The music world got some sad news on Sunday. Legendary guitar player Gary Moore had passed away. From his time in Thin Lizzy to his solo rock work and lastly his blues phase, he is without a doubt one of the greatest guitarist of all-time. When you look back, it is kind of funny how he was never considered on of the top gunslingers at the time. He was not as flashy or fast as the shredders of the 70’s and 80’s. Many purist did not consider him a real blues man, even when they heard the undeniable proof with their own ears.
He is probably best known for his stints in Thin Lizzy. While he was in and out on several occasions, he did record one of their best albums Black Rose:A Rock Legend. Even when he was not in the band, his connection and friendship with Phil Lynott was always there. From Lizzy reworking one of his songs to Phil showing up on Gary’s “Out In The Fields” song and video. For many of us that was the last time we saw Phil and seeing them together was somewhat poetic. Gary’s biggest solo success was with the hit “Parisienne Walkways”. Ironically, a touching ballad but any avid fan would tell you of Gary’s love and propensity for making touching ballads.
The one track that was my gateway to Gary Moore was “End of the World” off of Corridors of Power. I was a teenager in the 80’s and this song came on the radio in the middle of the night. It was playing on the clock radio and the power and uniqueness of this song woke me up. I shot straight up and any slumber I had was gone as I drank in note after note. You have to remember at the time shredders were a dime a dozen and it was tough to really impress a young headbanger, especially one that was ordering stuff by the truckload from Shrapnel Records. But impress me it did and the next day I drove to Sound Warehouse and bought said cassette and immediately cued up side 2 so I could hear “End of the World” again to make sure it was not some dream. It was real and was just as great as I remembered. The funny thing about that story is I have heard similar ones from other people. By buddy Dave heard it in the middle of the night while he was driving and had to pull over to the side of the road just so he could concentrate on it.
Gary released several more rock records. The aforementioned “Out In The Fields”, was from Run For Cover, a terrific album whose lyrical content reflected his anti-war mentality. Another gem on the same album was “Empty Rooms” a lovely ballad of regret. And in true Irishmen form “All Messed Up” a hard rockin; song about hard partyin’. Wild Frontier came out after that and showcased his Irish roots. His last rock record was After The War, while not his strongest release it had the awesome “Led Clones” a not so subtle shot at bands like Kingdom Come that were blatantly ripping off Zeppelin.
It was then that Gary left rock behind. He started releasing well received blues records and immersed himself in that scene. The only time he did some rock stuff was a tribute to Phil and the album Scars. This was a very interesting album he did with members of the band Skunk Anansie and Primal Scream. It was back to the blues and in 2008 he came out with Close As You Get. I thought this was his best non-rock album. The blues stuff had a more rocking tough and it also had “Evenin”. An instrumental ballad that told a beautiful sorrowful story without the need for words.
Besides his overflowing catalog of great music, he is also known for a job he did not get. Gary was the original pick for guitarist on Ozzy’s solo debut. Unfortunately an accident happened and Gary could not make a go of it and the rest is history. It was probably for the best as having Gary and Ozzy on tour together would have shortened their careers. The human liver can only take so much. One other non-musical fact about Gary is the huge scar on his face. He got that after being stabbed in the face with a knife It also gave us the greatest line from Ozzy. He remarked that Gary Moore had a face like a welders bench.
Thankfully Gary’s hands were fine and we were able to receive his greatest gift through all those years.
Even though he maybe gone his music will be with us. Even though he may have been unheralded, those of us that heard him, knew he was the best.
The proof is in his music.