Gary Moore, a legendary guitarist, was known for his uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time. His music was a testament to this talent, as he managed to capture the essence of the moment in the notes he played. Moore was born in East Belfast, Ireland, in the year 1952, and grew up in the vicinity of the Maritime Club, a local venue that played a significant role in shaping his musical career. The Maritime Club was a hub for young musicians and established acts alike. As a teenager, Moore was a regular at the club, where he honed his skills as a guitarist and learned from other musicians. Here, he was first introduced to the blues, a genre that would influence much of his later work. The Maritime Club was the perfect training ground for Gary Moore, and it played a pivotal role in his journey to becoming one of the greatest guitarists of all time.
At the young age of 13, Gary had the opportunity to meet and jam with Rory Gallagher, a more experienced musician in the music community. During their time together, Gary quickly picked up new skills that would ultimately lead to his name spreading rapidly throughout the music scene. It wasn’t long before he had the chance to showcase his talents at a show in Dublin, which caught the attention of “Skid Row,” a band with a talented vocalist named Phil Lynott and a skilled bassist, Brush Shiels.
Gary was offered the chance to join a band, but he initially declined because he was only interested in the Blues. However, after a brief period, he reconsidered and eventually accepted the offer when he was 16 years old. This decision began an intense dynamic between him and Phil, which would later lead to bigger things. When Lynott left to form his band called “Thin Lizzy,” Gary remained behind, and Skid Row continued as a power trio playing Blues and Soul music. Brush, who was a member of the band, took over vocals in addition to playing bass. Although Skid Row had started as a traditional Blues and Soul band, they soon evolved into a more unique and almost avant-garde approach. Their new style was different from their previous music and set them apart from other bands. The band’s transformation was gradual, but it was noticeable as they incorporated new elements and experimented with different sounds.
Skid Row (feat. Gary Moore) – Unco Up Showband Blues (1971)
One night, as the band finished playing a gig and was preparing for a second show elsewhere, Gary met Peter Green, who complimented his playing. Peter, the renowned musician, invited the band to his hotel later that night. As a result, Fleetwood Mac’s Manager got Skid Row a record deal. Over time, Gary played many different guitars, including a Fender Telecaster, one of only three imported the year he turned 14. After the first record was finished and they went on tour, he acquired a 1952 Les Paul that had been modified into a red sunburst, though it was originally a gold top.
This guitar has an interesting history – it was previously owned by a gentleman named Robin Trower, but unfortunately, it was stolen back in 1970. As a result, it had to be replaced by a Gibson SG model, which quickly became a popular choice among musicians. Despite its popularity, the SG had a controversial relationship with its namesake, Les Paul. Les disliked the model so much that he demanded his name be removed from it. Despite Les’ disapproval, the SG remains a beloved instrument, known for its distinctive sound and unique design.
Each of these guitars had an intriguing history behind them, full of stories and experiences. However, the Ultimate Guitar was not yet in the picture at this point. In 1972, he unexpectedly ran into Peter Green, and to his surprise, Green offered him his guitar, asking “Would you like to borrow my guitar?” and then soon after, “Would you like to buy the guitar?” He expressed his inability to afford the guitar, so Green advised him to sell his SG and give him the money from the sale. Eventually, Green allowed him to purchase it for the same price that he had paid himself, which was approximately 110 to 120 pounds which is almost £1600 in today’s British Pound Value according to inflationtool.com
Gary owned a Gibson Les Paul guitar called “Greeney,” which was highly valued. After his band, Skid Row disbanded, Gary continued to make music under his name. In 1974, Phil Lynott asked Gary to join Thin Lizzy during a tour. Gary immediately joined the band without rehearsals and played as if he had always been a member. This boosted his profile, but his time with Thin Lizzy was brief. Gary continued to write, record, and perform music throughout his life, whether he was in a band or not.
Gary made significant contributions to the album “Nightlife”. After some solo work, he was brought back to Thin Lizzy to work with guitarist Scott Gorham on twin guitars. However, his heart remained in his solo work and he wasn’t interested in the hard-partying lifestyle of Thin Lizzy, so he left again. In 1979, he was called back and given more creative input on Thin Lizzy’s “Black Rose” album. However, in the middle of the U.S. tour supporting the album, he abruptly left due to his frustration with the drugs and alcohol that had affected the band’s performance potential, sometimes causing them to be out of tune and careless.
THIN LIZZY [ COWBOY SONG ] LIVE 1978 SYDNEY
Gary Moore’s departure from Thin Lizzy led him back to his roots in the Blues genre where he achieved unprecedented success with his album “Still Got The Blues”. This album marked the pinnacle of his career and featured a legendary collaboration with Albert King. However, his success was plagued by legal troubles as he was hit with not one, but two separate lawsuits from different songwriters claiming that he had used their melodies in the song. Additionally, Gary had to cancel a tour due to an injury and was struggling to finance his tour, putting additional strain on his already demanding schedule. Despite these challenges, Gary Moore’s unwavering passion for music continued to drive him forward.
Moore had to go through a difficult situation when he had to sell his famous guitar, “Greeney”. The sale involved several lawsuits and was sold for a price estimated to be between $750,000 and over a million dollars. Although there is no consensus on the exact amount, it is agreed that the guitar is now owned by Kirk Hammett of the famous band, Metallica. Gary Moore’s talent was not limited to guitar playing only; he was also an exceptional vocalist. He released 18 studio albums, 9 live albums, and 12 compilations, making him one of the most prolific musicians of his time. Gary was a Blues artist, and his music reflected his life experiences. He lived through the Blues, and his music was a testament to that.
Gary Moore was a musician who made an immense contribution to the music industry. He was highly regarded for his work ethic. Unfortunately, he passed away unexpectedly while on holiday in Spain on February 11, 2011. His influence is still palpable today, and his loss is deeply felt by many.