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Aug 08 2023

Auf Wiedersehen

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Auf Wiedersehen


Auf Wiedersehen. That’s how Pete Haycock ended his last message to me. Pete was one of the founding members of the Climax Chicago Blues Band, later shortened to Climax Blues Band, a great innovative bluesy band with Pete on slide guitar.

      Pete Haycock and Bev Bevan with ELO II at Wembley

But by the 80’s the band had seemingly left the blues behind, switching to a more pop style with the release of the single I Love You from the album Flying the Flag. Pete eventually left the band in disgust in late 1984.

It was purely the producer’s idea. I hated most of it. Unfortunately the producer was nominated mainly by the record company, and turned out to be an idiot. I ended up writing bland pop crap, too, thanks to him. — Pete Haycock, article in LouderSound

After CBB, he formed Pete Haycock’s Climax and did numerous collaborations with other artists including a stint with Bev Bevan in the resurrected ELO Part II. He also collaborated with Hans Zimmer on a number of Hollywood film scores such as Thelma and Louise and The Dilemma. In 2013 He started up Pete Haycock’s Climax Blues Band featuring Robin George, who he had worked with in the LovePower Band and various other projects, in what he envisioned as a return to the blues roots of the true Climax Blues Band. He had just recorded a new album, Broke Heart Blues, and was rehearsing for an upcoming tour when on the 30th of October 2013 Pete died of a heart attack at his home in Frankfurt.

And yesterday I get a call from the dead, an email from Pete with the words Auf Wiedersehen! Creepy isn’t it? I’m reasonably sure it’s just someone who has hacked into Pete’s old account, but the hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up nonetheless and I sat staring at the message for quite a long time remembering a long ago lost opportunity to interview Pete. The message came with an unexplained link that I didn’t dare click on for fear of being hacked myself. But I’m sorely tempted!

    Rory and Pete Haycock, Haiger 1984

So why was a Rory Gallagher fanboy trying to contact Pete Haycock? I had found a picture of Pete with my all-time favourite guitarist, Rory Gallagher, and was curious of the where and when of it. It showed Rory and Pete on stage somewhere trading licks on slide guitar, two of the finest slide guitarist in the history of Rock.

I was first able to contact Pete through an old Stafford schoolmate of his, Reg Godwin, who had helped Pete with his website and I think co-produced one of his albums. Pete remembered the picture of Rory and him but couldn’t place the gig or year. All he could think of was that it was at an outdoor festival at maybe a racetrack in Germany, and that the shirt he wore in the pic he had bought in Thailand. Oh, and Rory had a really good harp player with him. That last bit of information got me going, because Rory’s harp player Mark Feltham joined the band at the start of his Italian tour in 1984. All I had to do was follow Rory’s quite extensive concert timeline until I came across a German tour after that Italian tour and before Rory’s weight gain in the late 80’s and 90’s.

Unfortunately I can’t remember exactly where this festival was…but I seem to remember a perimeter or even small stands…maybe a racetrack or something similar? The shirt I was wearing was bought in Bangkok by the way…….so maybe you can dig into the CBB archives somehow to discover which year we toured both the Far East and Germany? Probably early 80’s then….?? Rory had a harp player….which was new to me……and he was great! The lad from Nine Below Zero perhaps? Mark Feltham? — Pete Haycock, conversation with the author 2011

Pete Haycock1

Pete Haycock with Rory and band in Haiger in 1984


In the end, my best guess was that they played together at the Open Air festival in the Grasrennbahn in Haiger-Allendorf on the 2nd of September 1984. It was the only thing that fit. Unfortunately, when I found a flyer for the show there was no mention of the Climax Blues Band. Scheduled for the festival was Wishbone Ash, Golden Earring, and headliner Rory Gallagher. There was also a couple of local warm-up bands including the band Jinx, originally a tribute band named after Rory’s album of the same name! I would eventually find out that Climax Blues Band was a last minute replacement for Wishbone Ash. Yes!

I think you have pinned it down there Milo. In fact “Grasrennbahn” means grass racetrack as you probably know …. and that fits my memories perfectly. I don’t think we played Dust My Broom. I think I just joined in on slide regardless of what Rory was playing…. but it was a great sound… and a dream job….to have his killer guitar to add my slide to! I can only compare it to my other “career highlights of jamming” with Lynyrd Skynrd in Birminghan Odeon or perhaps Steve Miller wandering onstage with a little amp in the middle of my slide solo “Country Hat” some where in the USA…Detroit I think! — Pete Haycock, conversation with the author 2011

The thing is, I have a live recording of Rory playing the Tegelen Blues festival just one day before the Haiger show. You can’t tell me that nobody recorded the next day’s show. If I ever find a recording of those two slide masters jamming together I’ll die a happy man! I’ve found some photos of Pete’s jam with Rory, and one of Colin Cooper, Climax Blues Band’s Sax player, jamming with Rory too. One day I’ll find that audio.


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Pete Haycock with Rory on stage in Haiger in 1984


After the show Rory and Pete got together at the hotel bar and talked about olden times when Rory was with Taste and Pete was just starting out with Climax Chicago Blues Band and about music and the responsibilities of the musician to the fans and to themselves, of staying true to themselves.

