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An interview with the late Thin Lizzy guitarist, from the Hot Press archives
Paul O'Mahony, 08 Aug 1984
From Skid Row to ‘Parisienne Walkways’ and beyond, guitarist Gary Moore can look back on a checkered career in the rock world which now sees him established as a major figure in his own right. But was Moore’s bad reputation deserved? How come he was always leaving bands? And how true were all those stories about drink, drugs and fights? When the guitar has stopped talking, Paul O’Mahony finds out what the man has to say for himself.
The Black Sheep? The problem child? The misunderstood genius? Whatever way you view Gary Moore (and most of you don’t judging by record sales in Ireland), one thing is for certain: he’s got lost along the way in the annals of Irish rock history. While U2, The Rats, Gallagher, Morrison, Horslips and Thin Lizzy (to name but a few) were all hailed as exemplary musical ambassadors Gary Moore remained a relatively unsung hero despite his technical brilliance. He has been in some heavy duty musical company and has been recognised worldwide as being ‘up there’ with Beck and other legendary guitar talents. Hailed as a child prodigy in the days of Skid Row, Gary Moore – by his own admission – couldn’t handle the pressure. He drifted in and out of bands quicker than Demis Rousoss could eat two dozen chickens! Drugs, drink, fights. His face tells a story. Rock ’n roll? Yes – and out of control. Musically he certainly stayed off the beaten path, his many maneuvers including the self-indulgent ‘progressiveness’ of Colosseum, three spells with Thin Lizzy, an association with Greg Lake, various session jobs and a concept album of Peter And The Wolf. And that’s just a selection, the boy’s been around.
Recently, he came back into town to show us how he’s been sorting himself out – personally and musically. Talking in the Gresham Hotel he seems relaxed and confident. Sure he’s tough. He’s also brash and arrogant. At times he amazed me and at times I could see his logic, which is driven by an almost obsessively business-like approach to people and life. If it weren’t for the content of his songs, I’d say here was a man for whom humanity and feeling had no place. Even watching him on stage, manipulating his guitar and dragging every last ounce from each note, I felt strangely uncomfortable. I had to come and see the show and felt I was intruding on something special and private. The way Gary Moore handles a guitar is not merely sensual, it’s downright obscene!