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Entrepreneur Peter Drayne paid thousands for specially crafted Gallagher guitar

Barry Roche
Irish Times
18 April 2014

Rory Gallagher photographed with the guitar. Peter Drayne from Lisburn bought the JS Berlin Legend at auction. The guitar was custom built for Gallagher who first made first headlines with his band, Taste.

An Irish entrepreneur and music fan has spoken of his delight at being able to bring a limited edition electric guitar specially crafted for Irish born blues and rock legend, Rory Gallagher back to Ireland after buying it at auction in the UK.

Peter Drayne from Lisburn told how pleased he was to have bought the JS Berlin Legend which was custom built for Gallagher who first made first headlines with his band, Taste in the late 1960s before becoming a solo artist with album sales of over 30 million worldwide.

Mr Drayne (59) recalled going to see Gallagher play in both the Ulster Hall in Belfast and the National Stadium in Dublin throughout the 1970s and said he felt he had to bring the guitar back to Ireland when he heard it was for sale.

“I used to see Rory in the Ulster Hall and then I started making this annual pilgrimage down to the National Stadium in Dublin in January every year to see him- he was just such an amazing performer and I’m so pleased to be able bring the guitar back to Ireland,” he said.

“I think guitars like this need to be preserved but they also need to be played and I’m hoping the guitar will be used on a regular basis,” said Mr Drayne who is a director of MITA Records who have recently signed legendary guitarist Steve Marriott’s daughter, Mollie.

Mr Drayne explained that he only discovered the guitar was going for auction with 1818 Auctioneers in Cumbria just a few hours before the auction began but once he began bidding for the instrument made by British luthier, Patrick Eggle, he quickly secured it.

“It started at £19,000 (€23,000) and I was bidding quite aggressively over the phone, going up in £500 a time and it was all over within a few minutes when I got it for £25,000 (€30,370),” said Mr Drayne who regularly attends the annual Rory Gallagher Festival in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.

Gallagher, who died in 1995 aged 47, was reknown for playing a battered Fender Stratocaster as a substance in his sweat reacted to the lacquer which caused its finish to peel but the JS Berlin Legends guitar is notable for its fine figured maple finish and mother of pearl inlay.

Auctioneer, Kevin Kendall of 1818 Auctioneers said he was delighted with the price obtained for the guitar which was custom built in 1992 to suit Gallagher’s playing style and is distinguishable by its gloss finish and the initials ‘RG’ on the 12th fret of the fretboard.

“We got almost twice what we were expecting to get for it so we’re very pleased – it’s definitely been the highlight of my career as an auctioneer in terms of selling rock memorabilia and it’s obviously going to a very good home,” he said.


Irish Times
4 Apr 2012

Rory Gallagher memorabilia, including pictures of the singer and his band. (Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney)

THE FIRST recording by Irish guitar legend Rory Gallagher may have been uncovered in an archive in Cork that was collected by the late manager of Gallagher’s first band, The Fontana Showband.

Music fan Tim O’Leary said yesterday that he was given the archive by Sarah Prendergast, whose husband, Philip, was the first manager of The Fontana Showband, which Gallagher joined in 1963.

“Sarah was moving house two years ago and gave me this archive – there’s a five-track reel-to-reel recording made at Kingsway Studios in London in 1964, and Rory sings lead on two of the songs.”

Gallagher sings solo on a song called ‘Slowdown’, “and I reckon that is his first ever recording”, Mr O’Leary said.

“He later recorded it again in 1982 – the arrangement and the voice is the same but it’s 18 years later and you can hear how he has developed as a guitarist.”

The second song Gallagher sings is a version of ‘My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean’, which was a standard at the time, recorded by many bands in Ireland and the UK – including The Beatles, who backed Tony Sheridan on a version entitled ‘My Bonnie’.

Mr O’Leary, who revealed details of the archive on the Neil Prendeville show on Cork 96FM, said it also had 30 photographs of The Fontana, which also included brothers Bernie and Oliver Tobin, and John Lehane, Eamon O’Sullivan and Declan O’Keeffe.

“The photographs were taken by an official photographer – some in studios and some rehearsing, but they also include what I reckon is Rory’s first passport photograph,” said Mr O’Leary.

“He was about 15 or 16 when The Fontana went on tour in the UK and Spain, and Sarah told me how Philip had to bring Rory into Woolworths in Patrick Street in Cork to get photographs taken for his passport.”

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