Robert William Gary Moore (4 April 1952 – 6 February 2011), known as simply Gary Moore, was a musician best recognized as a blues rock guitarist and singer from Belfast, Northern Ireland.
In a career dating back to the 1960s, Moore played with artists including Phil Lynott and Brian Downey as early as his secondary school days, leading him to a membership twice with the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. Moore has shared the stage with such blues and rock luminaries as B.B. King, Albert King, Colosseum II, Greg Lake and Skid Row (not to be confused with the glam metal band of the same name), as well as having a successful solo career. He has guested on a number of albums recorded by high profile musicians, including a cameo appearance playing the lead guitar solo on “She’s My Baby” from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.
Gary Moore died on 6 February 2011 while on holiday in Estepona, Spain.
Moore grew up on a road opposite Stormont, off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast and started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight. Moore got his first good-quality guitar at the age of 14, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left-handed. Moore’s early musical influences were artists such as Albert King, Elvis Presley and The Beatles. Later, having seen Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in his home town of Belfast, his own style was developing into a blues-rock sound that would come to dominate his career.
Moore’s greatest influence in the early days came from guitarist Peter Green, of Fleetwood Mac fame, who was a mentor to Moore when performing in Dublin. Green’s continued influence on Moore was later repaid as a tribute to Green on his 1995 album Blues for Greeny, an album consisting entirely of Green compositions. On this tribute album Moore played Green’s 1959 Les Paul Standard guitar which Green had lent to Moore after leaving Fleetwood Mac. Moore ultimately purchased the guitar, at Green’s request, so that “it would have a good home”.
While somewhat less popular in the US, Moore’s work has “brought substantial acclaim and commercial success in most other parts of the world – especially in Europe”. Moore throughout his career has been recognized as an influence by many notable guitarists including Vivian Campbell, Patrick Rondat, Jake E. Lee, John Norum, Joe Bonamassa, Adrian Smith, Randy Rhoads, John Sykes, Kirk Hammett, Gus G.
Moore collaborated with a broad range of artists including George Harrison, Trilok Gurtu, Dr. Strangely Strange, Colosseum II, Albert Collins, Jimmy Nail, Mo Foster, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, Vicki Brown, Cozy Powell, the Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne and Andrew Lloyd Webber. He experimented with many musical genres, including rock, jazz, blues, country, electric blues, hard rock and heavy metal.
Moore released his first solo album in 1973, Grinding Stone (billed as “the Gary Moore Band”). In 1978 his solo career continued with help from Phil Lynott. The combination of Moore’s blues-based guitar and Lynott’s voice produced “Parisienne Walkways”, which reached the Top Ten in the UK Singles Chart in April 1979 and the Thin Lizzy album Black Rose: A Rock Legend which reached number two in the UK album chart. Moore appears in the videos for Waiting for an Alibi and Do Anything You Want To.
In 1987, Moore collaborated on the UK charity record “Let It Be”, a cover of The Beatles track. Moore performed a guitar solo for inclusion on the recording, which was released under the group-name of ‘Ferry Aid’. The record raised substantial funds for the survivors of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster.
In 1993, Moore was included on a cassette called Rock Classics Vol. 1 with “Run to Your Mama”, and “Dark Side of the Moog”.
After a series of rock records, Moore returned to blues music with Still Got the Blues, with contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins and George Harrison. The album was well received by fans. Moore stayed with the blues format until 1997, when he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on Dark Days in Paradise; this left many fans, as well as the music press, confused. Back to the Blues saw Moore return to his tried and tested blues format in 2001: he continued with this style on Power of the Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006), Close As You Get (2007) and Bad For You Baby (2008). Moore also contributed guitar sections to Richard Blackwood’s 2000 album, You’ll Love to Hate This.
Moore also took part in a comedy skit titled “The Easy Guitar Book Sketch” with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow British musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motorhead, Mark King from Level 42, and David Gilmour.
Gary Moore died at the age of 58 in the early hours of the morning on 6 February 2011 whilst on holiday at the Kempinski Hotel, Estepona, Spain with the death confirmed by his former manager Adam Parsons.
I met Gary at the High Voltage Festival in London last summer, and even then he didn’t look in the best of shapes, overweight, and struggling for breath, mind you though, he had just come off stage after playing a blistering set. But my own personal memory of Gary Moore will be, the Black Rose album, in my opinion his best work ever with Thin Lizzy.
So in finishing this biog of the best rock/blues guitarist I would like to say
GARY MOORE R.I.P.
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