Saturday, February 19, 2011

Playlist: February 2011

Here's what's been in rotation this month:

  • The entire Gary Moore catalog, in chronological order
  • PJ Harvey—Let England Shake
  • Radiohead — The King of Limbs
  • Tame Impala—Innerspeaker
  • John Hiatt—Bring the Family
  • Paul Simon—So Beautiful or So What
  • Shearwater—Enron
  • The Czars—Ugly People vs. Beautiful People
  • Greg Allman—Low Country Blues
  • The Black Keys—Brothers
  • David Sylvian—Gone to Earth
  • Low—I Could Live in Hope
  • Dennis Wilson—Pacific Ocean Blue
  • Vertical Horizon—Burning the Days
  • Susumu Yokota—Kaleidoscope
  • Iron & Wine—Kiss Each Other Clean
  • YES—Union Live
  • Robert Wyatt—Schleep
  • 05ric—Bubbleburst EP
A few words about some of the albums...

It's only February but there won't be many better albums than PJ HARVEY's Let England Shake in 2011. Musically, the album picks up where White Chalk left off -- PJ once again sings mostly in a high register rather than in her low-end voice -- but this record adds more vibrant textures and brighter colors. One or two songs, such as "Written on the Forehead," almost sound Cocteau Twins-ish. Beautiful melodies from start to finish.

It's a concept album about the toll of war on England and its identity. For this record, Polly Jean wrote all the lyrics before she wrote a note of music and so its full of startling imagery. On "All and Everyone," a song about the battle of Gallipoli, for instance, she sings:

Death Hung in the smoke and clung
to 400 acres of useless beachfront
now, and now, and now.
Death was everywhere,
in the air
and in the sounds
coming off the mounds
of Bolton's Ridge.
Death's anchorage.
Death was in the staring sun,
fixing its eyes on everyone.
It rattled the bones of the Light Horsemen
still lying out there in the open

Simply, it's her best work and a consistently exhilarating listen.

I'm very excited by TAME IMPALA, a new psych-prog band from Australia. Strong melodies and immense grooves. They're just about the only band in the world who can claim to have been interviewed by Classic Rock Presents Prog as well as Under the Radar, an indie music magazine I write for.

The new RADIOHEAD album isn't a top-tier album like The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, and In Rainbows. It lacks the grandeur, thrust, and ambition of those albums. The King of Limbs feels like a lesser work but it is nevertheless a more cohesive album than Hail to the Thief and Amnesiac. These 8 new tracks are beautiful. In fact, this record arguably boasts Thom Yorke's best vocal performances to date. As with any Radiohead record, it's richly textured and demands attentive listening.

PAUL SIMON's last album, Surprise (produced by Brian Eno), boasted one or two cracking tunes, but his new album, So Beautiful or So What (out in April), is his best since Graceland. Once again, he has included African influences in these acoustic-based songs but they're West African sounds such as the kora rather than South African township pop. On this record he reminds me what a great lyricist he is, creating deft character sketches and offering wry wit throughout. It is odd, though, to hear him reference Jay Z!

I am hugely enjoying GREGG ALLMAN's new solo record, Low Country Blues (Rounder). I've had zero expectations beforehand but it's been on constant rotation in this household these past few days.

It's a pure blues album produced by T Bone Burnett (yes, him again) and, apart from one new song co-written by Greg and Warren Haynes, the album consists of cover versions by the likes of Muddy Waters, BB King, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Skip James and Magic Sam. The production style is richly atmospheric. T Bone's regular go-to players, drummer Jay Bellerose and bassist Dennis Crouch (both of whom you may have heard on albums such as Plant & Krauss' Raising Sand and Sahara Smith's Myth of the Heart) provide rich texture and finger-clicking swing in the rhythm department. and T Bone Burnett swaps guitar licks with Doyle Bramhall II. There's even horns on one or two tracks. And the in-house pianist on the record is one Mac Rebennack. Indeed, Dr. John lays down an amazingly catchy, yet subtle, piano riff on the final track, "Rolling Stone."

Gregg's voice still sounds wonderfully soulful despite the fact that his vocal chords have probably been marinated in Jack Daniels these past few decades! While the album does feature some of Gregg's signature B3 organ licks, the record sounds nothing like an Allman Bros. album. It's very much its own sound.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Gary Moore: Musicians pay tribute

Preliminary results from a post-mortem examination indicate that Gary Moore died from a heart attack in his sleep. Still can't believe this has happened.

An official statement on Gary's website says that the guitarist had been due to record a new album in the studio just before he died. It had been thought that Gary had one more blues album already in the can but no one knows for sure. A blues record was scheduled to come out last year but was pushed back to fall of this year, presumably to allow Gary to focus on his return to Celtic Rock. He had been working on a Celtic Rock project. Indeed, Gary did a tour last year in which he returned his Celtic rock stuff (plus one or two blues numbers), including three brand new songs in the the vein of his Wild Frontier ouevre. They will be included on a live CD + DVD of a 2010 Montreux Festival concert that had already been scheduled for release in April. The three new songs -- "Where Are You Now?," "Days of Heroes," "Oh Wild One" (a song about Phil Lynott) -- are very good, judging from the bootlegs I've heard. Here's the presumed tack list for the live album:

Over The Hills And Far Away
Thunder Rising
Military Man
Days Of Heroes
Where Are You Now?
So Far Away / Empty Rooms
Oh Wild One
Blood Of Emeralds
Out In The Fields
Still Got The Blues
Walking By Myself
Johnny Boy (Encore 1)
Parisienne Walkways

It's unclear how much of the Celtic-rock studio album had been recorded. Doubtless, there will also be posthumous release of stuff left on the shelf, too.

I wrote an in-depth biographical tribute in my previous blog entry. Since then, I have been compiling all the tributes that have been pouring in from fellow musicians and guitarists, beginning with this inspiring piece by Kirk Hammett:


Gary Moore is definitely in my list of top five guitar influences, right up with Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Michael Schenker. His influence is strong to the point that the opening lick of the guitar solo of “Master of Puppets” is a variation of a lick that Gary Moore played a lot. I remember the first time hearing his blues album and just getting totally blown away – not only by the playing but by the sound of it too, his tone. And I remember being so inspired that I wrote a couple riffs just based on his sound and his feel. And those riffs ended up in "The Unforgiven" on The Black Album.

I first heard of him in the late 1970s. I was a big Thin Lizzy fan then. I had seen them on the Dangerous tour and not long afterwards I heard there was a new album out called Black Rose. I heard "Waiting For An Alibi" on a college radio station and I was amazed because I instantly knew that they had a different guitar player. That was not Brian Robertson playing or Scott Gorham playing that guitar solo. It was…something else. I went to the record story and picking up Black Rose, looked at the cover, turned it over and saw a guitar player named Gary Moore.

He just blew me away from the first time I heard him. It was like Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan. He had a very distinct sound and a very distinct way of approaching his guitar playing. Soon after that he came out with G-Force, which is a heavy rock band. There was this one instrumental track on the [first G-Force] album that just totally blew me away, and at that point I just made a conscious decision to make him a part of my regular listening.

