Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gary Moore - Rest In Peace

It's terribly difficult to put into words what I am feeling on this cold, wintery Sunday afternoon. Just this morning, I wrote a defense of Gary Moore, only to hear hours later of his death. I am, along with a great many others, shocked and saddened.

I have been a huge fan of Gary Moore's since I was about 16. I saw Moore play with Thin Lizzy, and it changed my entire musical worldview. At that age I had never witnessed anyone play with such passion, and enthusiasm. It was as if the music passed through him like electricity, as he jumped, grimaced, and writhed through the show. No mere posturing, the notes revealed a stunning amount of emotion and conviction. He never lasted long in Lizzy, as he was fueled by his desire to sing and write his own material, difficult to do in a band with Phil Lynott, but when they did unite it was always exceptional.

As a solo act, Moore rapidly became a huge star throughout most of the world. He headlined festivals throughout Europe, sold out tours of Japan, and sold millions of records. His status as one of hard rock's greatest guitarists grew, but his dissatisfaction with the music led him back to his first love, the blues. It was there that Moore finally cracked the American market, selling out arenas, and achieving platinum status.

The legend of Gary Moore is inextricably entwined with that of his much storied guitar, the Peter Green Les Paul. Moore had purchased the guitar from the Fleetwood Mac guitarist many years ago, and played it with Greeny's full blessing. Several years ago, Moore was forced to sell the Gibson to cover expenses for a tour canceled as a result of a hand injury. The sale is still a matter of considerable controversy, and the pain and frustration Moore felt about the situation was well known. He sold the guitar with the understanding (in his mind) that it would not be sold again, but the guitar is now on sale for some four times what he received. However, it was not the money that pained him, but rather what was to become of the guitar.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gary briefly at a guitar shop in Houston, Texas. I was playing a guitar, and noticed someone standing above me. I was rather shocked to realize it was Moore. He was to play a show that night, and I had tickets, but seeing him face to face with me playing guitar was not expected. He complimented my playing, saying that I had a nice touch. That comment has always meant a tremendous amount to me, and will never be forgotten. I had the pleasure of seeing Moore play on three occasions and each time came away more impressed. He gave every night all he had, and that was always more than enough. I often posed the question as to whether he was a better guitar player, or singer. He was as good a musician as I have seen. I feel honored to have been in his presence, and to have had the pleasure of seeing him work.

Several years ago I had a guitar built for me, a replica of the Peter Green Les Paul, completely due to the influence, and love of Moore's playing. It, without question, was the best guitar I ever touched, let alone owned. The guitar got stolen several years later, and I miss it to this moment. I suppose I'll not soon again see the likes of it, or Gary Moore.

The world is less one great musician today, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all who are feeling this great loss. I am not sure if it has completely sunk in, but it sure has hit me hard.

Thanks, Gary, for all that you gave us over the years. The world was made better by your presence. Rest in Peace, my friend.

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