The first thing I knew about Gary Moore was the album After the War (from 1989) - specifically the title song. I heard it while watching some recorded TV programme; it had been a late-night TV ad caught by the VCR. Just a snippet - and I was hooked. I wanted to hear more.
Some months on, maybe a full year, the Still Got the Blues album was doing the rounds - again on the back of the title song. My introduction to the blues had been the Blues Brothers movie - and some of my mum's vinyl purchases, anything from Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf through to Robert Cray's Bad Influence. I was beginning to develop my own tastes, beginning to understand blues and where it had got to - so Still Got the Blues was one of my favourite albums for a time.
I followed Moore's career from there and went back to, well, before The War; back to Wild Frontier (1987) and back to Back on the Streets (1979). We didn't have Wikipedia back then but my Uncle Lindsay told me about Moore's connection with Thin Lizzy - and I had liked what I'd heard of them. I then found out he was part of Skid Row too; just not this Skid Row.
But it was Still Got the Blues that held my fascination early on, I was 13 and it was nice to have my own version of white-guy blues to cling to. My folks had their Cream of Eric Clapton vinyl (which I loved, sure; a gateway LP - as well as a gatefold) but I felt like I discovered Still Got the Blues; hunted it out for myself. That was special.
And there was some great playing on the album - George Harrison contributed slide guitar to That Kind of Woman (it made me appreciate George's slide playing, I went back through The Beatles' albums and his solo work to hear further evidence). I remember reading an article from - probably Guitar World - around the time. Apparently Harrison and Moore were neighbours, had bumped into one another and decided to have a jam.
Albert Collins was, I think, a new name to me when I heard him on Still Got The Blues, Albert King was not - but it was a chance to hear him again and to find more material from there. B.B. King appeared on the follow-up; Moore rescuing him from those other Irish guys!
Gary Moore wasn't trying to reinvent the blues - he was paying tribute to the form: to the songs he'd heard, been influenced by; to the players who had inspired him. He had turned the early blues influence into some stunning rock material and with his return to the blues (his tribute to the blues) he was taking that rock approach and creating a different feel.
I also like that he flew the flag - vehemently - for Peter Green. As a Fleetwood Mac fanatic I already knew who Green was (I loved his playing and was fascinated by his story) but Moore was passionate about promoting one of his guitar heroes; it was endearing - it felt real, nothing phoned in or phony.
Moore stepped out from his solo career to record with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker forming BBM and releasing Around the Next Dream. I liked this album. I was obsessed with Cream - sure, so Moore was (essentially) subbing for Eric Clapton but he did a decent job of it. The album featured some Moore original material as well as Bruce's songs.
From there it was back to the blues, back to rock, off to a group called Scars (that didn't really work, even though the one album from 2002 was strong) and then back to solo material. It was, largely, diminishing returns for Moore as a solo artist.
Still Got the Blues was his biggest seller and its follow-up After Hours was, arguably, a better album - his touch refined, his audience defined.
But for most people it is the rock material that holds the most weight - the blues material, however well-meaning, has a trace-around sound to it; it has not dated well.
Go back to Moore playing with Thin Lizzy though, go back to After the War or Parisienne Walkways - you'll hear a rock guitarist perfectly combining ideas and emotion. Blazing technique was never the main reason to play for Moore: he made sure he had something to say with his guitar.
I had thought, late last year, of writing about Still Got the Blues as a gateway LP for me, a record that I no longer play but that introduced other music that I have fond memories of. But I didn't.
And now I mention it three days after hearing that Gary Moore, aged 58, was found dead in a hotel room.
Twenty years ago his music meant so much to me. He, along with Robert Cray and Stevie Ray Vaughan, set me down a path. That's something I can't forget. It was important to me as it was music I shared with my parents: they had introduced me to so much, and this was the start of me finding music that I knew they would enjoy too. Music we could share. That's of less interest to me now, but at 13 I was happy for some (musical) harmony at home, if it meant I got to choose half the music for car trips.
And I thought about that when I read the news on Monday morning. Now, a few days on, I've had a scroll through YouTube and reminded myself of some favourites.
So what did you think of Gary Moore's playing? Were you a fan of him as rock guitarist or blues act? Or both? Did you follow him through his career - or were you more interested in a specific period? What were your favourite albums/bands/tracks featuring Moore?
Share your memories, your feelings on the passing of Gary Moore. Presumably he is now out in the fields with Phil Lynott...tearing out new riffs and melodies...
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