Rory Gallagher’s 1961 Stratocaster
I like to think that instruments have stories to tell. I think if you listened to guitars from Hendrix or Lennon, Dylan or Clapton – you might hear those tales. I’d really like to know the stories behind this guitar. This Strat is battered and worn and has seen some things, I’m sure.
Do you think instruments have stories to tell? What can we gather from holding and playing them?
I’m reminded of a film I loved called The Red Violin. I’ve written about it before here. The central instrument, this “red violin” weaves in and out of history and globe trots until it ends up in a modern auction house. There is intense bidder interest because of the provenance of the instrument, and the entire film is tied together by this one instrument.
About Rory Gallagher
William Rory Gallagher – 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995 – was an Irish blues and rock multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and bandleader. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and brought up in Cork, Gallagher recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s, after forming the band Taste during the late 1960s.
He was a talented guitarist known for his charismatic performances and dedication to his craft. Gallagher’s albums have sold in excess of 30 million copies worldwide. Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that year in London, UK at the age of 47.
Gallagher was always associated with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster (Serial Number 64351), which his brother Dónal officially retired.
It was reputedly the first in Ireland, and was ordered from Fender by Jim Connolly, a showband member performing with The Irish Showband. Connolly ordered a cherry red Stratocaster through Crowley’s music shop in Cork in 1961. When Fender shipped a sunburst Stratocaster instead, it was put up on sale in 1963 as a second-hand instrument, which Gallagher bought in August 1963 for just shy of £100 at Crowley’s Music Store on Cork’s McCurtain Street.
Speaking about Gallagher’s purchase of the famous Stratocaster his brother Dónal recalled: “His dream ambition was to have a guitar like Buddy Holly… This Stratocaster was in the store as a used instrument, it was 100 pounds… in today’s money you couldn’t even compare you might as well say it was a million pounds… my mother was saying we’ll be in debt for the rest of our lives and Rory said well actually with a guitar like this I can play both parts, rhythm and lead, we won’t need a rhythm player so I can earn more money and pay it off so the Stratocaster became his partner for life if you like.
Many modern day musicians, including The Edge from U2, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Davy Knowles, Janick Gers of Iron Maiden, James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, cite Gallagher as an inspiration in their formative musical years.
Rory Gallagher : A Million Miles Away
Rory Gallagher – Do You Read Me
Rory Gallagher – Bad Penny
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