Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Guitar legend Rory Gallagher immortalised in bronze

Rory Gallagher and his 1961 Fender Stratocaster

One of Ireland’s most acclaimed rock guitarists, Rory Gallagher, is to be immortalised in bronze during an annual tribute festival in his honour.

A life-size statue of Gallagher, who almost joined The Rolling Stones in 1975, will take centre stage at the Rory Gallagher International Tribute Festival in Donegal this week.

The event is expected to attract some of the world’s favourite rock and blues artists and kicks off in Donegal tomorrow, presenting some 25 acts before its culmination on Sunday.

Gallagher sold more than 30 million albums worldwide in his career and was a huge crowd pleaser among Northern Ireland’s rock fans in the 1970s. For a time he lived in Derry, where his brother Donal was born, before moving on to Cork.

For a long time the story of Rory Gallagher almost being a member of The Rolling Stones did the rounds. At the end of 1974, Mick Taylor left the band and Keith and Mick had to look for a replacement. Gallagher went to The Hague, Netherlands, for the audition but was kept waiting for a decision. Eventually he left and went to Japan where he was due to perform and did not want to keep his fans waiting.

So he left a note for the band: “If you still want me then I will hear from you” and he left for Japan. Sadly Rory died in 1995 aged 47, following complications from a liver transplant.

The unveiling of the statue at the Diamond in Ballyshannon town centre will take place before Gallagher’s family who described it as an “extraordinary tribute”. The sculpture has been funded by Donegal County Council Public Art Office.

For the full festival programme log on to www.goingtomyhometown.com

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