Gary Moore, the former Thin Lizzy guitarist, first picked up a guitar when he was eight years old and would go on to become a legendary rock musician regarded as one of the greatest players of his generation.
Belfast-born Moore grew up in the Newtownards Road area and after a 50-year career he commanded the respect and admiration of musicians around the world.
As famous for his intense facial expressions while playing the blues and rock he loved as much as his impressive guitar work, Moore’s death in Spain at the age of 58 has left fans and fellow musicians shocked.
His death was confirmed on the star's official website with the sad message: “It is with deep sorrow and regret that we have to announce that Gary Moore passed away while on holiday in Spain last night,” it stated.
“Our thoughts are with his children, family and friends at this sad time.”
Bandmates paid tribute last night to the “great player and great guy” they knew.
Moore, arguably most famous for his 1979 hit Parisienne Walkways, was found dead in a hotel room on the Costa del Sol.
He began his lifelong career in the music business aged just 16 when he moved to Dublin in 1969.
He joined the rock band Skid Row, which also featured future Thin Lizzy star Phil Lynott.
In 1973, he was brought in to Thin Lizzy to replace the departing Eric Bell, another guitarist from Northern Ireland, but only played with them for four months.
Four years later he returned and went on to play on the band's famous Black Rose album.
Eric Bell said he was still “in shock” at Moore's death.
“I still can't believe it,” he said.
“He was so robust, he wasn't a rock casualty; he was a healthy guy. He was a superb player and a dedicated musician.”
Moore had a successful solo |career but it was for his time in Thin Lizzy that he will be best |remembered. Another notable moment during his time with the group came with his solo on Still In Love With You, from the band’s 1974 Nightlife album.
Paying tribute to him, Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham said he will be missed.
“Playing with Gary during the Black Rose era was a great experience, he was a great player and a great guy,” he said.
“I will miss him.”
During a lengthy solo career he performed and collaborated with a diverse realm of artists ranging from BB King to Ginger Baker, Ozzy Osbourne to the Traveling Wilburys.
Thin Lizzy founding member Brian Downey last night also paid tribute to his friend.
“I am in total shock,” he said.
“He will always be in my thoughts and prayers and I just can't believe he is gone.”
Niles Stokes, editor of Hot Press music magazine, who knew Moore for almost 50 years, described |him as a “phenomenally good guitarist”.
“Not only did he have success with Thin Lizzy but he had a successful solo career,” he said.
“His contribution to the Irish rock canon was immense.”
Childhood pal Austen Lennon, now a north Down councillor, also spoke of his friend.
“I remember him as a round-faced boy, friendly, who was very modest and was an absolute wizard on the guitar,” he said.
A fretboard wizard admired around world
Guitar hero Gary Moore was held in high regard by music fans for his work with rock band Thin Lizzy and was also acclaimed for his solo efforts.
During his career, which started in the 1960s at the age of 16, the multi-talented east Belfast-born blues, rock and ballad guitarist gained admiration from his musical peers and collaborated with a number of leading artists, including the Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne, Andrew Lloyd Webber and George Harrison of The Beatles.
Harrison, Bob Dylan,Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne recruited Moore to play on the Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3 album and in 1994 rock legends Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker formed BBM with him.
Hugely influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, Moore first received international recognition when he recorded albums and toured Europe and America supporting acts such as Frank Zappa, the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Canned Heat.
The star shared the stage with blues and rock luminaries such as BB King, Albert King, Colosseum II and Dublin-based group Skid Row — not to be confused with the US glam band of the same name.
Last year, Gary Moore, Out In The Fields was 49 on the Belfast Telegraph’s list of Northern Ireland’s Top 50 music memories voted for by our readers and U105 listeners.