Gary Moore  

 

 

GARY MOORE - GUITAR 1974, 1977 & 1978-79

If you really are into heartfelt bluesy and melodic guitar playing, you are probably already a fan of Gary Moore. He has a unique "voice" in his guitar playing concentrating on feel rather than modern guitar hero pyrotechnics. He has had a long career starting out in the 60s and still being an active recording artist that has spawned quite an impressive amount of releases both as a solo artist, as a member of bands, Thin Lizzy being the most well known, as well as a session musician. He is also a master of many different musical styles ranging from hard rock, blues, jazz/rock and acoustic pieces. He has had quite a few hits, like "Parisienne Walkways" in the 70s, "Out In The Fields" and "Over The Hills And Far Away" in the 80s and "Still Got The Blues" in the 90s. This has made him a household name in many parts of the world, especially in Europe and Japan. Today he mostly plays blues, the music he started out playing when he was only a kid back in his native Northern Ireland.

THE BEGINNING
Robert William Gary Moore was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 4th 1952. His father, Robert Moore, was in the music business as a promoter and arranged shows where the typical Irish showbands came to play. It was at one of his father's places that the young Gary, only 6 years old, first climbed the stage as well. His father got him a cheap electric guitar that he started out exploring. Worth noting is that the guitar he got was the regular guitar for a right-handed person while Moore is left-handed. He even made some solo appearances at his father's place billed as "Little Gary". With his dedication he soon mastered the guitar. After going through some bands with other young boys of Belfast Moore became known as something of a up and coming hot shot guitarist. Some of the bands he went through when he started out were The Beat Boys, Platform Three, Dave and the Diamonds and The Substitutes.

 

SKID ROW DAYS

At the age of 16 his reputation came to the attention of Brendan Brush Shiels the leader of the Dublin band Skid Row, and not long after Moore had moved to Dublin and joined the band. Skid Row was a very eclectic band playing a mixture of hippie folk music, jazz, blues and rock. It was in Skid Row that Moore first crossed paths with Philip Lynott. Lynott was then just a shy young guy with dreams of becoming a star while handling the vocals in Skid Row. Shields fired Lynott during a period when he had vocal problems which was due to a throat inflammation, and eventually led to him having his tonsils out but he was out of Skid Row nevertheless.

 

He picked up playing bass and even took some lessons from Shiels. Lynott took off and would later form Thin Lizzy, a band that would have a lot to do with Moore throughout the 70s.

During these early days in Dublin Moore also guested all different kinds of bands and even made it on to recordings with bands like Dr Strangely Strange and Granny's Intentions. Moore made a couple albums with Skid Row, and they toured frequently and sometimes as opening act for early 70s hot shots Slade. Skid Row also opened for Fleetwood Mac on some occasion then with the highly influential guitarist Peter Green who took a liking to Moore's talents as a guitarist and helped the band as much as he could. This was also when the famous events happened where Moore bought Green's Gibson Les Paul that has helped Moore create some of his greatest hits.

THE EARLY 70S
In 1973 Moore formed his own band a released an album on CBS as Gary Moore Band titled "Grinding Stone". The album failed to capture the greatness of Moore even though his fast and bluesy guitar playing sure was a cut above the rest.

 

Lynott and his boys in Thin Lizzy had also released some albums at this time and even scored a surprise hit with a rocked up remake of the Irish traditional "Whisky in The Jar". However, on new years eve 1973 Eric Bell, Thin Lizzy's original guitarist, had a wee bit too much to drink during a performance in his native Belfast and his frustrations with the bands direction finally took its toll and he threw the guitar down on the stage floor and walked out halfway through the set, never to come back again. So without a guitarist Lynott called upon the services of Moore, his pal form the early days of Skid Row, to join Thin Lizzy.

 

As it turned out Moore would only stay in the bands a few months during the first half of 1974. Some of the material they wrote during this period made its way on to plastic though, like the single "Little Darling" as well as the future Thin Lizzy live classic "Still In Love With You" which made it onto Thin Lizzy's 1974 LP "Nightlife".

THE LATE 70S
Instead Moore joined progressive rock drummer Jon Hiseman's Colosseum II. They played a kind of music that was a fusion between rock and jazz. Other musicians that Moore played with in the band through 1975-1978 were keyboard player Don Airey and bass player Neil Murray, both whom would play in Moore's solo bands later on.

