Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



(b 4 April 1952, Belfast; d 6 February 2011) UK heavy metal guitarist. Began at age eleven, the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton his model. He joined Skid Row by age 16 (albums Skid Row '70, Thirty Four Hours '71); another member briefly was rhythm guitarist Phil Lynott, who later formed Thin Lizzy playing bass. He formed a three-piece Gary Moore Band with bassist Frank Boylan and drummer Pearce Kelly; made unexceptional Grinding Stone '73, disbanded to join Lynott, but stayed only a few months due to personality clashes; played on standout track 'Still In Love With You' on Nightlife '74. Turned to jazz-rock with Colosseum II, played with them on Strange New Flesh, Electric Savage and War Dance '76-7, but like bassist Neil Murray (later with Whitesnake) and keyboardist Don Airey (joined Rainbow) he felt the strong pull of heavy metal. He depped for Lizzy's Brian Robertson when he'd injured his hand '77; rejoined full-time replacing the Scotsman when he left to form Wild Horses, this time making a whole album with the band (Black Rose '79) as well as borrowing Lynott and drummer Brian Downey for his own solo Back On The Streets '78: the single 'Parisienne Walkways' (top ten UK) featured Lynott's vocal, Moore being unsure of his own voice; the album and single (lyrical guitar playing reminiscent of Santana) showcased many styles.

He formed G-Force with Mark Nauseef, drums; Willie Dee, bass and keyboards; Tony Newton, vocals; an eponymous '80 LP sold badly (but was recycled later, along with live G-Force material). He returned to the sideman role with bassist Greg Lake; went solo again '82 with Murray and Airey from Colosseum II plus drummer Ian Paice (ex-Deep Purple): Corridors Of Power '82 included a cover of Free's 'Wishing Well', reached no. 30 in the UK LP chart, with Moore taking all the vocals. Airey left, replaced by ex-UFO Neil Carter; Murray rejoined Whitesnake, replaced by ex-Rainbow Craig Gruber; Victims Of The Future '84 revealed an unsuspected mature rock voice and reached no. 12. Paice was replaced by Bobby Chouinard (ex-Billy Squier drummer) for live two-disc We Want Moore '84; Run For Cover '85 was no. 12 again, his most accomplished album to date, preceded by a hit with Lynott on powerful anti-war anthem, 'Out In The Fields', with both trading vocals; he followed up with another hit, a remake of 'Empty Rooms' from Victims Of The Future. His guitar skills now reinforced by vocals and songwriting, he also appealed as a pop singles act with a lyrical side, a gift he shared with the late Lynott. Anthology on Raw Power was accompanied by live Rockin' Every Night '86; the hit single 'Over The Hills And Far Away' '87 seen by critics as rip-off of Big Country was in fact a rediscovery of Thin Lizzy's folk beginnings. Then Wild Frontier '87 was his first UK top ten album, following which he unexpectedly moved away from the heavy metal sound to Still Got The Blues '90 (with guests Albert Collins and Albert King), After Hours '92 (with Collins and B. B. King) and live Blues Alive '93, the last two top ten in the UK. He also played on Paul Rogers's tribute to Muddy Waters album, and in '95 was played in group BBM with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, which didn't last long. Blues For Greeny '95 saw him imitating the uniquely sad sound of Peter Green, perhaps Britain's best-loved guitarist, to a startling degree of intensity on an album of Green's songs; followed by Dark Days In Paradise '97.

Moore died of a suspected heart attack while on holiday in Spain.