Gary was also a big influence on me visually. Every time I saw a picture of him and he was playing a solo the expression on his face conveyed that he was feeling it deep. I remember seeing a picture of him on stage with Thin Lizzy in a guitar solo, obviously, with him bent back. He’s playing the Gibson Les Paul gold top, and he’s bending the shit out of this one string and he has that expression on his face. I just thought, "Wow." I mean that must have been a really intense moment right there because it looks so rock and roll, and so cool and so lead guitar-ish.

His sound was not over-processed. It was very, very basic. It basically was a guitar, an amp, a fuzz box and his hands. I remember seeing him in Copenhagen in 1984 or 1985. We were recording Master of Puppets. He was playing a Strat, which is known for a clear, somewhat thin sound. But the sound he was getting out of that Strat was so thick and so full and just so raw. This was before you had all these guitar processors that could make the cheapest guitar sound like the most expensive guitar, so I kinda deduced that most of the sound was in his hands.

Gary's technique was very modern, but his guitar style was very blues-based. His phrasing was very, very blues-based. He played long, sustained notes coupled with really super fast-picked notes and he had a great legato style. His approach embodied everything that I was trying to do. I spent a lot of time listening to Gary Moore after playing shows, going back to my hotel room and just putting on Gary Moore albums or watching Gary Moore videos.

The reason why he wasn’t more popular here in America is beyond me because he was incredible. He was peers with like George Harrison, and he was peers with Albert King and he was peers with B.B. King. He was just an amazing player, and he could hang with almost anyone. Let’s say, for instance, he was in White Snake. I’m sure he would have gotten a lot more recognition than he did.

I met him for the first time a year and a half ago. I was in a hotel room in Germany and I was going to the gym. I got into the elevator on the fifth floor and the elevator stopped on the fourth floor and in comes Gary Moore. I just couldn't believe it. I introduced myself and had a chance to tell him how much of an influence he was on me. I was a little intimidated because I heard at one point that he was really mad at a contemporary guitar player for ripping him off. He couldn't have been more gracious to me though, and in retrospect I'm very glad I had the opportunity.


"Surely not...This seems completely unreal. I'm shocked to hear tonight that Gary Moore has died. What a wonderful player he was. It does not seem possible this is in the past. Well, his recordings will testify forever. But ... live ... he was a demon. I know, because we toured with Thin Lizzy all around the States, many years ago. Gary was awesome every night ... and the nicest guy you could imagine.
I have many memories - of visiting him in the studio, meeting him backstage, being staggered by his virtuosity in his solo gigs. Well, lost for words. Bless ya Gary, wherever you're bound. To Rock Heaven, I hope. 58? You were just a boy. Unbelievable. This is too sad. RIP Gary Moore. Brian"


"I still can't believe it," Bell told the BBC. "He was so robust, he wasn't a rock casualty, he was a healthy guy. He was a superb player and a dedicated musician."


"Playing with Gary during the Black Rose era was a great experience, he was a great player and a great guy. I will miss him."

NEIL CARTER (Gary's keyboardist 1984-1989 and in 2010)

I cannot quite believe that Gary Moore has passed away today. He was a huge part of my working life and a close friend. His brilliance as a musician will last forever in his recorded work and in the hearts of his fans. It has been a privelidge to have known and worked alongside him.

My deepest sympathies go to his children and family. Neil

DARRIN MOONEY (Gary's off-on drummer, 2000-2011, Primal Scream)

"I am still stunned by the awful news of Garys death. I fell very honoured to have played on many albums and gigs over the years with Gary and to have been involved with the last gigs in Russia, we really had a great time and couldn't wait to record a new celtic album and get out there again. Gary is the finest musician I have ever played with and I think he is one of the great guitar heroes of all time. Working with Gary was a real eye-opener for me because he never played half hearted. Every rehearsel I did with him was like a full on gig,you had to have your shit together because Gary didn't make mistakes, he would be firing on all cylinders and taking no prisoners. Amazing!!! Gary was extremely gifted and worked very hard practicing and evolving which was also inspiring and which made him a cut above the rest. Gary has been a big part of my musical journey and I will never forget that and will miss him dearly. I hope Jimi was waiting for him, he would have loved that."

BOB DAISLEY (Gary's bassist 1984-1990, Ozzy Osbourne, etc.)

It is with great sadness that I acknowledge Gary Moore in this way. His passing has come as a sad and terrible shock and I have difficulty believing that he’s gone. I have many fond memories of our years together, both in the workplace of music and as friends. I have love and respect for Gary as a musician and as a person, he was one of the greatest. Farewell and rest in peace Gary my friend.
Bob Daisley.


"I am in total shock. I have known Gary since 1967 when he was in PLATFORM THREE and he's been an amazing friend ever since. It was a pleasure to play with Gary again in 2006 after his days with LIZZY. He will always be in my thoughts and prayers and I just can't believe he is gone."


I had some sad news last night as I was in the hotel here in Amsterdam. We found out that Gary Moore has passed away. I was lucky enough to meet Gary and some members of his family, including his son a couple of years ago at an Elbow concert. It was bad news, indeed. Obviously an amazing guitarist and a lovely man, too. It was great to meet him. It was very flattering that he came to hear us play. The great story about Mark Potter of Elbow meeting Gary was that, afterwards, Mark blushingly admitted that in his flustered, post-gig conversation with Gary, somewhere in that conversation he told Gary Moore that he didn't like guitar solos! Absolutely brilliant one from Pott there! All my love to his family. A great loss to music. A lovely man.


Dear blues fans: I am saddened by the news of the death of the great Irish blues guitarist Gary Moore. Touring and recording with Gary was a highlight of my career. I will not forget his generosity and all that he did for me. Sincerely, Otis

VIVIAN CAMPBELL (Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, DIO)

"Another of my guitar heroes died today; first Marc Bolan, then Rory Gallagher, now Gary Moore. It'll be strange playing 'Still in love with you' tonight."

At one stage in my life he was a huge guitar influence. I probably ripped off Gary Moore more than any other guitar player. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I was a fan, certainly in my teenage years.

“I was really, really impressed with the roads he was forging in the blues world.”


Truly shocked and terribly saddened by the news. Our thoughts are with Gary Moore's family, friends and all of his fans. What a sad loss.