After Moore left Thin Lizzy in 1974 the band had tried some replacements and finally ended up with two guitarists, American Scott Gorham and Scotsman Brian Robertson. In 1977 the latter managed to hurt his hand at a bar brawl just days before the band was to take off to the US for an important tour making him unable to play. Again, Lynott called upon the services of his old pal Moore. Colosseum II released a couple of albums but never really took off commercially and while Moore was paying his dues there Lynott and Thin Lizzy scored massive hits with albums such as "Jailbreak" and "Johnny The Fox". So it might have been an easy choice for Moore to take a break from Colosseum II and rejoin Thin Lizzy for a very successful US tour

with Thin Lizzy supporting Queen.

 

 

However, Moore never joined the band permanently, and when the tour was over he got back to Colosseum II. The problems with Robertson in Thin Lizzy prevailed and even though they released the massively successful live album "Live and Dangerous" Robertson was in and out of the band. They recorded Bad Reputation mostly as a trio and just called in Robertson to lay down some solos after the recordings were made.

 

During 1978 the band finally parted ways with Robertson leaving the band with only one guitarist. Thin Lizzy had at this time made the twin guitar sound their trademark and they certainly needed to find a replacement for Robertson, and once again Moore was brought back into the fold. It was his third stint with the band and now as a permanent member. Moore ensured that the favour was returned by getting the Thin Lizzy guys to appear on his 1978 solo album "Back On The Streets" and scored a hit with "Parisienne Walkways" with Phil Lynott on vocals. Thin Lizzy recorded the hard-hitting "Black Rose" with lots of hints of their Irish legacy and scored a hit with "Waiting For An Alibi".

 

During the recording sessions in Paris Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham started dabbling with the heavy drugs and the state of the band was a bit chaotic and eventually Moore had enough and went missing while the band was on the road in the US. This of course left the band in a difficult position. They flew in Midge Ure to replace Moore and later that year for some dates in Japan Ure shifted to keyboards while ex-Manfred Mann's Earth Band guitarist Dave Flett stepped in as guitar player. This breakup meant the end of the friendship between Moore and Lynott, at least until some years into the 80s, but more about that later.

 

Moore had fled the band and found a refuge at formed Deep Purple bass player Glenn Hughes' home in Los Angeles. They ended up trying to put together a band during 1979 in L.A. They wrote some songs and secured a deal with Don Arden's Jet Records. They got Arden's daughter Sharon to manage them. A story, which is quite interesting, is that these guys almost became Ozzy Osbourne's first solo band. Ozzy who had left Black Sabbath was also signed to Jet, but he had no band. So it was suggested that Moore, Hughes and drummer Mark Nauseef who was already on Jet would back him up on his first solo outing. Studio time was booked in the US but Ozzy never showed up, and this super group never happened.

 

Sharon Arden also later became Ozzy's wife. However, the pressure of being back in the saddle as a rock star became too much for Hughes. Hughes soon announced his departure from the band. Gary replaced him with a singer and a bass player and released the G-force album. The musical direction was a mix of hard rock, pop and soul. Nevertheless, the album flopped and they also made a disastrous tour.

THE EARLY 80S
After G-force has folded Moore recruited new band mates, wrote new material and played some dates here and there as Gary Moore and Friends. They made some live recordings at The Marquee in London. Moore brought in Chris Tsangarides as the producer who he had worked with both when in Colosseum II and on "Back On The Streets". After a few lineup changes Moore went into the studio with the lineup of Jimmy Bain (bass), Don Airey (keyboard) and Tommy Aldridge (drums), Charlie Huhn (vocals) and Tsangarides yet again behind the knobs. The material was a much more straight hard rocking affair compared to G-force but both the live album and this studio effort were shelved by Jet for some reason and Moore's business relationship with Jet went sour. These albums actually surfaced a couple of years later when Jet wanted to cash in on Moore's growing popularity well after Moore and Jet had parted ways. The albums titles are "Live"/"Live at the Marquee" and "Dirty Fingers".

Still trapped by the contract with Jet as a solo artist Moore opted to join former ELP singer and bass player Greg Lake's solo band. Moore did a couple of albums with Lake as well as some tours.

 

It wasn't until 1982 that Moore was able to get a new deal, this time with Virgin/10 Records and he released "Corridors Of Power". He had managed to get former Deep Purple and Whitesnake drummer Ian Paice to join the band as well as Whitesnake bass player Neil Murray (once in Colosseum II) and Tommy Eyre (from Greg Lake's band) on keyboards. Moore finally started to build his successful career as a hard rock artist. Throughout the 80s he would continue in this direction although the revolving door policy would be applied to the lineup that just kept on changing for every album and tour, and sometimes even mid-tour.

 

In 1983 he released a live album on Virgin in Japan with the title "Rockin' Every Night - Live In Japan". It would take another few years before that live album would see a release outside Japan. Everyone who had caught Moore live knew that he was so much better live than what he had been able to capture while in the studio.

