The Bassists of Gary Moore by Freddy Villano…
February 6th, 2016 marked the five-year anniversary of the death of guitar great Gary Moore. A somber moment indeed, and also, most certainly, an opportunity for thousands of guitarist worldwide to reflect upon the immense influence he’s had on their instrument as well as their kin. Many marquee players, like Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard/Dio/Last In Line) and John Sykes (Whitesnake/Blue Murder/Thin Lizzy), forged their own identities by emulating Moore’s tone and technique early in their careers.
Inasmuch as Moore was an inspiration to the guitar world, his influence was even broader, as he often surrounded himself with some of the best musicians in the business—and his bassists were no exception. Bass Musician caught up with some of his former bass players and asked them to reflect on their time with Moore and to find out about what they’re up to now.
In 1981, Scottish bassist Jimmy Bain, most famous for his work with Rainbow (and subsequently Dio), managed to cut the bass tracks for Gary Moore’s Dirty Fingers album (Jet, 1984) while simultaneously mixing Stand Your Ground (EMI, 1981), the second Wild Horses record (his collaboration with ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist and fellow Scotsman Brian Robertson). “Gary was doing his album in London, at Morgan Studios, and the bass player he had wasn’t working out so he asked me to come over and play on some tracks,” recalled the 68-year-old bassist. “Chris Tsangarides was the producer and Tommy Aldridge was playing drums. He was one of my favorite drummers at the time—we clicked right away.” Bain already knew Moore from Thin Lizzy, a band with whom he had a close personal relationship, so it wasn’t even remotely an issue when he was asked to pull double-duty. “I started working with Gary at noon and went to about six or seven and then took a break and went down and worked on the Wild Horses mixes starting at about 11 o’clock and worked through the night,” he remembers. “I lost a lot of sleep for a few weeks, but I really enjoyed working with Gary.”
Known for being adept with Moog Taurus pedals (Kate Bush hired him for her 1982 record The Dreaming (EMI) because of his reputation), Bain used them on the track “Rest In Peace” and employed a Yamaha BB2000 bass and an Ampeg SVT throughout the session. He named “Nuclear Attack,” “Hiroshima” and “Run To Your Mama” as standout tracks.
Unfortunately, Bain passed away on January 23rd, 2016. Since 2012, Bain had been working with his ex-band mates from the original incarnation of Dio in the band Last In Line. Their debut CD, Heavy Crown (Frontiers) was released on February 20th. He was reportedly writing an autobiography at the time of his death, titled, I Fell into Metal.
Jimmy Bain w/Gary Moore, “Hiroshima,” Dirty Fingers:
Famous for the indelible mark he left on Ozzy Osbourne’s first two solo records, 65-year old Australian bassist Bob Daisley says the first time he saw Moore play was in 1975 at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park, London when he was in Coliseum II. “Gary was the new sort of whiz kid guitar player that people were talking about,” he recalls. In 1983, when Daisley was in New York with Ozzy and guitarist Jake E. Lee writing for the Bark At The Moon (Epic, 1983) record, Moore, who was friends and former band mates with Ozzy keyboardist Don Airey and drummer Tommy Aldridge, visited and initiated a jam with the bassist. “He loved it,” says Daisley. Not long after, Daisley was called upon to play on a few tracks on Victims Of The Future (10 Records, 1984) and subsequent tour dates, which resulted in Emerald Aisles: Gary Moore Live In Ireland (1986). “At the end of the last show Gary said to me, ‘I know you’re with Ozzy, but if ever you’d like to work with me the door is always open,’” recalls Daisley.
Daisley says that Moore was a big fan of bassist Jack Bruce. “He did like that style of playing, although for Gary’s music it had to be a little more disciplined,” admits Daisley. “Cream was very free and Jack overplayed a lot, but he did it so well. You couldn’t go that far with Gary. He was quite particular and could be quite pedantic in what he wanted and didn’t want,” he admits. “His perfectionism sometimes polished the shine off of things, if you know what I mean.”
