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Gary Moore

Gary Moore
Moore in 2010
Moore in 2010
Background information
Birth nameRobert William Gary Moore
Born(1952-04-04)4 April 1952
Belfast, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Died6 February 2011(2011-02-06) (aged 58)
Estepona, Malaga Province, Spain
Occupation(s)Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsMain: Vocals, guitar Occasional: Bass, harmonica, keyboards
Years active1969–2011
LabelsVirgin, Charisma, Eagle, Provogue Records
Associated actsSkid Row, Thin Lizzy, Colosseum II, Phil Lynott, Greg Lake, BBM, G Force, B.B. King

Robert William Gary Moore (4 April 1952[3] – 6 February 2011) was a Northern Irish guitarist and singer-songwriter. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Moore had a "restless career trajectory—taking in blues, rock, heavy metal, jazz-fusion and other styles over four and a half decades".[2] He is often described as a virtuoso guitarist.[1][4][5][6]

Born and raised in Belfast, Moore played in the line-ups of several local bands during his teenage years, before moving to Dublin, after having been asked to join the Irish band Skid Row before the departure of lead singer Phil Lynott. Moore later played with Lynott in Thin Lizzy and joined the British jazz-rock band Colosseum II. He also had a successful solo career with eleven UK Top 40 single releases, which included the top ten songs "Parisienne Walkways" and "Out in the Fields" (a collaboration with Lynott),[7] and peaked in popularity with his best-selling album Still Got the Blues in 1990.[8]

Moore shared the stage with blues and rock musicians including B.B. King, Albert King, John Mayall, Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, Albert Collins, George Harrison and Greg Lake.[9]

Early life and career

Moore grew up on Castleview Road opposite Stormont Parliament Buildings in East Belfast as one of five children. His father Bobby, was a promoter and his mother, Winnie was a housewife. He left Belfast as a teenager due to problems in his family and just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland.

Moore picked up an acoustic guitar at the age of ten. He made his live debut in a school band during the intermission of one of his father's promoted shows. Moore acquired a standard right hand Fender Telecaster at the age of fourteen and learned to play the instrument, even though he was left-handed.

In 1968, at the young age of 16, and after Moore had performed with a number of Belfast-based bands, he moved to Dublin, with his father's permission, after being asked to join Skid Row (Irish band). Moore's greatest influence in the early days was English guitarist Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac who became a mentor to Moore while performing in Dublin.

Other early musical influences were artists such as The Shadows, Albert King, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles. Later, having seen Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Cream in his home town of Belfast, he developed his own style blues-rock sound that would be the dominant form in his career.[10]

Skid Row, Thin Lizzy and Colosseum 1968–1978

After joining Skid Row along with Noel Bridgeman and Brendan "Brush" Shiels, they cut a number of singles and an album which were released in 1970. The band then went on to play shows across Europe and the USA as the opening act for a number of high profile bands. It was with the early line up of this group that he first met Philip Lynott and it was the start of a long association. Also, around this time, his reputation as a guitarist began to grow.

In 1970 Moore moved to England and apart from two short periods in the United States remained there for the rest of his career. He released his first album Grinding Stone by The Gary Moore Band in 1973, which was released on CBS Records, in the UK and Europe. The album was issued in North America on Neil Kempfer-Stocker's fledgling record label imprint Cosmos and achieved "Album of the Year" and accolades on KTAC-FM/Seattle-Tacoma, Washington in 1974.[citation needed] Moore left the band in December 1971.[11]

In January 1974, he re-joined Lynott in Thin Lizzy after the departure of founding member Eric Bell. Moore stayed until April that year and the band recorded three songs with him, including the single "Still in Love with You", which was included on the band's fourth album, Nightlife (1974).[12]

During 1974/5, Gary Moore performed on a number of recordings as a session guitarist, and can be heard on records by Eddie Howell [13] Jack Lancaster's Peter and the Wolf. On these recording sessions, Gary Moore met Jon Hiseman and they decided to start a band, Colosseum II. They released their first album, Strange New Flesh in March 1976. The band also collaborated with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the composer's Variations (1978).[14] In early 1977 Moore rejoined Thin Lizzy, first as a temporary replacement for the injured Brian Robertson and then on a permanent basis in the summer of 1978.