In 1984 Moore the next studio effort "Victims of The Future" and yet another live album, "We Want Moore". At this time Moore was still working hard at his career and everyone could see he was on his way to make it big. These early 80s albums were mostly classic hard rock fused with some metal influences from the strong NWOBHM (new wave of British heavy metal) scene. The guitar playing always stood in the forefront. Moore did most of the singing while he openly confessed not being too confident in his own singing. In the early 80s he had constantly been on the lookout for a good singer. He tried quite a few singers in the band but most of the time he handled the vocal duties himself.

THE LATE 80S
After stumbling on to Phil Lynott in an airport during a tour in the early 80s they were starting to find their way to their fruitful friendship. Moore appeared on a few songs on Thin Lizzy's final live album "Life/Live" as did most of the guitarists from the band's different lineups through the years. Moore and Lynott then came to collaborate on Moore's next album "Run For Cover" (1985) where Moore scored a major hit with "Out In The Fields" where Lynott shared the lead vocals. The vocal duties on the album were shared between Moore himself, Lynott and Glenn Hughes. Hughes was intended to be the singer of the live band but a conflict flared up between Moore and Hughes and again their collaboration came to a sudden stop. After this, Moore decided to handle the vocals by himself and stopped looking around for singers.

 

By now Moore was among the top names on the hard rock scene in Europe and parts of Asia. Just as was the case with Thin Lizzy he didn't have the same level of success in the US. In 1987 he followed up the success of "Run For Cover" with "Wild Frontier" an album that spawned a series of successful singles; "Over The Hills And Far Away", "Wild Frontier", "Friday On My Mind" and the instrumental "The Loner". On the album Moore fused his Irish roots with modern studio sounds and his guitar driven hard-hitting sense of melody.

 

In 1989 he tried to repeat the success with the album "After The War" and although the title track made it onto a quite successful single his success started to dwindle and the whole vibe was sounding a bit routine and tired.

THE 90S
Sure enough, just a year later made turn few people would have dared in his position. The successful hard rocker turned to the blues and actually scored his biggest hit ever with the title track off the album "Still Got The Blues For You". He managed to maintain most of his rock loving audience while bringing on massive amounts of new listeners that thought his melodic blues was appealing. Moore also managed to get some of the blues guitar icons to play on his album like Albert Collins and Albert King. After that Moore released another blues album "After Hours" (1992) and a live album, "Blues Alive" (1993). They were not nearly as successful as the first blues album though.

 

During 1993 Jack Bruce (of Cream fame) celebrated his 50th birthday (??) and invited musical guests to play with him for a couple of nights and Gary was one of them. Bruce's old pal Ginger Baker from Cream was there as well and somewhere around that time the idea of forming a band together saw the light. The trio of Bruce, Baker and Moore soon became BBM and released an album in 1994 followed by a tour. The music was a mix of Moore's regular blues style and Cream sounding rock. It came to a sudden halt after the tour and BBM became a one-off.

 

After that Moore decided to pay a tribute to his old master, Peter Green. On "Blues for Greeny" (1995) Moore covered some of Green's material playing the legendary Les Paul he once got from Green. Moore opted for a sound that was extremely close to the originals.

Then all of a sudden Moore decided it was time for another change of direction. On "Dark Days In Paradise" (1997) fused his bluesy playing with modern dance beats. Lyrically he revisited his childhood and dealt with very personally things like the fact that he had just gone through a divorce. The musical style sure was a brave move but left most of his fan base a bit confused to mention the music press etc. Live it was even more confusing when he decided not only to play some of this new material alongside with his blues songs as well as some of his 80s hard rocking material that he all of a sudden decided to dust off.

A NEW LABEL
Around this time Virgin decided to drop Moore probably because of the lack of hits and dwindling sales since the success of the "Still Got The Blues" album. In 1999 Moore was back on a new label (Castle Music/Raw Power) and an album, "A Different Beat" where he continued to experiment fusing blues with modern dance beats.

 

On "Back To The Blues" (2001) Moore decided to stop flirting with the modern dance music and as the title suggests tried to go back to a more pure blues sound.

THE FUTURE
So what does the future hold for Gary Moore? I guess we will have to wait and see, but one thing is sure, he still can play that guitar. Blues seems to be his choice when it comes to the musical style he wants to grow old with but I am sure he has more surprises for us down the road, be it more experiments with modern dance music, rock, jazz or joining/forming a new band. I am certain he will continue to be unpredictable and give us more of that enjoyable music.


Lennart Hedenstrom