MARTIN POWER – White Knuckles: The Life and Music of Gary Moore
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Being the huge fan and admirer of Martin Power’s epic book on Jimmy Page titled No Quarter that I am, I was naturally rather psyched and excited when a copy of White Knuckles landed on my doorstep. The role and significance of the immortal and sadly missed Gary Moore cannot be overstated, and his influence on fans, peers, critics, and even entire music genres is an inspiring and beautiful thing in itself and one that leaves room for reflection – a perfect legacy in so many ways.
Just as I had expected, Power weaves an evocative and richly detailed narrative together that explores and discusses Moore’s lengthy and oftentimes tumultuous career in an enthusiastic yet suitably critical manner. Crammed with facts without ever coming across as an exhaustive read, the book is wide in scope and takes us through the childhood years and upbringing in Belfast, the first bands and local gigs, the move to Dublin and the work and tours with Skid Row, and those musically adventurous and pivotal events that would follow of which there were many. No stone is left unturned, and one often feels like a fly on the wall while Gary is hammering it out in rehearsals or on stage with Colosseum, Thin Lizzy, BBM, and the ill-fated Scars project. A vital and important aspect of the story is obviously Gary’s friendship and renowned creative endeavors with the equally iconic Phil Lynott and the dynamics and ups and down of that relationship, and the chapters detailing Moore’s work with Lizzy around the time of Nightlife and Black Rose are captivating as are the ones on Gary’s musically experimental phase in the latter half of the 90s.
White Knuckles benefits from being refreshingly down to earth and striking that perfect balance between being richly detailed and consistently engaging, and the author has done a magnificent job of tracing Gary’s struggles and triumphs from his early days on the amateur circuit to his inspired and uncompromising albums and tours right up until the moment we lost the towering musical giant. Offering countless vivid snapshots of Moore’s life on and off stage without wallowing in nostalgia, this book is absolutely essential to any fan of blues and hard rock, and by speaking to those who truly knew Gary, his complex and occasionally mercurial personality comes to light; the never-ending strive for perfection (which primarily affected his drummers), the mood swings, the sense of humor, the romantic side (as well as the infidelities), and the fact that he meant what he said and did.