Gary Moore will be remembered for giving Thin Lizzy the sound, attitude and emotional poignancy that set them on the road to superstardom, but as an artist and a man he was so much more than that. Moore was a maverick, who was never content with just a solitary sound. He leapt from one project to the next, never staying in one place long enough to grow stale or complacent.
Whether Moore was recording for Andrew Lloyd Webber, collaborating with George Harrison or paying tribute to his hero and inspiration Peter Green, there was one continual thread throughout his work; his heartbreaking ability to make the guitar cry. Moore’s phraseology was a thing of beauty; he allowed notes to painstakingly soar before dropping down the fret board for tear drop laced solos.
On his classic hit “Parisienne Walkways” and on Thin Lizzy’s sublime “Still In Love With You” his guitar work brought a level of unparalleled emotional intensity. On both occasions Lynott’s vocals needed to convey only hushed reflection as Moore’s spiralling blues guitar brought a level of lyrical resonance that no singer could possibly hope to equal.
Moore had mastered the art of the tender ballad long before he joined Thin Lizzy. Starting out in Skid Row alongside Phil Lynott, who soon left to form Thin Lizzy, Moore crafted the gorgeous slow burning ballads “Sandie’s Gone” and “New Faces Old Places” which allowed him to fulfil his dream of playing with his idol, Peter Green, when Skid Row supported Fleetwood Mac on tour.
Despite his idolisation of Green, Moore’s style was never as ragged or raw as his hero’s; instead Moore’s playing was soulful and remarkably versatile. Moore jumped ship from Skid Row making a brief pit stop with Thin Lizzy in 1974 where he not only created two classic singles but gave the band their ballsy hard rock edge.
Moore would rejoin the band four years later staying long enough to record the classic album Black Rose: A Rock Legend. Upon its release it became Thin Lizzy’s biggest selling album and saw the band expand their sonic palette with Moore achieving writing credits for the raucous rocker “Toughest Street In Town” and the heartfelt ballad “Sarah”. The former was highlighted by a face melting solo and a bouncy power chord attack, the style of which would become dominant in the eighties.
This was Moore at his most influential. Kirk Hammett and Axl Rose have both pointed back to Black Rose... and Moore’s guitar playing as a key influence upon their careers. Naturally at the height of his success Moore fell out with Lynott and decided to quit Thin Lizzy right in the middle of a lucrative US tour.
From then on in Moore became a guitarist for hire helping out his friends and paying tribute to his heroes but reserving his true creativity for his solo career. He would begin to earn critical acclaim under his own name with the proto-metal masterpiece Corridors Of Power which highlighted his ability to move with the times and write great pop songs. Moore’s heralded early 80s albums showed the world a guitarist who could capture and combine the throw away fun of 80s metal with the soulful lamentations of the 70s.
Moore rarely garnered the critical acclaim his playing warranted, particularly in the US, but that never really mattered; if Moore had been concerned with fame and adulation he would not have left Thin Lizzy in ‘79. Instead, Moore was a guitarist who was essentially concerned with self expression and creative exploration. Fittingly, Moore is remembered not only by his fans but by the world’s great guitarists who look to him as he once looked to Peter Green. As an inspiration, as a legend and as a forefather of modern guitar music, today no classic guitar compilation will ever be complete without Moore’s two masterpieces “Parisienne Walkways” and “Still Got The Blues”.
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