Hey Everybody,
It pains me to write this but the great Gary Moore has passed away. He was one of my premier inspirations in guitar playing. Like all young lads in the early 90's I was given a copy of Still Got the Blues. It blew me away.. His tone a phrasing were perfect. Gary opened up the door for me and a lot of other blues rock guitarist. He was a legend, a musical titan and a very nice man. I only met him twice and he always joked around with me how my records changed style from one song to the next. He also.. said that he enjoyed my work and congratulated me on the success I was having. He was a class act and a true original.. Ireland has lost another of its most talented sons today.. I am still a bit in shock so .. I apologize if my words are not as eloquent as they should be.. I have brought out the "Gary Moore" les paul... ( i named one of my guitars after him) and have been playing his stuff today..
Rest in peace.. GM


I had the pleasure of meeting Gary when he was playing with Thin Lizzy, back in the late 70's early 80's, I think it was. We played a few shows with the guys, and I wondered who this great guitarist was. I remember having a beer somewhere in a bar while on the tour, and speaking briefly with him. He was a gentle soul, and quietly friendly while we hung out together. A few years later, I started really listening to Gary's music, and became a huge fan. I would venture to say that, in my humble opinion, he was one of the greatest blues players of our time. And a tremendous all around musician in general. Great voice, killer licks and tone, and he really could play any kind of music. It's obvious to us, his fans, that his heart belonged to the blues, but he rocked with a vengeance, and he could sing a gentle ballad with all the feeling one might hope for. It's funny, but I was just thinking about him the other day, and hoping I would have a chance to see him play somewhere soon. Now he's jamming with the immortals, and I'll have to wait awhile longer. He left us all the gift of an amazing amount of fantastic recorded material, and I feel so lucky to have that to remember him. I'm going now to put on the DVD of his live show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1990. I recommend this to anyone who loves Gary, or wants to see this great artist at his best. We'll all miss him, but his music lives on for us, and we'll keep him in our hearts. Thank you Gary for keeping the flame burning.


"I was very saddened to hear the news of Gary 's death. We toured together in the 80s and I remember him as a soft spoken, gentle man with a quick smile. His influence as a guitarist is undeniable and his purity of playing and passion will live on in all of us who love the instrument he so cherished.

We were connected in a number of ways historically, ’cause we worked a lot with Thin Lizzy in the early days, too. But Gary had already left the band at that time, for the first time, but we were well aware of Gary’s playing and his influence on the scene, particularly in Britain at the time. And in the early ’80s, he came on tour with us. And I think… I want to say we probably did two runs together. And my recollection of him is that he was a very sweet, gentle guy – quick to smile and really a lot of fun to be with, but so absolutely passionate about the instrument and about playing.

And it’s really sad to see somebody like him go at a young age – it really is a young age. You know, he was the type of guy that [you thought] would be around forever and ever, playing like Les Paul, for example. You would always be able to go see Gary play in some little club or something, you know, in downtown New York or London, Soho… Ronnie [Scott’s] or something like that. It’s really a shame."

ZAKK WYLDE (via Twitter)

Sad,Father Moore could throw down like Nobodies Business!!!n a GREAT PERSON!THROWING DOWN IN GODS TAVERN!!! ✞TBLO✞ Never Jammed w/Gary but Met him n told him how much I Loved his playing... Super Cool guy✞TBLO✞


"I was very saddened to hear of the passing of one of the greatest guitarists of all time — Gary Moore. His 'Still Got The Blues' album was one of the great albums, certainly one of my favorites. His way of playing cannot be learned — it comes from the soul.

"R.I.P., Gary."


"Super Bowl Sunday, and I find this news.... simply terrible. This hits me as hard as Ronnie Dio's passing.

"About ten years ago, I was starting to make the jump from bass to guitar... and was lacking some inspiration. While working on some PAGAN WAR MACHINE recordings, I was shown some live video of Gary Moore, and quite simply it changed my life. Instead of the shreddy, arpeggio swepping whammy bar guys that dominate the thrash scene, here was a guy who played bluesy hard rock — who could hold a note for what seemed like forever ('Parisienne Walkways') that would bring tears to your eyes. From there I discovered his whole career... blues, prog, whatever, he did it better than most.

"It is not a stretch to say that if not for Gary Moore, that first ANGER AS ART album never would have been done. Unashamedly I admit to ripping off his technique for that whole record.

"Gary, I hope Phil [Lynott, late THIN LIZZY legend] was there to greet you. You guys have some time now... Go find Cozy [Powell], and we expect that you have a few records worth of material for us by the time we join you.

"Rest in peace, Gazza!"

"I hope you may rest in peace, Gary, and thanks for all the songs I just love!"


"Axl Rose will say that without Thin Lizzy you don't get Guns N' Roses, and that whole idea of rock and roll, and Gary was sort of fundamental in developing that twin-guitar, lyrical thing like on Parisian Walkway. But really you didn't have to cut the skin hard to find just a great, great blues player, and absolutely one of the best."

"One of the greatest blues players of all time. Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore - the glorious trinity of the Irish blues men. His playing was exceptional and beautiful. We won't see his like again."


Gary Moore had amazing tone, and passion in his guitar playing. A monster of a guitarist. He will be missed.


On the last date of our tour a couple of months ago, Gary was playing on Roger's [Glovers] MP3 player backstage through an amplified speaker. It was Gary and our Don Airey, I think, playing with Colosseum II. They sounded great, of course. Don always spoke fondly of his playing, and I'm a fan as well. His playing was lively, energetic, but tasteful at the same time. I never knew him but all of us in Purple were shocked at the loss.

TANK (Mick Tucker and Cliff Evans)

Mick: "I am totally shocked at this news. It's a great loss. He was one of the best guitar players on the planet and will be missed by the whole world. So sad. Respect to a great musician."

Cliff: "Gary Moore was the guitarist that other guitar heroes looked up to. He was the master of many styles of playing and a genuinely nice person who always remained approachable throughout his career. He is one of the main reasons why I picked up a guitar all those years ago and his playing still inspires me to the same degree today. A great, great loss. R.I.P., Gary Moore."


"I'm devastated to hear about Gary Moore... much love & respect to his children. He will be sorely missed."


Henry Rollins told The Hollywood Reporter that Moore's death was "a big loss."

"He was too young to go," Rollins said.

Rollins not only praised Moore's work with Thin Lizzy ("those Lizzy recordings with Moore were as good as it gets"), but also his individual projects.

"His solo records were rocking," Rollins said.


“I’m devastated to hear of Gary’s passing. A truly great British rock and blues hero. I shared many wonderful musical and personal experiences with him.

“He was a ferocious player, and had no fear of his instrument. I’m glad that Gary and I got to mend our relationship. Rest In Peace.”

GUS G (guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne)

"I'm very saddened by Gary Moore's passing. We've lost one of the greats. His guitar style has heavily influenced me and I was lucky enough to see him live when he played in Greece for the first time back in 2008.

"I don't think I've ever heard more soulful playing and tone than Gary's. As one of your biggest fans, thank you for the great music you gave us. Gary Moore. RIP."

TREVOR RABIN (YES, soundtrack composer)

"I'd like to say how sad I am to hear of Gary Moore's passing. He was a wonderful player and I'll miss him ... Rest in peace Gary. "


"Brilliant guitarist, not the most household name but one who didn't need trends, gimmicks or image, just pure tone and soul."


"Once again, the world has lost a unique voice, a major talent. If it wasn't for Gary Moore, my life would have been very different.Three guys — Gary, Randy Rhoads and Michael Schenker — guided my decision to play guitar no matter what happened. I discovered Uli [Jon Roth] after I had already made that decision.
I remember the first time I heard Gary. I bought 'Corridors Of Power' one night just as the record store was closing. The next morning I put it on the turntable while I was getting ready for school. The first notes of 'Falling In Love With You' came on while I was brushing my teeth, and I'll remember that moment forever — just a few simple notes, but with the power of the Gods behind them. It changed my life.
Every time I record something, I compare it to Uli, Schenker, Randy and Gary, and I ask myself, "Is it as good as your heroes?' So far, I haven't even come close.
God bless Gary Moore, may he rest in peace."