Daisley credits Power Of The Blues, the last album he did with Moore, (Sanctuary, 2004), as a highlight. “Power Of The Blues is pretty raw—we recorded it quickly,” he admits. “The basic tracks were done in nine days and the enjoyment we were having comes across in the music.” Daisley used a Gibson EB-3 on many of the tracks along with one of Moore’s 50-watt vintage Marshall heads and 4X12 cabinets. “The other bass I used was a 1963 Olympic white Fender Precision through a vintage Ampeg SVT.”
In 2013 Daisley released his autobiography, For Facts Sake. He took time off from playing to complete the endeavor, saying, “If you don’t put your all into something like that it can go on for years and you never get it finished.”
Bob Daisley w/Gary Moore, “Power Of The Blues,” Power Of The Blues:
70-year-old session ace Mo Foster says it was vital to be able to play by ear when working with Moore: “Gary never wrote out any parts in advance—it was up to you to figure out the chords, any licks and the structure of the song. You could make suggestions but he generally knew exactly what he wanted.” Foster recalls that Moore had seen him playing with Jeff Beck at Hammersmith Odeon back in 1981, but the two didn’t actually meet for the first time until a session in July 1982 at Townhouse Studios in London. Though he has no memory of what they recorded at that session, Foster subsequently contributed one of the most memorable moments to the guitarist’s illustrious career—the fretless bass solo on the song “Empty Rooms” from the Victims Of The Future record. The sessions took place at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, West London in October 1983. “I just used my regular fretless Fender Jazz bass through a little Roland Cube 60 amp,” he says. “We recorded the basic track as a rhythm section first – it was a joy to play with Ian Paice whom I’d never met before – and I then overdubbed the fretless solo, copying Gary’s acoustic solo melody, including the harmonics, as accurately as possible. I used the fretless to make it more haunting.”
Today, Foster is currently promoting a book—British Rock Guitar: The First 50 Years, the Musicians and Their Stories (Northumbria University Press, 2011). “There’s a picture of Gary at eight years old in the book,” he says. “I’ve also been recording a new album with guitarist Ray Russell and drummer Gary Husband (another ex-Moore member), and we’ve been playing some gigs around town too.”
Mo Foster w/Gary Moore, “Empty Rooms,” Victims Of The Future:
Former Whitesnake mainstay Neil Murray first played with Moore in Colosseum II. He auditioned for the group in 1975 and “didn’t get the gig in actual fact,” admits the 65-year-old Scottish bassist. “I thought I would be pretty suitable for it, but I had to borrow somebody else’s bass guitar and it just didn’t sound very good.” Some months later, Murray got the gig anyhow, and though his tenure didn’t last long, the two would reunite in the ‘80’s on Moore’s Corridors Of Power record (Virgin, 1982).
“It was a bit of a culture shock for me in that it was very much Gary-plus-a-backing group,” recalls Murray, referring to the difference between Moore’s band and his previous outfit, Whitesnake. “In terms of the songwriting the bass was much less important—just either playing the riff or pedaling along, which could be frustrating because Gary very much admired Jack Bruce, but he didn’t want that style of bass playing on his records.” Murray notes that although they often clashed stylistically, they were often very much on the same wavelength. “We always seemed to have the same musical taste at any moment,” he says. “It’s just that what he was looking for in a bass player wasn’t quite me. He didn’t want anything unusual happening behind him, whereas I would prefer something more unexpected from time to time, like what Ian Paice and I did together in Whitesnake.” Murray used a custom-made B.C. Rich Mockingbird with two DiMarzio p-bass pick-ups in reverse position through a Hiwatt bass amp on Corridors.
For the last ten-plus years Murray was the house bassist in the London production of Queen’s hit musical We Will Rock You. In 2013, Murray’s current band, Snakecharmer, released their eponymous debut on Frontiers Records.
Neil Murray w/Gary Moore, “Wishing Well,” Corridors Of Power:
Other bassists worth mentioning include the late Craig Gruber of Elf/Rainbow fame, who can be found on We Want Moore! (Virgin, 1984), Andy Pyle who appears on Gary Moore & The Midnight Blues Band – Live at Montreux 1990 (Eagle Rock Ent.) and Will Lee, bassist for the World’s Most Dangerous Band on The Late Show with David Letterman, who performed on much of After Hours (Charisma, 1992).
Craig Gruber w/Gary Moore, “Shapes Of Things,” We Want Moore!: