A new double album of Rory Gallagher songs brings together the best of the late blues rock man. Alan Corr talks to the man who put it together, Rory's nephew Daniel

It was only in October 1987 that Daniel Gallagher fully grasped what his uncle Rory did for a living.

Five-year-old Daniel, the youngest son of Rory’s brother Donal, was standing at side of stage as his uncle, the one who’d always come round every Sunday for dinner and a game of footie in the garden, was in full flight in London’s Hammersmith Odeon and the young boy was awestruck.

Rory in 1972

"It was probably when I was around four or five that I first understood that he was a musician," says Daniel, now 38 and working for Universal Music in New York as manager of the guitar hero’s back catalogue.

"I used to think he was a magician because I didn’t know the word musician. He used to do magic tricks for me but when I was about five dad took me and my older brother, Eoin, on tour with them and he were at the Hammersmith Odeon and dad pulled the curtains side of stage and there was Rory and his band rocking out.

"Rory had a big smile on his face and he duckwalked over to me and my brother, machine gunning us with the guitar, and we were going crazy. That was the first time I got what my uncle Rory did."

It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair and fascination for Daniel. Two years later, Rory bought him his first guitar for Christmas and then there was the time his uncle shared a stage with Slash in the US.

"That was a big moment for me," says Daniel. "He played with Slash in 1991 in the states. My dad came back with photos of them playing together and Guns N’ Roses were the biggest thing in my life at the time.

"After that I wanted to be a musician. In the mid-2000s my dad asked me to help him put together some of the Rory projects. I think the first one I did was the Montreux DVD collection. My dad roped me in from there."

Along with Donal, Daniel is now the keeper of the flame of the greatest blues rock guitarist ever to strut the boards.

"Rory concerts used to hit you right in the face with the first couple of numbers and then he'd slow it down a touch with more strictly blues songs, then you’d get the acoustic section and then it would ramp back up."

His job includes looking after his uncle’s library and all aspects of management of his estate and he’s been back raiding the great man’s extensive catalogue to compile the new 30-track Rory Gallagher Best of album.

It follows the release of Blues in 2019 and this year’s Check Shirt Wizard - Live ’77 and spans the self-taught virtuoso’s whole career, from tracks by Taste in 1969 to his final studio album, 1990’s Fresh Evidence.

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The album bristles with prime-time Rory songs such as Shadow Play, Follow Me, Tattoo'd Lady, I Fall Apart, Philby, and Blister on The Moon.

And while Daniel may have an intimate knowledge of his uncle’s extensive back catalogue, putting the new compilation together was challenging.

"It was a challenge starting with 150 plus songs and trying to whittle it down to 30 so I set myself a few limitations," says Daniel, who also played guitar for the band Cazals for six years.

25 years after his death, Rory Gallagher is forever in blue jeans, Converse and check shirt. The guitar genius who learned from the greats and who is still passing the torch on to a whole new generation.

"I figured we could hold off on the live material and just concentrate on the live studio albums and that way you get in touch more with his song writing. That helped me. I wanted to cover all of Rory’s career so I wanted to include some Taste tracks, I wanted it to make it all the way to Fresh Evidence but there are some songs that just have to go in, Tattoo’d Lady, Calling Card.

The day Rory Gallagher met The Killer 

"He didn’t release singles, but those are his calling card songs and then it was picking which ones worked together because I didn’t want to do it chronologically. I wanted it to be a fun album, so I tried to arrange it like a Rory concert.

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"Rory concerts used to hit you right in the face with the first couple of numbers and then he’d slow it down a touch with more strictly blues songs, then you’d get the acoustic section and then it would ramp back up against so I took that plan for the album."

Along with those Rory classics, Daniel also unearthed Rory’s semi-legendary recording of the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction with Jerry Lee Lewis, who was in London to make his 1973 London Sessions.

Asked if there any more hidden Rory gems out there to unearth, Daniel says, "I did a bit of that with the Blues album, trying to track down odd numbers and now I’m going do that with each album to see what’s there because there’s going to be multiple takes.

Pictured left to right: Managing Director, Fender Graeme Mathieson, Alec Galloway, Donal Gallagher, President Michael D. Higgins and Dan Barry of Fender guitars at an event to honour Rory at Fender Guitar HQ in Dublin, March 2018

"Will we find him doing other versions of things . . . so I’m in that process now, starting with his first album because next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of his first solo record so good timing to dig into it."

25 years after his death, Rory Gallagher is forever in blue jeans, Converse and check shirt. The guitar genius who learned from the greats and who is still passing the torch on to a whole new generation.

"My dad did an absolutely fantastic job after Rory passed of keeping the awareness going," says Daniel. "It would have been so easy for my dad to go off and do another job, but he’s kept his brother’s legacy really flying and I just hope I help with that.

Rory in 1988

"A friend of mine who wasn’t really into Rory saw the front cover of the Taste at the Isle of Wight box set and said they look like the coolest band ever. He never got into fads and fashions and silly trends. Rory remained classic and had integrity."

Alan Corr @CorrAlan2

The Best of Rory Gallagher is out now