"On Sunday it was very sad to read that Gary Moore had died. I was most upset, as I have known Gary for many years, and he is a wonderful guitarist and friend. He will be sadly missed, but he leaves us with a wonderful legacy of music, and my heart goes out to his family. Rest in peace, my friend!"


"Nobody ever played with more emotion than Gary Moore. He played with unmatched soul and melody. But he was also by far, the most ferocious, fearless and intense player I ever heard. No question. His playing made a huge impact on me. R.I.P. Gary. Thank you for your amazing music and inspiration."


"Our condolences to the family of Gary Moore — one of the greatest guitar players ever. A very sad loss for the music world. His playing will inspire generations to come. God bless. Love and respect."


"Growing up in the '80s in Sweden, you couldn't avoid Gary Moore. His Celtic hard-rock material of that era was massively popular here.

"As a guitar player, he had a huge influence on the European scene, and certainly on myself. America had Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen; we had Gary Moore and Michael Schenker!

"There are so many Gary Moore-isms in ARCH ENEMY's music… and that is something we are very proud of!

"Thank you for the music.

"R.I.P., Gary."

NEAL SCHON (JOURNEY) in facebook:

RIP Gary Moore + video still got the blues + Cry guitar, cry..


I did many dates with Gary Moore when we were coming up together in England. He always stood out as an "A” division guitarist and the nicest guy.


Watched Gary Moore on a Phil L tribute concert tonight on TV. Double hit! "Don't Believe a Word", cracked, emotions. A horde of festivals together, picked up his award in NYC for his brilliant Planet Rock Show and saw him last in Sweden in 2009. Cantankerous, moody, private wonderful, enclosed deep, soulful immensely talented man who was a pure natural gifted musician and one of Ireland's finest. We lose another beacon.


"Man, I can't believe it was 24 years ago I saw Gary Moore for the first time. One word says it all today... shocked!! Gary Moore left us far too soon. He just played an amazing hard rock set last year and many of us were pleased he might have been doing that again so we could see it once again.

Gary did things with a guitar that most guitar players can only dream about. His music in regards to THIN LIZZY or his later solo efforts with Phil [Lynott] and Glenn Hughes should be known as some of the best hard rock ever made. From 'Empty Rooms' to 'Over The Hills', it is with a huge loss that this legend is now gone. He might be gone now but his music will forever speak to us! Crank it to 11, Moore! Phil and a few friends are waiting to jam!"

JAMES DEPRATO (Guitarist for Chuck Prophet, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Haynes, Glenn Hughes)

In the late ’80s, I was a budding young shredder being dropped off at my weekly guitar lesson at Tril Music in Riverside, California. I was about 11 years old at the time, aspiring to be the next legend of the pointy headstock guitar while my parents desperately tried to steer me toward the more blues-based, classic rock and roll they loved: Cream, The Allman Bros…

I was hopeless until one day in 1990 when we showed up at Tril Music for my weekly lesson and heard a brand new track being played over the loudspeakers at the store. The song was "Still Got the Blues" by Gary Moore. A real nice tune at first listen. Mom thought it was Robert Cray singing (which was Mom and Dad music to me at the time). Then Gary leans into that first solo. I heard the searing Les Paul/Marshall combo that was familiar from my stack of metal records at home (and let’s face it, in 1990, if you were playing a Les Paul through a Marshall stack, you weren't playing mom and dad music). That solo had every ounce of bad attitude, fiery tone, wild vibrato 1990 had to offer. But something was different, it also had soul and complete vocabulary of blues licks that mom instantly recognized. Not to mention how well-written and sung that track was. My guitar teacher told me we were listening to "Still got the Blues" by Gary Moore. Said he used to be in Thin Lizzy, and that he was singing and playing the solos on that track. Mom swung me through Sam Goody on the way home and we bought a copy of Still Got the Blues.

That record is filled with wild and soulful guitar playing and singing, and I had never heard anything like it at the time. Gary Moore introduced me to the bluesmen he admired. The record features guest spots from Albert King and Albert Collins. Even George Harrison goes toe-to-toe with Gary Moore on "That Kind of Woman." From that day forward, the blues was alright.

Gary Moore is gone. Hard to imagine. I'm still numb this morning thinking about it. A major loss—a blow to the guitar-playing community, for sure.

Gone before your time. Gary, you will be sorely missed. And for the record, if you're done with that old Les Paul that Peter Green gave you, I think I could shine it up for you.


"Gary Moore gave a lifetime of music to the world; [he was] such a great guitarist. He was like the rock guitarist, the guy that had the best of everything in his playing — and that could only come from having the best of everything in his heart.

"To his family, you have my deepest sympathies, the love and support of millions of fans, all wishing you strength in this difficult time."


We are devastated to hear about the passing of Gary Moore. Both myself and Fredrik are massive fans of his, and we've been listening to his music since we're kids. He was such a integral part of our musical upbringing, so it's with great sadness we have to try and accept these horrible news. One of the very best hard rock lead guitar players EVER! We love you Gary, rest in peace.

Mikael on behalf of Fredrik and Opeth.


"Just heard the very sad news that Gary Moore has passed away. The Belfast-born guitar legend was a big inspiration for myself growing up in Northern Ireland, both for his work with THIN LIZZY and his very successful solo career. We had the pleasure of meeting Gary and his band last summer at the Pinkpop Classic festival in Holland. After watching their (killer) show, we were introduced and Gary came over to our dressing room and chatted away to us. He was everything you'd want a hero to be… laid back, modest and very genuine, with a cool sense of humour. "


“The first time I heard him play was on the first Skid Row album. I remember on the record sleeve it said, ‘Gary Moore - 17 years old - lead guitar’ and, even back then, he was amazing. I loved Colosseum II and then, of course, his work with Thin Lizzy. Black Rose was just incredible. His sense for melodies reminded me of Jeff Beck; he had superior technique, melody and feel and knew where to play a lot and where not to play. His later work turned on a whole new generation to the blues. It is very sad to see him pass at a way-too-young age. I will miss him.”

SLASH (via Twitter)

Gary Moore. One of the greatest British Rock & Roll guitarists. There will never be another Gary Moore. Sad times.


"I knew Gary Moore for what seemed like forever. We'd run into each other many times over the years and we were always able to pick up right where we left off.

"I had the honor of recording with Gary on his 'After The War' album on the track 'Led Clones' which was great fun.

"To say that his death is a tragic loss doesn't seem to give it the justice it deserves. We've lost a phenomenal musician and a great friend.

"Rest in peace, Gary."


“It was my wife who told me the news. It’s terrible: 58 is just too early. In Phil [Lynott]’s case it was tragic, and in Gary’s case there should have been a lot more years.

