As we near the anniversary of Gary's birth, April 4th, in a post on Metro Amp forum, I chose to reflect upon thoughts of Gary at this time and many have encouraged the biography of Gary that I actually set out many years ago to do as an autobiographywith the man himself..sadly this was never to be though I tried.
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Gary Moore: That Ole’ Blues Thang Still Got me…
One of my favorite Gary Moore eras, which un-coincidentally happened to be his last as well was the period of 1987′s Wild Frontier
As you may or may not know, the CD’s and DVD’s that I sent to Neil Carter, were used by him and Gary in their rehearsals for the 2010 Celtic rock tour.
As you can imagine my joy from hearing that and my enthusiasm and interview with Neil Carter about that period which occurred prior to them getting back together.
So in my whole life practically as a GM fan to find all this out was a huge mitzvah as they say..
So many things have occurred in my life which feels so short at times and other times like it has gone on forever..
That I am fans of certain guitarists and that my life becomes connected with them in various ways has been a blessing in many ways.
It’s the positive side of fandom if you will, not to worship these players as idols, but as fellow human beings that we share a love for guitar playing and music together.
I have met Yngwie Malmsteen in 2005 and just last year finally got to meet one of my all time guitar heroes, Steve Stevens.
So for an old guy like me at 57, I know some say it’s not that old, but it is trust me, to have all these connections is deeply satisfying.
It is the bootlegs from the Wild Frontier tour that really show the incredible talent of Gary and that band that was meant to be.
For me starting out it was Jimi Hendrix whom I collected every LP record bootleg available back then and heard the whole shows, warts and all to get a real appreciation for the talent of the artist.
I have been doing this since I was like 9 years old or so.
I may not be able to play like these people but I absorb so much from watching and listening to them.
This process never ends fortunately..sure the antenna get rusty every so often, but every now and then the picture becomes crystal clear.
I believe that the tones Gary was getting on that tour were some of his best ever. Not many guys could play this stuff like Gary.
With his high action and heavy strings in regular tuning, that is a strong component of how heavy his sound was.
Plus he was able to utilize somewhat primitive rack technology compared to todays setups, but still a combination of rack effects and pedals, albeit in rack trays these days, this has been on a comeback.
Gary was always on the cutting edge in his day trying out new gear and not afraid to experiment.
The Wild Frontier tone as I call it is the culmination of sound he had been developing since 1983 onwards both with the amps setups and his playing, able to successfully play extremely loud and yet mute all the unused strings, plus developing that incredible right hand, which Gary later stated being left handed, he felt that his right hand was the weaker of the two as far as intricate picking..I didn’t feel that way though.
All the greats I have seen and there have been many, including Jeff Beck, they have developed the knack of playing extremely loud guitar live with no extraneous noises.
This may well be the toughest skill set to acquire and to me always shows the ‘hand’ pardon the expression of the old school seasoned player.
The chorus/echo, digital delay, Dimension D, Tubescreamer, volume pedal all these in combination with the extremely powerful yet magically musical EMG pickups through the top mounted Original Floyd Rose tremolos and the magic of the San Dimas era Charvels combines to make an Irish pot of gold if you will.
The video of the Isstadion Stockholm show that April day will live on in recorded memory forever.
The versions are all very good in that set, Neil Carter says that on Thunder Rising in particular for him, Gary’s guitar had a sound that he thought almost otherworldly.
Gary Moore was the real deal and as Greg Lake said and he would know, grasping Gary from virtual obscurity to join his band, recognizing his immense talent.
Here is what he said in an interview:
NICK DERISO: Later, you established a terrific collaborative relationship with Gary Moore through a pair of solo albums in the early 1980s. What was it like to work with a more overtly blues-based guitarist?
GREG LAKE: It was a strange time, because when ELP sort of retired, or semiretired, we didn’t really break up, we just stopped playing – just because we wanted to do other things. Just get away from being ELP, really. But for a while I felt awfully dislocated. For the last decade, the only musical identity I had was ELP and, all of a sudden, it stopped. For a while, I was just sort of spun. I really had no sense of direction, because I had every freedom in the world and yet all of musical fabric had been stripped immediately by the band not being there anymore. So it was a question of doing something different. I started to work with all kinds of people. I worked with Toto for a while. When we finally did get together in the same band, I learned a lot about Gary. He’s not really blues. He played the blues, but he chose that as a career. In truth, the spirit of Gary Moore is Irish. That was not the music he played professionally. But when you hear him play sort of an Irish jig or a ballad, it would break your heart.
That is true I have written often on my blog Daveonrock about Celtic music and read a great deal of books on the subject while I was attending community college in Pennsylvania for my nursing degree and I was fascinated by the stories and the pure heart of the music.
This is ancient music, yet it springs to life each time it is played by generation after generation.
Both Phil Lynott, who was a great poet and storyteller as well and Gary Moore shared a love for Ireland’s rich musical heritage and it was reflected strongly in their joint compositions.
Unfortunately Phil’s candle had burnt brightly at first but eventually at both ends so his was a slow fade with Gary and himself being somewhat on the outs.