Hard rock, heavy metal years and Greg Lake

Between late 1977 and early 1978 while performing with Colosseum II, Moore recorded the album Back on the Streets which featured the hit single "Parisienne Walkways". The song achieved Top Ten status in the UK Singles Chart in April 1979. While Back on the Streets was climbing the charts, Gary Moore rejoined Thin Lizzy and stayed with them for a year, recording Black Rose: A Rock Legend with them, which reached number two in the UK album chart in 1979. He also appeared in the videos for "Waiting for an Alibi", "With Love" and "Do Anything You Want To". He left the band abruptly in July of that year during a U.S. tour.[12]

Moore then formed his own band G-Force and recorded an album for Jet Records but the project was short-lived. More material was recorded at this time and these tracks were released after Moore had signed to Virgin Records.

Moore performing at the Manchester Apollo, 1983

He also joined Greg Lake on Lake's first solo record Greg Lake released in 1981, recorded after the demise of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Moore toured with the Greg Lake band, including their performance 5 November 1981 at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, broadcast live on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, released in 1995 as King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Greg Lake in Concert; and recorded a second Greg Lake solo record but did not tour to support it. After the Greg Lake project ended, Moore started work on the first of several hard rock records as a solo artist. He recorded Corridors of Power in 1982, and Victims of the Future followed in January, 1984. These recordings featured Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and Colosseum II and Whitesnake bass player Neil Murray, among others. Also featured was Neil Carter who would be included in Moore's bands during the years to come. In later years Moore distanced himself from these albums.[15][citation needed]

Released in May 1983, Dirty Fingers had been recorded in 1981 for the Jet Records label, with an entirely different band and was the last album before Moore began to sing lead vocals.

Moore moved on in a more commercial direction with the album Run for Cover which was released in 1985. This album was the final co-operation between Moore and Phil Lynott, who died early the following year. The album's first single "Out in the Fields" was a hit in the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. The ballad "Empty Rooms", which had previously appeared on the Victims of the Future album became a fan favorite.[citation needed]

Moore's 1987 album Wild Frontier saw Moore return to Celtic influenced hard rock similar to his period with Thin lizzy but with emphasis on The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The songs questioned the sense of belonging in the face of hardships and death. The album dedicated a track to Phil Lynott, who had died during the recording sessions. The album and single "Over the Hills and Far Away", found success in Norway, Finland and Western Europe but failed to make an impact in the United States.[16] The next two singles, "Wild Frontier" and "Friday on my Mind", which was a cover of an Easybeats song) followed. After the War, released in 1989, did not have quite the same international success of its predecessor, but gave Moore his highest chart ranking in the lucrative German market.

Still Got The Blues

Moore performing, 23 October 2010

Following After the War, Moore reverted back to electric blues which had so inspired him during his early days in Belfast and recorded Still Got the Blues (1990), which featured contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins and George Harrison. The album was well received in the US where it was later certified as a gold release by the R.I.A.A.[17]

The follow up album After Hours, released in 1992, also featured contributions from such artists as B.B King, Albert Collins and The Memphis Horns.

In 1994, he recorded, as part of the short lived power trio BBM (Bruce, Baker & Moore) with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker of Cream fame, releasing the album Around the Next Dream.;[18] this line up, along with Tommy Eyre on keyboards, then undertook a UK and European tour.

Peter Green's continued influence on Moore was repaid as a tribute to Green on his 1995 album Blues for Greeny, an album consisting almost entirely of Green's compositions. On this 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 and Green is reputed to have commented that "it would have a good home".[19]

Moore returned to the blues style with Back to the Blues (2001) and continued in the genre with Power of the Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006), Close As You Get (2007), and Bad For You Baby (2008), his final studio album.

Personal life

In his twenties, Moore was involved in a fight that resulted in permanent facial scars from a broken bottle.[20]

Moore had two sons from his marriage that lasted from 1985 to 1993, and a daughter with his second wife. He also had an older daughter from an earlier relationship.[citation needed]


Gary Moore's gravestone in the churchyard of St Margaret's Church, Rottingdean

Gary Moore died of a heart attack in his sleep at the age of 58 during the early hours of 6 February 2011. At the time he was on holiday with his girlfriend Petra Nioduschewski at the Kempinski Hotel in Estepona, Spain. His death was confirmed by Thin Lizzy's manager Adam Parsons.[11][21] The Daily Telegraph reported that Moore's fatal heart attack was brought on by a high level of alcohol in his body.[22]