“I have great memories of Gary on tour in Thin Lizzy with Queen: always smiling, very cheerful and… too young to die. He’d recently joined Lizzy and he fitted in great: a blindingly fast player, and his thing was these staccato runs, with a bit of jazz in there. Totally different to Brian [May], who’s a very fluid player, but musicians usually ‘get’ other rated musicians, and Brian very much enjoyed his playing.

“Over the years, I’d see Gary out in the clubs: a great guy on the scene. He liked to drink, as I remember, but everybody did in those days. It’s very sad. But I think his music will live on. Virtuosity is something we really don’t have now: there are lots of great bands, but the emphasis just isn’t on that anymore. In those days, it was all about how great you were; there were so many virtuosos and he was definitely one of them. He was a star player.”


I had the pleasure of Jamming with Gary Moore when the Paul Rodgers band played the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago. Great player, very fast, but clean. He will be missed.


Paul Rodgers has posted the following statement online regarding the passing of legendary guitarist Gary Moore:

"Gary was a friend and a truly great man. I respect that he played the game his way... no time for B.S. He was focused and passionate about music and was one of the best.

"The last time that I jammed with Gary, he came on as my special guest at London's Royal Albert Hall and proceeded to take it to another level... the place imploded! When he played, he was a man on fire.

"If there hadn't been an ocean between us and Gary didn't mind flying, we absolutely would have created more together.

"We've lost a great British blues man and I am very, very sad."


"I am deeply shocked and saddened about Gary's passing. He was truly one of the great guitarists, had a huge talent, and was a musical force beyond par. I am a fan."


"A super guitarist and, for me, a man who has given me wonderful songs to listen to and dance my first slow dances to, has been found dead early this morning in Spain.

"He was so young still, just 58 years old and it's just a big loss for music.

"NIGHTWISH has recorded one of his songs as a cover — 'Over The Hills And Far Away' — a great song he made.


It's always sad to hear of the death of a fellow musician, but especially so when it's a guitarist of the calibre of Gary Moore. A great sound, fabulous vibrato and an exceptional singer.
Although I never met the man personally I had the good fortune to work sometimes with Graham Lilley, Gary's guitar tech.
It's also extraordinary to think that Gary 'inherited' Peter Green's Les Paul. Two legends and men of magic, both wielding the same axe, like King Arthur's sword slicing through endless beautiful configurations. Words are not enough. I'm sure so many of us have still got the blues for Gary...


"Gary Moore was one of the greats. He had his roots in the blues and the power of rock, which is a brilliant combination.

"I have played with some of the best guitarists in the business, and when asked if wanted to do a project with someone else, I always said, 'Gary Moore.'

"Maybe it's little known, but I am a guitarist myself. I became a singer by pure accident. So I can really appreciate Gary's playing from a musician's point of view. He was an amazing talent and let's not forget his voice, which was pure and honest like his playing.

"I had the great fortune to meet Gary while in Denmark during the RAINBOW days. He was a great guy and very down to earth, which is impressive, to say the least.

"We shall greatly miss him for he was an original who stood out from the rest.

"I send my sympathies to his family and friends and to the rock world who is truly saddened by this loss.

"RIP, Gary."


Gary Moore was a guitarist's guitarist. He not only had a faithful following of fans who loved his music he also inspired many professional guitarists with his brilliant technique and command of several musical styles. For me, listening to his playing was a wonderful musical experience and a master class of playing technique. We have lost another musical giant. He will be missed but not forgotten. RIP Gary.


Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, Gary Moore stands out as one of the greatest guitarists, ever, who was able to combine rock and blues; high energy and melody; tone and taste, emotion and style. I would say the same about his extraordinary vocals, which made him such a complete artist with deep integrity. He's a true legend in every sense of the word, and his music will live forever.


I am so sad my old colleague is gone. I really wanted to play music with him again. He was inspirational to me as a player as he played with so much passion. My heart goes out to his family. It is so surreal to have lost him he was a strong person. Rest in peace my brother you will be missed.


At abrief moment in time after the release of the 1982 "Hughes/Thrall" record and at a party at Glenn Hughes's house, Gary, Glenn and I were talking about the real possibility of forming a power trio. Gary's enthusiasm for the project was infectious.The unionnever materialized, but for me it would have been a dream band! Rest in peace Gary, you were one of a kind and a rare and genuine talent.


We were in the dressing room in El Paso. Thin Lizzy had opened for us in the past, so I didn't bother to go backstage to check them out, but I could hear someone really fucking tearing it up. I remember asking, "Who the fuck is playing guitar"? Well it was Gary, and I had to meet him. Later I introduced myself and we did what guitar players do ... gear talk. He hands me his pride and joy, the Les Paul he recently got from Peter Green. To my surprise I could hardly play it. He used very heavy gauge strings, high off the neck like a slide player. He played it with such ease ... I couldn't even make a bar chord. Felt like a total pussy.


I am touched and sad about Gary’s passing. He was a great guitarist that many players looked up too and were inspired by.


I met Gary the last time last year here in Brighton at a Hotel called Hotel de Vine. We talked about music of course and we were both surprised that we lived in the same City Brighton. I always liked Gary's music. Still got the Blues. Gary forever.


I was a sad day loosing Gary Moore at age 58. I'm in shock. I never had the chance to meet or play with him, it was on my bucket list but I felt like I knew him through his music. My favorite songs are "Still Got The Blues" and “Empty Rooms." There's a live version of “Empty Rooms” on YouTube from 1987 that's the best live solo of all time and is the essence of what Gary Moore stood for, taste, feel, power and conviction. God rest his soul. We’ve lost a giant. 


The world lost a Giant, Gary Moore. I was a fan for sure. Amazing touch and chops..whew.. fire! I had the honor of sharing the bill with him in 2001 at Montreaux jazz festival. I was with Larry Carlton at the time.. he was such a nice guy and a MONSTER player. He will be missed.


My memories of Gary will be of someone who was dedicated to playing the guitar as well as he possibly could and with total focus, energy and intense commitment. I don't think I ever heard him play a wrong note and he was able to effortlessly become Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Carlos Santana or Jimi Hendrix if he felt like it. He was a very funny, down-to-earth guy and for over 10 years we seemed to share identical, wide-ranging taste in music, more so than anyone else I've played with. I wish I'd had the opportunity to play blues with him but that came later in his career. I do remember that in the mid-70s he was very casual about how he looked after the priceless Peter Green Les Paul – then again, he could make just about any guitar sing and cry. His passing is a giant loss for music.


I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Gary’s passing, he was a truly phenomenal player and will be greatly missed.

For me, one of the highlights of his career was the ‘One night in Dublin’ show, Gary totally delivered that night.

I will miss his attack and the feel in his playing, he was truly a one off and the music world has a huge gap without him.

R.I.P Gary.




ERIC SINGER (drummer KISS, Gary Moore)

"I had the pleasure to play drums with Gary on his 1987 'Wild Frontier' tour.

"I joined Gary's band via Bob Daisley. We had recorded together with BLACK SABBATH on the 'Eternal Idol' album. Bob arranged the audition in London in January of 1987. We soon began rehearsals for what would become one of Gary's most successful tours ever.

