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Big Danny ain’t losing the Blues

Big Danny, Blues, Blues Guitarist, Big Danny Gallagher

“To be honest I’ve lived this rock and roll life out as far as I can, and at the moment I just wanna head to Texas for a while and catch up with the family, I ain’t quitting though, just taking a break.”

The piercing afternoon sun has turned most of the pubs fixtures, and its patrons into mere shadows. Yet the form of Big Danny Gallagher is immediately recognisable as he sits comfortably at a table beside the counter. Many would describe Danny as a man in his late fifties sitting on a smokey stage with his old wooden National guitar resting on the knee, long hair tied back, matched by a beard of equal length, belting out his own descriptive vision, of bluesy orientated R&R, with a sometimes country flavour.

Propped to his right is a most unusual large walking staff, which could easily have been used as a film prop for Lord of the Rings.

“Man, I need this to get around now; the legs ain’t got it any more. A friend of mine called Stringbean Wheeler gave it to me, which I now call, Mo Cara (my friend).”

Danny has enthralled audiences between the small clubs of Galway to the historic Gaiety theatre of Dublin, and has been based in Ireland for the last year and a half, but breaking his arm recently has curtailed his performing, and given him a new focus for the immediate future.

“Next month I’m moving back to the states, and heading down to Texas, spend time with my kids and grandchildren, catch up on some reading and maybe even do a bit of fishing.

“I’m gonna spend some time in New Jersey as well, its been a while, I want to catch up with old friends who I haven’t seen in a long time.”

During the 70/80s,Danny was part of the famous New Jersey music shore scene.

“Yeah, during the late 60’s, friends of mine had this apartment where they held parties, but the damn thing became so popular that they eventually turned it into a club. This was where I met the likes of Steven Van Zant, Southside Johnny, and Bruce Springsteen. We got to know Clarence Clemons later on. This became the start of the Jersey Shore scene for us.

“I remember one night after Bruce moved into the house that a group of us were sharing, he played me a song he had just written called Rosalita, which eventually ended up on the album ‘The wild and the innocent’; he just had that something special.”

In 1971 Bruce formed the band Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, which included all the guys who hung out in the club.

“It was crazy, some nights I’d just sit in the middle of the stage playing Craps on a monopoly board, while Springsteen and the rest of the band played on.

“They were great times, I remember at night, Springsteen used to think it was hilarious to crawl around and tickle your feet, then pretend to be asleep as you woke up. A real prankster.

“It was pure rock and roll. We’d finish a gig, crash for a few hours, then load the van back up at four in the morning, and head to the next show. Unfortunately things eventually turned sour between the bands manager and me, he was a real asshole, and he wanted me out.

“Sure enough, I got the call from Springsteen, ‘You gotta go man.’
Bruce always told me, he hated telling people they were sacked, and so the drummer always did it. I guess because we were friends, he felt he owed it to me to say it in person. I always admired him for that.

“A few years later I met up with Bruce and the boys after a show, and I got the red carpet, the royal treatment. It was great, no hard feelings.

“Around this time, I was entering a very strange period of my life, my wife was leaving me, and I was in real bad shape. I was playing the Blues in clubs and stuff. Bruce came to the show one night; he thought my voice was real good.

“Eventually I left the New Jersey Shore scene during the middle 70’s and moved to Colorado for a while, and then on to Washington State, but came back to Jersey in the early 80’s.

“Finally I just had enough, I just felt like the Ghosts were following me everywhere I went. That’s when I decided it was time for a break, time to get out. I thought that by coming to Ireland for a while I could leave the past.

“As I walked out of Dublin airport, what’s the first thing I see; only a picture of Bruce and Clarence on a poster on Dublin bus, advertising their latest album, it was hilarious.

“Do I keep in contact with the guys anymore? Nah, I’ve been out of that loop, for a while now; it was such a long time ago. Though it’s great to see that, Steven, Bruce, Clarence and Southside Johnny are doing so well.

“And me, I’m just looking forward, to the next chapter.”
Published: 2006-07-09
Author: Joe Gogarty

About the author or the publisher
Born in Dublin,Ireland.

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