donal Gallagher, Rory's brother, opened the space and the facility, named after Rory, has unseen photographs and memorabilia from the official archive, as a source of inspiration to fellow Cork musicians.

"Rory is synonymous with Cork. His loss at such a young age was a loss to music, a multitude of fans worldwide, to Cork itself, but most of all to his beloved family," said former Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Shields.

"We remember his passing with great sadness, but celebrate his outstanding legacy with enormous pride. We have always been and always will continue, to be proud to call him a Corkonian."

This grand show of affection towards Rory only scratches the surface of how much Gallagher had influenced a nation, a music movement and people, both young and old. It doesn't seem like 20 years since Rory Gallagher passed away. His music is still vibrant and fresh today. He continues to have a huge following throughout the world, with tribute festivals and concerts being performed annually.  

It was with this in mind that Liz Lucas first came up with the idea of a play, which looked at the great blues artist with a fresh eye.

English playwright, musician and actor Liz Lucas' work 'The G-Man and Me' will receive its Irish premiere to mark the anniversary of his death, on 22-23 June at Cork Arts Theatre.

Liz explains: "I wanted to discover why it was that I kept coming back to Rory's music over and over again and explore just why I had always found his performances so dynamic and exciting. The first time I ever saw him play was quite momentous for me. There were many things I found compelling about that first gig and it spoke to me in so many different ways."

Performed over two nights, 'The G-man and Me' is a loosely autobiographical piece charting the life of an everyday fan. Reflecting on the tremendous legacy he left behind, it takes a sideways look at how the people's guitarist influenced almost a lifetime of watching him perform and how his shows and music affected the life of an ordinary fan, who never collected autographs.  

The play will focus on how Rory Gallagher's performances, always dynamic - often quite wild - affected Lucas and how she took the things  she saw at those gigs and applied them to her own performances.  

Not only is this a warm and heartfelt tribute to Rory Gallagher, but also an exploration of how one performer can influence another on all kinds of levels. Funny, honest and moving, 'The G-Man And Me' takes a musical journey through life and celebrates the bluesman's unique take on the music genre, leaving a legacy that lives on to thrill new audiences and teach upcoming young players the true meaning of musicianship.

All we ask you to do is #RememberRory

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