"I remember we would practice everyday at John Henry Studios in London. Bob and Neil Carter lived in Brighton and would have to leave in time to make their train home. Gary and I would sometimes stay on and jam. Just drums and guitar. We would play THIN LIZZY tunes or just jam endlessly as Gary never ran out of ideas when it came to soloing! He would also play those legendary guitars back then. The 'Peter Green' 1958 Les Paul and his 'Pink Salmon' 1962 Fender Stratocaster. He, of course, did not take those on tour anymore as they had become much too rare and valuable.

"I have to say the one thing that always stood out to me about Gary was his absolute passion and intensity as a guitarist. This man played every song and note like it was the last time he would ever play it. And therefore demanded and expected the same from his band.

"I have to admit he could be a bit tough on drummers. But he only asked for and expected what he himself gave to music. And that was complete commitment every time you played with him. He inspired me to want to play up to his level every night.

"I will always thank him for the opportunity he gave me to play with him. He really was a brilliant musician. And I always felt like he helped take me to another level as a drummer and musician. It was an experience and an education I will never forget and take with me everywhere I go.


Been revisiting Gary Moore's G-Force album lately-remembering how much I learned from it back in the day....Gary will indeed be missed.


"Gary Moore was such a tremendous feel player. I call it playing from the pores of your skin and he definitely had that.

"I wanted to share a quick story concerning Gary.

"In 1988 we were on tour with WHITESNAKE and I became pretty good friends with [then-WHITESNAKE guitarist] Vivian Campbell. We used to jam a lot before shows and stuff. One night before the show I told him I really loved his live solo and could he show me what he was doing. He showed me the riff and said, 'All I do is play this one riff, but I play it all over the neck and it makes it sound like I am playing something different, but I am not.' Then he said, 'And one more thing, I stole the riff from Gary Moore.'

"Gary will be sorely missed."

"God bless you, Gary Moore."


Biff Byford : "It's really sad.

"We knew Gary from back in the '80s. We went to a few of his album recording sessions back then. Him and Michael Schenker and Paul [Quinn, SAXON guitarist] were quite close back then, so we'd go to their sessions and they'd come to ours.

"We lost connection with him a bit when he started doing the blues thing, but during his metal period we knew him well.

"His guitar playing was always incredible. His tone, in particular, was really something.

"I hung out with him and Phil Lynott at Stringfellows once! It was quite a messy evening, even though I didn't drink at the time. It wasn't a lap-dancing club back then. You had dinner upstairs and then downstairs was the disco, and it was full of fashion models and B-list film stars, and I was there with Gary and Phil Lynott! That was quite an experience! But it's very sad to lose Gary. He'll be greatly missed."

Doug Scarratt: "In my memory of guitar gigs, Gary Moore really stands out. I was a fan from back in the THIN LIZZY days. A friend of mine had a ticket for one of his solo shows and I nearly didn't bother going, but I'm glad I did! It stays in my memory as one of the best guitar gigs I've ever seen. It was at the crossover point when he'd just started doing the blues stuff, and 'Still Got The Blues' was out, but he was still playing 'Parisienne Walkways' and 'The Loner' and all the big rock hits. His playing was just so emotional. It was mind-blowing."


"He was a good friend and it was really a surprise. It's always sad to lose someone who was talented and prominent in the blues world. We can't really afford to lose people like that."

And he still has fond memories of working with the late Thin Lizzy star on "If I Don't Get You Home."

"It wasn't really a planned thing. I was collecting musical people for the album and it turned out he just happened to be in the studio that was above our studio at that time. It was almost accidental. He took a break and came downstairs and put on his guitar track all in one take. That's the way we worked."


I did several recording projects with Gary Moore and the guy was amazing. He could play anything, flawlessly. We would be in the studio recording and he would start goofing around with a country version of the song we were recording and, as if that wasn't funny enough, he would do a Japanese version. Unbelievable. The many nights we would spend at the hotel bar after recording at Morgan Studio NW London for the Dirty Fingers album would be filled with joking, poking and self-depricating humor which made one feel like we were accepted in the presence of this genius. The title for the album wasn't decided and having two Americans in the band, Tommy Aldridge on drums and myself, Gary, being Irish, jokingly suggested, “Let's call it Paddy and the Septics. No wait, The Four Skins!” What a hoot. He didn't drink much because his father did and he wanted to work on his career but what a jokester. A few years later we did a release and a tour of England including the Marquee Club in London and the Reading Festival. The first day of rehearsal, I was so jet lagged that after an hour of practice I laid down on a bench at rehearsal unknowingly fell fast asleep with all the noise going on. Then a tap on the foot woke me up and the guys were playing “The Star Spangled Banner” perfectly. A little embarrassing but hey, I'm in the midst of international superstars, Ian Pace on drums and Neil Murray on bass. Gary was always so positive, happy and generous and I will always remember all the great times we shared in the 80's. Rest In Peace, my friend. That was a great song, as well, from the Dirty Fingers album. I will sorely miss you, Gary.


I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Gary. I met him several times over the years & opened for him on a couple of tours when I was in SAMSON. Such a passionate, Powerful yet subtle player & a major influence on many a big name guitarist. My condolences to his family.


“Well he’s definitely up at the top isn’t he? In fairness I think that he was probably wrongly accused of being one of these speed merchant guitarists because he could play fast. But the thing about Gary was that he actually came from the blues. Whereas a lot of the ’80s guitarists just ripped Eddie Van Halen off.”

“Funnily enough, he took over from Jon Butcher Axis on our Pyromania tour about halfway through it and was special guest to ourselves and Krokus,” Elliott remembered. “He had Ian Paice from Deep Purple on drums. I remember like [Leppard drummer] Rick Allen was just, couldn’t – he was beside himself. He was 16 years old or 17/18 years old and his hero, his drumming hero, was third on the bill to us, you know? We were almost apologizing for it, you know?

We knew Gary pretty well and he was a lovely chap and it’s such a shame and such a waste.”

JOHNNY DUHAN (Singer, Grannies Intentions)

“I was deeply shook when I heard of his death last night. Memories came flooding back. Gary Moore, Phil Lynott, and I shared a flat in Donnybrook back in ‘67 or 68. Originally it was my flat. Then one night Phil appeared and I put him up, just after he’d left Skid Row. A few weeks later Gary came knocking looking for a place to stay. There were only two single beds, so he slept on the floor.”
“None of us, I remember, owned a watch but Phil was good at reading the time from the slant of the sun on the wall above his bed. Phil and I were early risers, Gary slept on on the floor. They were tough times but soft to look back on. We lived on pipe-dreams and porridge. Music was constantly in the background. Gary always had a guitar in his hands, head down, fingers flying up and down the fretboard. A wizard on the instrument. He was only 15 or 16 then. I was two years older. Phil a year older than me.” The Grannies Intentions completed what was to be its one and only album at Decca Studios in London with Moore on guitar and ‘Honest Injun’ was released in 1970. Though the band broke up, Johnny and Gary remained good friends, “Gary and I grew very close. He took me to meet his family and friends in Belfast. He asked me to be the Godfather of his daughter. We lost contact when I drifted off on my folk journey, but I always kept a warm spot for him. He was a genuinely nice fella. A musician’s musician and deeply respected all over the world”.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Gary Moore: The Sky is Crying

This afternoon, I watched a concert DVD of Gary Moore playing his signature instrumental "The Loner" and began to sob uncontrollably. It's the first time I have cried in years.