Gary Moore's eldest son Jack and his uncle Cliff Moore performed the Irish ballad "Danny Boy" at his funeral. This was reported in The Belfast Telegraph as "a flawless tribute at which some mourners in the church wept openly". He was laid to rest in a private ceremony at St Margaret's Churchyard, Rottingdean, East Sussex, England, with only family and close friends in attendance.[23]

Style and legacy

Moore was popular in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Japan, but less successful in the US.[24] Throughout his career, Moore was recognised as an influence by many notable guitarists including Martin Barre,[25] Vivian Campbell,[26] Paul Gilbert,[27] Zakk Wylde,[28] and Joe Bonamassa.[29]

Since his death, many fellow musicians have commented on Gary Moore's talents including Ozzy Osbourne,[30] Kirk Hammett,[31] Eric Singer,[32] Doug Aldrich,[33] Tony Iommi,[34] Bob Geldof,[35] Roger Taylor,[36] Brian May,[37] Brian Downey,[38][39] Andy DiGelsomina,[40] Ricky Warwick,[41] Ignacio Garay,[42] and Mikael Åkerfeldt.[43] On 18 April 2011, a number of musicians including Eric Bell and Brian Downey, Thunder Rising, Silverbird and The Business Blues Band gathered for a tribute concert in Whelan's bar in Dublin, Ireland titled 'The Gig For Gary'.[44]

In March 2011 Guitarist produced a tribute special with unreleased footage from 2009. Twitter was flooded with tributes from fans for several days after his death.[45]

A large statue of Moore was erected on a small island outside Skånevik, following his many performances at the Skånevik Blues Festival.[citation needed]

In April 2017 Henrik Freischlader released a tribute album titled Blues For Gary featuring Pete Rees and Vic Martin.[46]

Jack Moore performed a tribute on his guitar, that had belonged to his father, alongside Danny Young in the form of a music video around the anniversary of his father's birthday, in April 2017.[47][48][49] The song was named "Phoenix", which was written and performed by both Jack Moore and Danny Young.[citation needed]

Moore played his last show of the 2009 Bad For You Baby tour, at the Islington Academy, London, in the December of that year. Live From London, a recording of that event, went on to reach the top slot of the Billboard blues album chart upon its release in 2020.[citation needed]



Moore was associated with many guitar brands over his career, but the guitar he was most associated with was the Gibson Les Paul. The guitar was originally owned by Peter Green. Green sold the guitar to his younger friend Moore in 1974 for the price that Moore got from selling a Gibson SG, his main guitar at that time. Moore used the guitar extensively over the next three decades, playing this instrument on hits such as "Parisienne Walkways". The guitar is now owned by Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett who purchased the guitar a number of years after Moore had sold it for $2 Million U.S. dollars.[50][51]

Another guitar Moore was associated with was a red 1961 Fender Stratocaster which Moore had purchased in 1981. The guitar was almost sold to Greg Lake who had rejected it because it was not pristine. The Red Strat is also known as the Pink Strat and was extensively used by Moore on Corridors of Power along with many other recording sessions. The Red Strat was used at many live performances, most notably at the Fender 50th Anniversary show held at Wembley Arena, North London in 2004 when Moore performed Jimi Hendrix's song "Red House". The neck pickup was rewound by pickup maker Seymour Duncan in 1998. Fender Guitars launched a custom shop tribute replica of the Red Strat in 2016, which was undertaken by Fender master builder John Cruz.[52][53][54][55]

Musical collaborations and other appearances

In 1987, he performed a guitar solo for a cover of the Beatles' "Let It Be", which was released under the group-name of Ferry Aid. The record raised funds for the survivors of the MS Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. In 1990, he played the lead guitar solo on "She's My Baby" from Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.[56]

Moore took part in a comedy skit with French and Saunders entitled "The Easy Guitar Book Sketch". This also included comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motörhead, Mark King and David Gilmour .[57][58]

In January 2005, Moore joined the One World Project who recorded a song for the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami relief effort. The project also featured Russell Watson, Boy George, Steve Winwood, Barry Gibb, Brian Wilson, Cliff Richard, Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Robin Gibb. The song entitled "Grief Never Grows Old" included a guitar solo by Moore and was released in February 2005, reaching #4 on the U.K Singles Chart.[59]

Other collaborations included an eclectic mix artists including Trilok Gurtu, Dr. Strangely Strange, Jimmy Nail, Mo Foster, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, B.B. King, Vicki Brown, Cozy Powell, Rod Argent, the Beach Boys, Paul Rodgers, Keith Emerson, Roger Daltrey and Otis Taylor.[60]



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