My guitar hero #4 – GARY MOORE. Observations by Tony Besgrove

Gary Moore

The 6th February 2011 saw the death, at the age of just 58, of Gary Moore, one of the greatest guitarists of the past 50 odd years. Gary Moore was raised in Northern Ireland, moving to England in 1970 and spending his final years on the south coast near Brighton. He died of a heart attack whilst on holiday in Spain - far too early for a musician still at the peak of his playing.

He played in a number of bands during his career, notably Skid Row (the Irish version), G-Force, Thin Lizzy (several times), and Colosseum II. Stylewise, he could play anything from slow ballads, to the heaviest of heavy rock, and the blues. His album, ‘Still Got The Blues’, clearly demonstrates his feeling for that musical genre. Guesting on the album were established blues luminaries such as Albert King and Albert Collins, and it is clearly evident, to me at any rate, that Gary’s version of ‘The Blues’ was very different to that of these American legends. Whilst purists may scoff at this Irishman’s style compared with the invited guests, Gary’s Les Paul, feeding a Tube Screamer pedal feeding a wound-up Marshall, just sings its heart out and demonstrates his mastery of the fretboard. In comparison, the two Alberts sounded like they were from a much older era that had been blown apart by this ‘upstart’. [Almost certainly this is a controversial view - but I can (hopefully) take any flak!]

Gary’s vocals were never really his strongpoint in my humble opinion, but that didn’t matter too much as his talent on the guitar eclipsed everything else. One of his heroes was Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac, who famously lent Gary his legendary 1959 Les Paul Standard and then ultimately sold it to him as he ‘wanted it to go to a good home’.

As a shop window for Gary’s 6-string talents, I’ve found a live version of Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Child’ on YouTube. Both audio and video quality are excellent. This time Gary’s playing a Fender Strat which to me looks like it’s been painted with red gloss in his garage the night before - but it sounds gorgeous! This version is very ‘meaty’, and whilst a number of Hendrix licks are in there, it’s still very much a Gary Moore reworking featuring blisteringly fast guitar runs played with almost nonchalant ease. Possibly a little too much widdling?…maybe.

How does it compare to Hendrix’s versions? Anyone who has read my earlier missives will know how I feel about Jimi’s playing. Hendrix sings better, was always a more dangerous player in that you never knew where he would go with any of his songs, and when he was ‘cooking’, he was untouchable. Gary was more predictable, and would always come up with the goods. This video is a truly magnificent version of the song and demonstrates the art of rock guitar playing at the very finest level.

Hendrix still edges it though…on points: just!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h448aMqexuo

Tony

tonybesgrove@gmail.com

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