In Conversation With Gerry McAvoy
Gerry McAvoy (born 19th December 1951) is a Northern Irish blues-rock bass guitarist. He played with Rory Gallagher between 1970 and 1991, then with Nine Below Zero until 2011. He now plays with Band Of Friends – a band which celebrates Rory Gallagher’s life and music.
Band Of Friends will play our festival next summer – August 2021.
Here we talk to Gerry about training to be a lawyer, sitting in the garden and the writing of his best song.
Q: Please tell us one thing we may not know about you.
Before I really got involved in music, I was a trainee lawyer in Belfast.
Q: What kind of music were you brought up listening to?
There was always music in my home. My father was a harmonica player, my mother a singer. My grandfather was a mandolin player. So I grew up surrounded by music. There was always a fight to have my Beatles records played on the gramophone. This would be squeezing it in between my Dads Glenn Millar and Benny Goodman records. I grew up listening to the popular music of the time, which would have been early sixties. Basically Rock n Roll Elvis Presley, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, then the Beatles. Then I discovered blues music, thanks to John Mayals Bluebreakers.
Q: What was the first record you ever bought?
The first record I ever bought was Runaway by Del Shannon.
Q: What was the first gig you attended and how old were you?
The first gig I ever attended was the Just 5. They were a well known Belfast band, playing soul music and blues. They had a very charismatic singer called Sam Mahood, and a fabulous guitar player named Billy McCoy.
Q: What does your perfect day look like?
Oh what a perfect day. Getting up early, go sit in the garden and write the best song I’ve ever written.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Practise (Rory Gallagher).
Q: Which one of your tracks means the most to you and why?
A song we wrote together as Band of Friends called ‘Homeland’. The story is about leaving home looking for the perfect place, and realising you had it all the time. Also the song is very close to me because Ted McKenna (drummer) was a major contributor lyrically. Sadly we lost Ted January 2019.
Q: What is your favourite track to perform live and why?
There are so many songs I like to play. I really enjoy playing one of Rory’s songs ‘Keychain’. It’s a very underrated song from Rory’s vast repertoire.
Q: What’s been the most memorable time of your career?
There are so many memories in my musical career, but I guess it was the first time I played Belfast with the Rory Gallagher band. It was during the troubles in Northern Ireland, and it meant so much to me because it was my hometown.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most once the current Covid-19 restrictions are lifted?
The obvious answer is to get out on tour again.
Describe your musical journey in 5 words.
Beginning. Practice. Stage. Audience. Elation.