Rory Gallagher, who sadly passed away in 1995, had a huge impact on the world of blues and rock and is recognized as Irelands first real ”rock star” - blazing the trail for many major Irish acts to follow on the international stage.
Apart from his reputation as one of the greatest ever exponents of the electric guitar, Rory left behind an enduring musical legacy which has received fresh recognition and attracted a whole new generation of younger fans over recent years. He was a prolific composer and in his lifetime recorded no fewer than fifteen albums of highly original and soulful blues and rock material.
On the first anniversary of Rory’s sad passing Barry Barnes promoted the first ever tribute concert to his lifelong hero, then in 2000 Barry went on to form ‘Sinnerboy’ with the sole intention of keeping Rory’s memory alive.
The Band comprises:
Barry Barnes (Guitar and vocals)
Dave Smylie (Bass)
Steve Richardson (Drums)
‘Sinnerboy’, from North West England, have a huge reputation for faithfully recapturing the sound and excitement of a live “Rory gig”. They have played a major role in promoting the revival of Rory’s music for the last thirteen years and apart from gigging extensively in the UK and Ireland, have headlined Rory Gallagher tribute events in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, Norway and the USA.
THURSDAY 15TH June 1995. I came downstairs, picked up my morning newspaper and shuffled into the kitchen to brew some tea, I was always an early riser then and so was my paper boy.
Page 31 of the Guardian held an article about the Americans changing the dollar bill for a coin, this triggered off me singing the line 'Gave my baby a brand new $20 bill' from 'Well My baby she Left Me' as I turned over to page 33 - Obituaries.
I stopped singing but kept the obituary.
I didn't even know Rory was Ill, I hadn't seen him since the last time he played Manchester, A terrible gig billed as a tribute to the Fender Stratocaster some two years earlier which had Rory waiting in the wings to go on all night while the audience sat through some 'iffy' gigs by others and even a video of Hank Marvin, the crowd was baying for Rory!
Actually he was looking much better than he was the last time I saw him, he looked slimmer and was dressed all in black with a smart leather jacket.
In those pre-Internet days I was one of an awful lot of people who thought that only they remembered or cared for him and I decided to arrange a tribute concert to him on the first anniversary of his death, 14th June 1996 and thanks to a leap year it was a Friday night.
I was always badgering the lads in my band Fat Cat Bobby to play Rory songs and we had lots in our set, interestingly we were playing songs from the most recent albums, Continental Op, Doing Time and others, not the old classics, I was really into what Rory was doing at the time.
I booked a famous old Manchester Cabaret pub 'The Pomona' and press ganged some local musician pals to come along and play some Rory tunes. I put £2 on the door, an announcement in the Manchester Evening News and hoped enough people would come so that I covered the expenses, but by 9.PM there were people looking and listening in through the windows as it was too packed for them to get inside. I went out to apologise to them but all they could do was thank me through their tears - they all thought they were the only ones that remembered too and were so happy to meet like-minded others - friendships were forged that day that have never wavered.
The next morning I was, I admit nursing a hangover when my late wife Denise dragged me out of bed to listen to an answer message on the telephone, it said "Hello my name is Donal Gallagher" Now any fan can get to talk to the affable Donal nowadays, a warm and generous man.
You can find him at most tributes holding court and never tiring of chatting to his brother's fans but back then - Rory's brother was on the phone!!! It was amazing, I nervously called him back when he thanked and congratulated me for my efforts. The part of the conversation I remember the most was after I'd finished telling him how successful the gig was and that we'd got over a hundred people there, I said how trivial that must seem to him after the 'Big Time' with his brother, Donal would have none of it insisting it was very touching and Rory would have loved it, It was the first time I'd heard that Rory used to say the best audiences were when he could 'See the whites of their eyes'
Over the next couple of years the gig landed in Dukinfield Town Hall, a grand Victorian building that had a huge concert hall which was crammed to the rafters with Roryfans every June, they came from Britain, Ireland, all over Europe, USA, Canada, even the South Pacific! Paul Westwell made a 12 foot Rory Strat out of plywood that weighed a tonne , I wonder if it still exists somewhere?
Slowly as the various countries joined in and produced their own tributes the crowds fell again but the international feel of the gig can still be seen to this day, we still get plenty of overseas visitors so be prepared to bump into Roryfans with accents of Dutch, German, Norwegian and many more.
Eighteen years on the gig now has its home in The world famous Cavern Club in Liverpool where old friends meet, Rory stories exchanged and tribute bands sweat on the stage. There is nowhere in the world where can be found greater love for one man - Rory Gallagher