Robert William Gary Moore (4 April 1952 – 6 February 2011), was a Northern Irish musician, most widely recognised as a singer and guitarist.
In a career dating back to the 1960s, Moore played with artists including Phil Lynott and Brian Downey during his teens, leading him to memberships with the Irish bands Skid Row and Thin Lizzy on three separate occasions. Moore shared the stage with such blues and rock luminaries as B.B. King, Albert King, Colosseum II, George Harrison and Greg Lake, as well as having a successful solo career. He 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.
Early life and career
Moore started performing at a young age, having picked up a battered acoustic guitar at the age of eight. He got his first quality guitar at the age of 14, learning to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left-handed. He moved to Dublin in 1968 at the age of 16. His early musical influences were artists such as Albert King, Elvis Presley, The Shadows 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 be the dominant form of his career in music.
Moore's greatest influence in the early days was guitarist Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac 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 less popular in the US, Moore's work "brought substantial acclaim and commercial success in most other parts of the world – especially in Europe". Throughout his career, Moore was recognised as an influence by many notable guitarists including Vivian Campbell, Patrick Rondat, John Norum, Paul Gilbert, Gus G, Slash, Orianthi, Joe Bonamassa, Adrian Smith, Doug Aldrich, Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads, John Sykes and Kirk Hammett.
He collaborated with a broad range of artists including Phil Lynott, George Harrison, Trilok Gurtu, Dr. Strangely Strange, Colosseum II, Travelling Wilburys, Albert Collins, Jimmy Nail, Mo Foster, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, Vicki Brown, Cozy Powell, Rod Argent, the Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Paul Rodgers, Keith Emerson, Roger Daltrey, Albert King, Otis Taylor (musician) and together with Colosseum II with Andrew Lloyd Webber on the composer's Variations album in 1978. He experimented with many musical genres, including rock, jazz, blues, country, electric blues, hard rock and heavy metal.
In 1968, aged 16, Moore moved to Dublin to join the group Skid Row with Noel Bridgeman and Brendan "Brush" Shiels. It was with this group that he earned a reputation in the music industry, and his association with Phil Lynott began.
Moore released his first solo album in 1973, Grinding Stone (billed as "the Gary Moore Band"). 'Grinding Stone' was issued in North America on Neil Kempfer-Stocker's fledgling record label imprint Cosmos. It received 'Album of the Year' accolades on KTAC-FM/Seattle-Tacoma, Washington in 1974. 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, he collaborated on the UK charity record "Let It Be", a cover of the Beatles track. He 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, he 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. He stayed with the blues format until 1997 when he returned to the harder rock, but with a softer, more pop and ballad-oriented sound on Dark Days in Paradise followed with another change of direction in 1999, when he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on A Different Beat; this left many fans, as well as the music press, confused. He also contributed guitar sections to Richard Blackwood's 2000 album, You'll Love to Hate This.
With Back to the Blues, Moore returned 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).
In January 2005, Moore joined the One World Project, which recorded a song for the 2004 Asian Tsunami relief effort. The group featured Russell Watson, Boy George, Steve Winwood, Barry Gibb, Brian Wilson, Cliff Richard, Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Robin Gibb on vocals (in their order of appearance), and featured a guitar solo by Moore. The song, entitled "Grief Never Grows Old", was released in February 2005, reaching No. 4 on the UK Singles Chart.
At a press conference in Russia, weeks before his death, he announced that he would not visit the "criminal state" of Israel "because of its racist policies against the Palestinian people".
He also took part in a comedy skit entitled "The Easy Guitar Book Sketch" with comedian Rowland Rivron and fellow musicians Mark Knopfler, Lemmy from Motorhead, Mark King from Level 42, and David Gilmour.
Moore grew up on Castleview Road opposite Stormont Parliament Buildings, off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast, as one of five children of a promoter named Bobby and housewife, Winnie, but he left the city as a teenager, because all was not well in their household. His parents parted a year later. He left just as The Troubles were starting in Northern Ireland.
Aiming to become a musician, he moved to Dublin at the age of 16 and joined Skid Row, a band that then included Phil Lynott. Moore would later re-join Lynott in 1973, when he first joined Thin Lizzy after the departure of founding member Eric Bell, and again in 1977. (Lynott also played on Moore's 1985 album Run for Cover before Lynott's death the following year.) He moved to England in 1970 and remained there, apart from two short periods in America. In 2002, he bought a five-bedroom detached Edwardian house in Hove, just west of Brighton, Sussex, to be near his sons, Jack and Gus, from his former marriage, which had lasted from 1985 to 1993. Since 1997, he was living with his partner, an artist named Jo, and their daughter Lily (b. 1999). His daughter Saoirse, was born from an earlier relationship while he was with Skid Row. His residence was reported to be on Vallance Gardens in Hove, East Sussex.
Moore died of a heart attack, associated with consumption of large amounts of alcohol, at the age of 58 during the early hours of 6 February 2011. At the time, he was on holiday at the Kempinski Hotel in Estepona, Spain, with a girlfriend, who raised the alarm at 4:00 am. His death was confirmed by Thin Lizzy's manager Adam Parsons. Tests revealed that Moore died after consuming alcohol. It is reported he had 380 mg of alcohol per decilitre of blood in his system – a very high level of alcohol intoxication.
Moore was laid to rest in St Margaret's Churchyard, Rottingdean, East Sussex, England, which is close to Brighton, in a private ceremony with only the family, and close friends in attendance.
Since his death, many fellow musicians have commented on Gary Moore's talents including Ozzy Osbourne, Kirk Hammett, Eric Singer, Doug Aldrich, Tony Iommi, Bob Geldof, Roger Taylor, Brian May, Brian Downey, Andy DiGelsomina, Ricky Warwick, Glenn Hughes, Bryan Adams, Henry Rollins, Scott Gorham, Ignacio Garay, and Mikael Åkerfeldt. On 18 April 2011, a number of musicians including Eric Bell and Brian Downey, Silverbird and The Business blues band gathered for a tribute concert in Whelan's bar in Dublin, Ireland titled 'The Gig For Gary'.
Fans have called for popular magazines such as Classic Rock, Guitarist and Total Guitar to do tributes. In March 2011 Guitarist produced a tribute special with unreleased footage from 2009. Twitter was flooded with tributes from fans for several days after the news was revealed.
- Grinding Stone (1973)
- Back on the Streets (1978)
- G-Force (1980)
- Corridors of Power (1982)
- Dirty Fingers (1983)
- Victims of the Future (1983)
- Run for Cover (1985)
- Wild Frontier (1987)
- After the War (1989)
- Still Got the Blues (1990)
- After Hours (1992)
- Blues for Greeny (1995)
- Dark Days in Paradise (1997)
- A Different Beat (1999)
- Back to the Blues (2001)
- Scars (2002)
- Power of the Blues (2004)
- Old New Ballads Blues (2006)
- Close As You Get (2007)
- Bad for You Baby (2008)
- Give us Moore! – Gary Moore Tribute (Lion Music 2004)
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Image from Discogs