Make no mistake his death hit Gary very hard, Gary has always worn his heart on his sleeve, telling all there is to know in the lyrics and melodies of his songs. This is for some reason contributory to how he is so often misunderstood by the music business and often the press and even his fans to some extent.
With Gary as is the case of most of the artists I am drawn to, they are performing this musical adventure clearly without a net or any semblance of safety or self-preservation.
The late Tommy Bolin, whose exotic blend of influences and styles I greatly admired is a prime example of a talent burning so brightly yet the very creative drive that sparked him on also lit the fuse on the time bomb that was his brief life.
That Gary carried a heavy heart and much sadness after 1986 is well documented.
I feel that he successfully carried the torch that Phillip had lit and with great honor and passion.
To finally succumb to the dulling effect of alcohol and ill health was a tragedy that needed to be avoided, yet it appears that all around him knew, yet the ships course was set for the rocky shore.
I feel that the events after Gary’s death were predictable as far as the incredibly lame and pathetic coverage of his varied life and in a way the prejudicial way in which he was judged in life, so in death.
I am not surprised in the least sadly and this is why I reached out to Gary in life many years ago to try and tell his story, to get people to finally understand.
It wasn’t to be and with the tremendous joy and excitement surrounding the 2010 tour where Gary was finally coming full circle again and playing the music he truly loved, this also brought him squarely back into that 1986 period of Phil’s passing.
Having seen another fellow colleague stricken down, Rory Gallagher, this also affected Gary greatly.
Yes Gary did a BBC radio show in celebration of Rory’s life and he was a pallbearer at Rory’s funeral.
Gary was carrying the weight of that coffin inside him as all the bright lights of Irish music were slowly extinguished for good.
Gary’s foray into the world of blues, secondary to a suggestion by his longtime bassist Bob Daisley, that he try his hand at blues music was met with his greatest ever commercial success.
Gary admitted that the live rehearsals for the first album saw the music and the band in it’s purest form, before it was diluted into a show almost as big as his earlier rock efforts.
That Gary Moore played the blues the way Gary Moore should and needed to, there was never any doubt in my mind.
That the era seemed to drag on and on, frankly as a fan fair weather or not even I was growing weary of the seemingly endless progression of blues albums.
Gary was clearly enjoying himself for the most part and rediscovering his great ability at singing and song crafting.
Nobody paid more respect to the blues gods that Gary brought to the stage and recording studio.
It greatly saddens me, yet again I am not surprised by the reactions of a bitter old man, B.B.King, who great as he is/was for wasn’t the artist the other Kings and Collins were.
That he would take such offense to Gary’s tributes to him on stage, where he interpreted Gary’s call and response playing style as ‘cutting him up.’
It is my firm belief and I will never be dissuaded otherwise that Gary honestly had asked BB to play on After Hours and BB had wanted to do a whole CD with Gary. Gary had declined, yet BB went on tour with Gary and Gary even opened up for BB on BB’s farewell UK tour.
Yet still the acrimony towards Gary. Looking at all the autobiographical material put out by the Beale Street Blues Boy both during and after Gary’s life had ended..there is not one mention of a Gary Moore ever having crossed paths with him.
This of course is his choice, but I feel that it tells another story as well.
Gary’s exact words on the subject are: “BB King told me off. He used to say, hey Gary you got to stop cuttin’ me up! I was just so excited to be playing with him, that I was playing for him.”
And this is patently obvious to anyone who watches the video of the two songs they performed together on Gary’s video release Live Blues
Gary reverentially I would say treats BB during the Thrill is Gone. Here we see Gary so successfully mimicking BB’s ‘hummingbird vibrato’ and all his melodic runs that it is clearly the work of a man inspired by his muse.
No head cutting is going on. Gary already has the winning boy’s hand, the mojo, his technique on the fabulous ex-Peter Green Les Paul is legendary.
Also the travesty that is Eric Clapton’s musical circus Crossroads, never was a hand of welcome extended to Gary Moore, who could out-Clapton Eric, even at the height of his former prowess. But Gary never looked at it that way.
Eric was his biggest influence besides, Peter Green. That Gary could magically play in both legendary guitarists styles, was another display of his keen ear and ability to absorb every nuance of style and tone and technique, a triple threat not achieved by anyone else to my ear, now or then.
Gary’s response to never being asked was so typical of him: “No he’s never asked me and I don’t think he will. I’m probably the only one he hasn’t asked. But listen, I love Eric’s playing, if it wasn’t for Eric, this world I live in wouldn’t exist.”
I know others laud Clapton’s efforts with his acoustic (what else,,lol) version of Still Got The Blues , I have maybe listened to like 15 seconds of it, so repugnant is it to me who loved Gary’s playing and music and what he clearly stood for.
The English magazine Guitarist had the best tribute out there and it was a collection of quotes by Gary from the various issues he had appeared in, gracing their cover more than any other artist fittingly.
Dave 03/19/2012 yngwie308/Emerald/Atomic Playboy