Gary was found dead in a hotel room in Spain where he was on holiday with his girlfriend. It appears that he passed on in his sleep. The Belfast-born guitarist—one of the instrument's greatest players—was just 58.

He was my hero.

Today's news headlines of Gary's death today have largely focused Gary's career to his brief stints as a sideman in Thin Lizzy. But Gary Moore's dynamic and diverse career, which included 20 solo studio albums in addition to projects with bands including Colloseum II and BBM, was so much more than that.

Only a handful of professional guitarists—Steve Hackett, Jeff Beck, and Danny Gatton come to mind—can boast the sheer stylistic versatility of Gary Moore. During his wide-ranging career, Gary ticked off just about every block in modern music's Periodic Table of Elements, including blues, heavy metal, progressive rock, pop, jazz-rock, punk, R&B, psychedelic and even dance music. Indeed, Greg Lake once commented that the world had no idea how good a country player he is. (Gary did, eventually, reveal his country chops on a couple of songs on the recent blues albums, Old New Ballads Blues and Close As You Get.)

Only a guitarist of Gary's stylistic elasticity could boast cameos on records by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Beach Boys, The Traveling Wilburys and Dr. Strangely Strange.

(Other notable musicians Gary played and collaborated with during his career include—deep breath—John Bonham, BB King, Mick Jagger, Albert Collins, Ozzy Obsorne, Paul Rodgers, Mo Foster, George Harrison Albert King, Jack Bruce, Jim Capaldi, Jimmy Nail, Gary Husband, Darrin Mooney, Trilok Gurtu, Snowy White, John Mayall, Vicki Brown, Don Airey, Cozy Powell, Otis Taylor, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Greg Lake, Glenn Hughes.)

Yet, during his foray into each musical areas, Gary Moore remained utterly distinctive. Case in point: When I saw the movie Evita in the cinema, I remember hearing the orchestral introduction to one of the musical numbers and immediately recognizing Gary's guitar sound even though I had no foreknowledge that he was part of Madonna's project.

As a guitarist, Gary had fingers that a stenographer would envy. Young acolytes such as Vivian Campbell, Slash, Joe Bonamassa, and Randy Rhodes tied their fingers in knots in their early attempts to copy his fretboard gymnastics. Gary explained that his high-tensile digits came from learning to play on a guitar with high-action strings. (Despite being left-handed, Gary learned to play the guitar right-handed.) Indeed, whenever Gary sustained a note (most famously, his showstopping note hold during "Parisienne Walkways"), he didn't use a tremolo arm—it was all in the strength of his fingers.

That formidable technique landed Gary a job with Jon Hiseman's Colosseum II. Gary had already shown great promise with three albums with the short-lived pscyhedelic blues power trio Skid Row—which he joined at age 16—and 1973's Grinding Stone with The Gary Moore Band. But little could have prepared listeners for Gary Moore's scorching jazz-rock guitar work on the Colosseum II albums Strange New Flesh, War Dance, and Electric Savage nipped on the heels of the likes of John McLaughlin and Jeff Beck. (Fun fact: Almost two decades ago, Gary spent 40 minutes jamming in a hotel room with Beck following a joint interview for VOX magazine. If only someone had been there to roll tape....)

Moore's first proper solo album, Back on the Streets, displayed Gary's diverse styles, from the gorgeous balladry of "Don't Believe a Word" to the punk of "Fanatical Fascists" to the dizzying guitar vertigo of "What Would You Rather Be or a Wasp." Yet despite enjoying a UK top 10 hit single with "Parisienne Walkways," Gary's career fluctuated between stints in Thin Lizzy (his playing dominates the band's last great record, Black Rose) as well as trying to start a band of his own called G Force. Gary even played a few shows with a short-lived supergroup, Greedy Bastards, consisting of Phil Lynott and Paul Cook and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols! Confusing matters further, Gary joined Greg Lake's band during the early 1980s. (Moore's interpretation of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" on the King Biscuit live album is astonishing.)

Finally, in 1982, Corridors of Power relaunched his solo career with as a heavy metal rocker with a nice sideline in radio-friendly rock ballads. The even more impressive Victims of the Future followed in 1984 and established the guitarist as one of the most exciting players of the day. Indeed, Gary's cover version of The Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," features one of his greatest solos, starting off with blink-and-you'll miss it speedy runs and one-handed tapping and ending with slow, bluesy licks. (See the live version, below, and feel free to have a chuckle at the stage clothes—not even Lady Gaga would be caught dead wearing that red leather boiler suit.)

Then, mainstream success. Run for Cover, featuring the hit singles "Out in the Fields" and "Empty Rooms (1985)," saw Gary return to the charts. Given that he had "the face of a welder's bench," as Ozzy Osbourne uncharitably described it, Moore was an unlikely figure to enjoy top 40 success in an era of handsome pop idols.

No matter, Gary's keen pop instincts grew from strength to strength with his rock masterpiece, Wild Frontier, an album that drew musical inspiration from his Celtic roots. Though 1989's After the War expanded on Gary's Celtic rock and created a new benchmark of emotive playing in a cover version of Roy Buchanan's "The Messiah Will Come Again," Gary had grown bored of hard rock, let alone wearing spandex.

As a breather, Gary decided to do a fun hobby project of classic blues songs and a few originals. The resulting album, Still Got the Blues (1990), that became his biggest success and his career-defining masterpiece. Featuring luminaries such as Albert Collins, Albert King, George Harrison, and pianist Nicky Hopkins, the album combined Gary's fiery playing ("Oh Pretty Woman," "All Your Love") and pop-hook instincts ("Walking By Myself," "Texas Strut"). Its emotive ballads, including "Midnight Blues" and the title track radiated a newfound grace and elegance. Who would have imagined that Gary could pull off a mournful deep-blues track such as "As the Years Go Passing By"?

During Gary Moore's third decade of recording as a reconstituted bluesman, he adopted a new philosophy: less is Moore. You can hear that feather-light, finger-picked touch on his cover of "Jumping at Shadows" or "The Hurt Inside" on 1992's superb After Hours. By the release of 1995's Blues for Greeny, the Irishman had distilled his playing to a minimalist style imbued with an amber-hued guitar tone reminiscent of that of his own hero, Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green.

Like any of the greats, Gary Moore was instantly recognizable no matter what make of guitar he played, whether it was the Charvels he favored during the mid 1980s or the legendary '59 Les Paul that Green gave Gary for a mere 100 Pounds early in his career. (That tone was so remarkable that when Kirk Hammett was recording Metallica's Black album, the guitarist went to great lengths to find gadgetry that would help him emulate Moore's sound on Still Got the Blues.)

