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Rory Gallagher was forced to deny he was pallbearer at Bobby Sands' funeral

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Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

Rory Gallagher

Legendary Irish musician Rory Gallagher, whose concerts united Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, once had to deny bizarre claims that he was a pallbearer at Bobby Sands' funeral, a new book has revealed.

The late blues guitarist's Belfast-born drummer Brendan O'Neill has written how Rory was confronted with the 'ridiculous' rumours by journalists in Athens before a concert that ended in a riot, during which the stage was set alight and police fired tear gas at the 37,000 strong crowd.

Brendan, who is now 68, says in his memoir, Meet Mr Sticks, that the gig was only his second major appearance with the Rory Gallagher Band, which he joined in 1981, joining up with his lifelong friend from Belfast, bass guitarist Gerry McAvoy.