Goodbye to my Hero.

Sunday 6th Feb 2011 @ 16:23 my phone goes, a text, “It’s not true is it? ” ” Gary Moore dead?” .  Dave, a student of mine for many years and a fellow Moore worshipper. This was the first I’d heard of it. I hoped it was silly buggers on Twitter choosing the next celeb to trend and cause a fuss about. I hoped on my phone and googled, A website came up, HOTPRESS and they were running that he had indeed died that night in his sleep.  How can he be dead he’s 58. He’s doing a new album, he’s on tour this year, I’ve already checked where and want to see this incarnation with Neil Carter back and rumourings that it is back to the Run for Cover/Wild Frontier feel. He can’t be dead. I went numb my heart sank and a genuine sadness and sense of loss swept over me.

Now to some you’d wonder why I’d be affected by a rock star passing. Gary Moore is the sole reason I make a living playing the guitar. I saw Gary Moore on a Ch4 programme playing live and I wanted to play guitar from that second. It became all consuming.  I pestered my parents into letting me buy a guitar and then I set about emulating my new God.

The Christmas of that year I received money as presents, I still remember getting my parents to drive me to Portsmouth where I purchased the entire Gary Moore section of Virgin and Our Price. I came home with all the albums available and the Video tapes. In particular Live in the Emerald Aisles which I have seen possibly in the 10’s of thousands times now, I’m on my third copy.  I spent years day in day out with my walkman on ( that’s a personal cassette player to you youngsters, a bit like a medieval iPod) and one of my many Gary Moore albums in it. I had scrap books full of cuttings from magazines like Kerrang and RAW. If Gary was on the television I recorded it on the VHS. I still have a Gary Moore VHS compilation, tape ( nothing to play it on) but on it is his demonstrations on the BBC programme Rockschool where he demonstrates the differences between Strats and Les Pauls. Late night recordings from a TVS special against drugs where he played “Strangers in the Darkness “.

My obsession got to the point of I wore the same clothing, I had a pair of silver Nike basketball boots the same as he had worn circa 86-87 and I had the long coats that I had stitched his logo on to. I’d walk about in a denim jacket covered in Gary Moore patches and badges, it was no great secret that I was a HUGE fan.

The first gig I ever attended was Gary Moore at Guildford Civic Hall.  It was the warm up show for a Milton Keynes gig that I had no hope of attending at that age.  I stood at the front between Neil Carter’s monitors. The lights dimmed, the sequenced intro to Run For Cover started, Gary hit that first chord, pyro’s went off, my sense were assaulted from all directions and it was awesome and still a defining moment for me. I went on to see Gary Moore countless times live. I needed little excuse to see him in concert. Anyone that has seen him live will tell you that live was the real deal. Records were ok, but when he could cut loose and just play he was mesmerising. The guitar screamed, cried, laughed and touched you in ways that words just don’t convey.

The live at Isstadion Stockholm video is a prized possession for me and possibly the biggest influence on my playing is this performance

I haven’t seen anyone else play like this before or since.

I bought guitars and amps because Gary Moore used them. I had an Ibanez Gary Moore model as seen on The Emerald Aisles video, I had a Gallien Kruger 250ml amp as Gary Moore had one. I had Charvel and Jackson guitars because he was playing them.

For many years I worked in a Guitar shop called Guitar Village and was well known for rarely taking a day off or any holiday.  One day I did take a day off and returned the following day to work. I arrived in the shop and set about cashing the till for the day when I spied a polaroid picture on the counter with a piece of paper next to it with “what do you mean it’s his day off scrawled on it.” To my surprise and horror, the day I took off was the day Gary Moore chose to visit the shop. He kindly had posed for a pic by the counter as the owner knew that would make my day.  I believe they still have the pic in the shop.

Students of mine will know only to well that once I introduced Gary Moore to them that my level of enthusiasm would be unmistakable. I’ve lost count of how many students took their music exams playing The Loner or Parisienne Walkways and consequently got “A”‘s.  Many have been on the receiving end of me saying “OK smart arse, lets do “End of the World” by Gary Moore, lets see you nail this intro. Then playing them the album version and then the We Want Moore live version and just letting them know that that is a standard Strat and Marshall amp with maybe a tube screamer and delay in there. No Floyds, No super hot pickups, no multi effects, just raw ability.  They all learnt something from that.

There has rarely been a band I’ve played in that I haven’t played at least one Gary Moore tune in, I used to rally against playing them as I knew trying to do justice to one of his tunes is no mean feat and I didn’t want to bore everyone with my infatuation.  In fact it was only in the last week that I had decided that I should do a Gary Moore tribute show as I knew so many and it had been mentioned to me on numerous occasions that I should do one.  The last 4 days have been spent with me making lists of the songs I thought covered a career and did justice to his diversity and playing through them.  I wasn’t expecting him to die a few days later.  Now it feels slightly awkward and a bit like cashing in, but my tribute will come from the heart and for all the right reasons. I had been watching the Gary Moore live in Dublin Phil Lynott tribute show just that week, as my other half had Sky+ it for me. I had watched in awe for the umpteenth time at how incredible he was. It wasn’t an accident that most of the former Lizzy guitarists had been on stage with him that show and none had measured up to Gary.

He was and always will be a guitarists guitarist. Someone who had a  complete mastery of the instrument from Blues, to Jazz fusion to Rock to Pop, forays in to Drum and Bass. Often over shadowed by his amazing guitar skill was the fact that he had written some superb songs. You can play guitar amazingly well but if your material sucks no one will want to listen. Many a virtuoso guitarist has fallen into this trap. There are many tunes you could select to show the man at his best, YouTube is awash with them. I shall select a few here and then let you explore further

I could go on forever about Gary Moore, but for now can I just say

Thank you so much for being my inspiration, my hero and the catalyst for my working life. You leave behind a body of work that is testament to your immense talent and hopefully an inspiration to millions for time to come as to how guitars can and should sound. You will be sorely missed. RIP.

Gary Moore 1952-2011

3 years have passed.
He’s still a massive loss, he still lives in how I play.

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~ by Geoff Lea Guitar on February 7, 2011.

2 Responses to “Goodbye to my Hero.”

  1. awesome tribute to the greatest rock/blues guitarist that ever graced the planet.even though i don’t play i love great music that moves me and his playing moved me more than anybody.i have everything from his skid row days to grinding stone to bad for you baby and hopefully we’ll get one more that he was working on.i haven’t been the same since i heard the news,between shock and tears and just listening to him to cope with it.listening does bring a smile on the inside ,though.i’m in the US and he never got the recognition he desreves here,even though i have friends that love him.i’d kill to get them videos you are talking about.i do have ‘Live at Montreaux” and “One Night in Dublin’ but didn’t know all these other’s existed.thank you for this site.i needed somewhere to vent my feelings about his passing and this has really helped me along with all the words coming from all the other famous musicians,thank you.R.I.P. GARY MOORE, you will surely be missed and the music world will never be the same!!!!!!somewhere there’s a lonely les paul guitar that may not get to cry forever again.please reply it would sure make me feel better!!!

  2. Reblogged this on Geoffleaguitar's Blog and commented:

    3 years, still a massive loss.

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