Yet, for all his technique and rich tone, Gary's greatest gift was his uncanny ability to transfer his emotions to six strings. Few guitarists can claim the exquisite feel Gary had. It was an innate ability that he displayed early on in his career when he guested on Thin Lizzy's ballad, "Still In Love With You" and would continue to display on famous ballads such as "Parisienne Walkways," "Still Got the Blues," and "The Loner."

Gary's taciturn expressions on his album covers belied his soulful and romantic side. One can only speculate how Gary tapped into such a deep well or rich emotion but one thing's for sure, he knew plenty about heartbreak having been through two failed marriages. As Gary put it in the liner notes to his Ballads & Blues compilation in 1994, "These songs are for the most part, true stories. Some of them are about me and some of them are about other people." (For Gary's own biographical account of his life, read the lyrics to 1997's "Business as Usual.")

But no matter what he played, Gary's solos were always innately melodic, memorable and inventive, ranging from aggressive passages to tender caresses. (I've posted a few videos throughout this blog entry.) And his playing was so inventive, too. For example, check out the guitar outro of "Looking for Somebody" on Blues for Greeny, the extended version of "All Time Low" on the reissue of After Hours, the sci-fi blues of "Bring My Baby Back" on A Different Beat, or the thrilling improvisation of "Texas Strut" on Live at Montreux 1990.

But so much for guitar solos. Many a guitarist can claim to be a high-flying ace during the middle eight and outro. But the truth is that many lead guitarists struggle to write songs. Gary Moore was a gifted songwriter with an ear for a good pop tune right up until the end. Whether he was creating an electronica-oriented record such as the hugely underrated A Different Beat (1999), the modern rock of Dark Days in Paradise (1997) penning tunes with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker "don't call it Cream" project, BBM, Gary's work is consistently filled with memorable songs. (BBM's single "Where in the World" deserved to have been a hit.)

Indeed, Moore penned several hit singles, including "Empty Rooms," "Over the Hills and Far Away," "Out in the Fields," and "Cold Day in Hell." His albums are consistently filled with memorable songs, elevating Gary from the ranks of many other lead guitarists.

Gary's final decade was, alas, inconsistent even though there were many moments of greatest. The commercial failure of A Different Beat led the guitarist Back to the Blues in 2001. It was a good record yet it felt rushed and lacked the polish of previous blues albums. Worse, the blues-based hard-rock of Scars, named after Gary's newly formed power trio with longtime drummer Darrin Mooney (Primal Scream) and bassist Cass Lewis (Skunk Anansie), was a half-baked album whose fiery improvised jams couldn't compensate for its lack of great tunes. (Honorable exception: The Hendrix-y "World Keep Turning Round.")

The nadir of that period was 2004's Power of the Blues which, with the exception of the title track and the riveting "There's a Hole," felt rote and uninspired. It seemed as if Moore, now no longer a commercial force after being dropped by Virgin, was rushing to record albums at a rate of one per year to stay afloat. Result? Too much filler. Gary even sold the Peter Green Les Paul for monetary reasons.

Fortunately, Gary's last three studio records pulled him back from the brink. Each of them boast several outstanding songs that would merit inclusion on a future "Best Of" compilation. A soulful vocal and majestic solo at the end of the horn-driven track called "You Know My Love" is one of the many delights on 2006's Old New, Ballads Blues. Then, too, there's the Peter Green-influenced tone on the dusky, slow ballad "Evenin'" on 2007's Close at You Get.

On those late albums, Moore also explored acoustic blues, country-flecked blues, and even the harmonica. He was still penning some great originals, too, such as "Ain't Nobody," "Nowhere Fast," "Hard Times," and "Umbrella Man." "Preacher Man Blues" (featuring Otis Taylor) from 2008's fine Bad For You Baby is so catchy that it oughta be outlawed by the World Health Organization. During his final years, Gary also made a several memorable appearances on the Otis Taylor albums Definition of a Circle, Pentatonic Wars and Love Songs, and Clovis People, Vol. 3 and the two bluesmen—who were good friends—toured together fairly regularly.

In the final year of his life, Gary returned to the road with a rock band (featuring his invaluable 1980s colleague Neil Carter on keyboards) and debuted three typically memorable new songs—"Where Are You Now?," "Oh Wild One," and "Days of Heroes"—intended for a future Celtic Rock album. It's likely that those songs will appear in an imminent DVD + CD release, Live at Montreux 2010. (Also coming this year: White Knuckles and Blue Moods, a documentary about Gary that includes fresh interviews with the guitarist.) Gary had also been working on one more blues album that had been scheduled for release late last year and was then pushed back until fall of 2011. Alas, neither the blues album nor the celtic-rock album progressed further than demo recordings. One can only imagine what Gary might have created over the coming decade. He died far too young, much like his Irish friends Phil Lynott and Rory Gallagher.

As great as he was in the studio, Gary's playground was the stage where he a consistently exciting performer with perhaps the ultimate guitar-face grimace. I'll fondly remember many of the great shows I saw—the last was a London show in 2001—and cherish my brief meetings with the man afterward.

Sadly, Gary never did become a particularly famous guitarist in the United States even though he was a legend in Europe. Despite many tours of North America during the 1980s, he failed to break through in a big way. Moore's biggest career folly, perhaps, was failing to capitalize on the MTV rotation and radio play for Still Got the Blues, which sold over 3 million copies worldwide and is widely credited for sparking a blues boom in the early part of that decade. Though Gary did appear on Late Night, reportedly at the request of David Letterman who was enamored with the album (Gary was backed by Paul Shaffer's house band for the show), a US tour failed to materialize. By the time Gary reappeared to promote his After Hours album with shows in New York and Los Angeles (the latter excerpted for Gary's seminal Live Blues album), the momentum was lost. If Gary Moore had managed to crack North America, he might have stood a chance of being remembered for those occasional "greatest guitarists" polls in Rolling Stone and various American guitar magazines.

Ultimately, that means little to me or Gary's many fans across the world, let alone Gary's longtime guitar tech, Graham Tilly or Gary's children, Gus, Jack, Lily, and Saoirse. Those who have heard him can never forget him. Ever since I first heard Gary at age 12 in 1985, his music has resonated deep within my heart and been on near constant rotation in my mental jukebox. I own literally everything that Gary ever recorded and those songs and albums will continue to inspire me and move me over the coming month, as I revisit his entire catalog, and for the rest of my life.

Gary Moore, I love you. Thank you for enriching my life.

Update: 3/21: Esteemed rock journalist Ted Drozdowski has written the best tribute I've seen to Gary on Gibson's website. Read it here.

An excerpt of the lyrics from Gary's "Nothing's the Same" (1992).

Another day goes passing by.
I sit alone and wonder why.
Sometimes it's hard, but I will try
To live my life without you.

You're in my heart, you're in my dreams.
You're everywhere or so it seems.
So many times I've heard that song.
Hold back the tears, pretend you're strong.

Another day goes slowly by.
I sit alone and wonder why.
I think of you, I start to cry.
Nothing's the same without you.