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Obituary: Gary Moore

Gary Moore

Obituary by Jack Foley

ROCK guitarist Gary Moore has died in a hotel room in Spain, it has been confirmed.

The 58-year-old musician, originally from Belfast, was a former member of legendary Irish group Thin Lizzy but was also a renowned solo performer in his own right.

News of his passing was confirmed by Adam Parsons, who manages Thin Lizzy. He told the BBC that Moore had died in the early hours of Sunday morning (February 6, 2011).

Born Robert William Gary Moore on April 4, 1952, he then grew up in east Belfast and picked up his first instrument, a battered acoustic guitar, at the age of eight.

He then got his first quality guitar at the age of 14 and learned to play the right-handed instrument in the standard way despite being left-handed.

Moore cited his early musical influences as Elvis Presley and The Beatles but, after seeing Jimi Hendrix and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers perform in his home town of Belfast, he began to hone is own style into a blues-rock sound.

Another great early influence was fellow guitarist Peter Green, of Fleetwood Mac, who became a mentor to Moore in Dublin, which he moved to in 1969 to join Skid Row, which featured Phil Lynott as lead vocalist.

When Lynott formed Thin Lizzy, he eventually brought Moore into the band to replace the departing Eric Bell, another guitarist from Northern Ireland.

As lead guitarist of Thin Lizzy, he received widespread acclaim for his work on the 1974 album, Nightlife.

But while a crucial part of the Lizzy set up, Moore also continued to make a name for himself as a solo performer. Prior to joining Lizzy, for instance, he released his first solo album, Grinding Stone, and garnered further acclaim for his virtuoso playing.

And while he returned to Thin Lizzy in the late ’70s, he also enjoyed UK chart success in solo form with Lynott, via singles Parisienne Walkways and Out In The Fields.

He also refused to be constrained by any one genre and embraced a range of styles from blues and metal to hard rock.

He also performed on stage with a range of major artists – including George Harrison, Albert Collins, Jimmy Nail, The Beach Boys, Ozzy Osbourne and Andrew Lloyd Webber – and released 20 studio albums in what turned out to be a prolific career.

In the mid-90s, he put out another well received LP – Still Got The Blues – which featured contributions from Albert King, Albert Collins and George Harrison.

But he decided to experiment with modern dance beats on >Dark Days in Paradise, which wasn’t particularly embraced by fans.

He returned to the blues for 2001’s Back to the Blues, however, and released several more blues compilations throughout the Noughties, including Power of the Blues (2004), Old New Ballads Blues (2006) and Bad For You Baby (2008).

Among the first to pay tribute to Moore was Thin Lizzy band-mate Scott Gorham, who told the BBC it had been a pleasure to share a stage with the guitar legend.

“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.”