We both ended up in the hotel bar afterwards talking very seriously about music and “our” responsibilities. Rory was indeed a friend …after very many years of occasional meetings, our first being in Durham Uni I think…with a still semi-pro Climax (Chicago) Blues Band supporting Taste, so that was approximately 1968/9. Of course we didn’t meet very often…maybe three or four times a year sometimes….but we had a mutual respect, no doubt. — Pete Haycock, conversation with the author 2011

And I think back to an article in Melody Maker back when Rory was in Taste. In it, Rory talks about hit singles and how they can change you. He said, If you release a single, and it’s a hit, you’ve got to follow it up and then you’ve got to bend and bend. And I wonder if Rory had that conversation with Pete, about singles and how they change you and maybe nudged him a bit away from that and back to what he loved best, back to the Blues. Because it wasn’t long after that conversation that he left Climax and went his separate way. But I’ll never know. I didn’t get to ask.

Pete was eager to do an interview. He had his own recording studio in his home in Frankfurt and we’d tape the interview there, by phone if necessary. Unfortunately, I had several interviews in front of me needing my attention and had to delay Pete’s until I could get the time to research it properly. Weeks turned to months and then to years and the opportunity slipped away. His final words to me, about Rory’s passing, I could easily have said about him:

It breaks my heart that I can’t take the lad for a pint of Guinness in our local Irish pub here in Frankfurt now…….just one.
I managed to survive the excesses apparently….he didn’t. Although I’m not religious in any conventional sense I say:Bless his heart and soul. — Pete Haycock, conversation with the author 2011

Pete, I wish I could have taken you out for a pint as well and learned more about your life, your time with the Climax Chicago Blues Band, and maybe a bit more about your time talking with Rory during the occasional meet-ups on the road. Bless your heart and soul!

I fear I’ll be forever haunted by that missed opportunity, and especially that final goodbye, that email from the void. Auf Wiedersehen to you too, Pete!


Pete Haycock1

Pete and Rory backstage at Haiger ©Annelies Vink


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Jun 10 2023

Irish Premiere of Tony Palmer’s Irish Tour ’74 Film

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Cork Film Festival 1974

19th Cork International Film Festival June 8-15

The Irish Premiere of Tony Palmer’s Irish Tour ’74

On the 10th of June 1974, Tony Palmer’s documentary on Rory Gallagher’s tour of Ireland in ’74 premiered at the 19th annual Cork International Film Festival. The famed documentary filmmaker, had met Rory when he was filming Cream’s farewell concert at the Albert Hall in 1968. Rory’s band Taste were the support band for Cream at the show.

The [opening] group was a group called Taste. And I’m sitting watching Taste and thinking, “My God, these guys are good. Especially that guitarist, whoever he is.” I went to find Robert Stigwood [Cream’s manager] and I said, “We really ought to film Taste as well. I think there’s something there rather special.” Stigwood refused permission. He said, stick with Cream. — Music Film web Interview 2014

Despite Stigwood’s refusal to film Taste, Tony went backstage after Taste’s set and introduced himself to Rory and told him how remarkable his playing was. The two agreed to keep in touch, and in late ’73 when Rory decided to film his upcoming Christmas shows in the south and the north of Ireland he requested Tony Palmer to do them. Intrigued by the idea of filming the exceptional guitarist on both sides of the border, and despite the dangers involved in those turbulent days of ‘The Troubles,’ Tony jumped at the chance. Rory’s decision to play in the North was however, not a political statement but a musical one; as he says in the critically acclaimed documentary:

In an Irish tour, I always try to include Belfast and the North of Ireland. After all, I lived there for a while and I learned a lot playing in the clubs there, so I’ve a sort of home feeling for the place.

Rory’s tour of Ireland didn’t go off without a few tense moments. The day prior to his show at the Ulster Hall in Belfast ten bombs went off at various locations around the city and many thought he would call off the shows but Rory would have none of that. Despite the potential threats of violence the shows went on and were a tremendous success.

It was a very, very difficult period. The camera crew were detained at Belfast Airport, locked in a room and interrogated very closely about what they were filming and why. So, you have to remember that there was a very tense atmosphere. But every time Rory appeared on the stage, North or South, east or west, there was a true sense of peace and love, not in any hippy sense of the word, but a true and genuine sense of community and happiness. — Tony Palmer, Hot Press 2024


Rory at the Capitol Cinema for the premiere of Irish Tour 74

The documentary film, Rory Gallagher: Irish Tour ’74 premiered at the Capitol Cinema in Cork on the 10th of June 1974, one of Ireland’s entries in the Feature’s section of the Cork International Film Festival. Rory was in attendance at the first screening of the film and met the press afterwards at a buffet reception at the Savoy Cinema where he was presented with a Golden Disc by John Woods, General Manager of Polydor Ireland, in recognition of selling 250,000 sales of his album Live in Europe.


Rory with the Golden Disc for his album Live in Europe at the Savoy in Cork

Another film being screened at the Savoy later that evening was the U.S. entry, Blazing Saddles. Rory and his brother Donal were huge fans of this Mel Brooks comedy, so much so that when Rory’s film ‘Irish Tour ’74’ premiered at the Cork Film Festival, Rory nominated Blazing Saddles to be also screened as part of the festival. Just two weeks earlier, on the 29th of May Rory had worn a Blazing Saddles t-shirt on stage during his show at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Barcelona.


Rory with Blazing Saddles t-shirt at the Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Barcelona

Rory was an avid moviegoer and was often seen on the streets of Cork on his way to the local movie houses such as the Palace or Capitol Cinemas, often going there 10 – 15 times a month when he was home and had some downtime between tours. To now be the star of his own film premiering in his hometown must have been special! The posh premiere didn’t sit well with one fan however, who wrote to the local newspaper complaining that Rory’s true fans weren’t able to go to the premiere because it was for the season ticket holders only.

  Why Keep Us Out?   SIR — On reading your paper tonight I was disgusted to see that only season ticket holders will be allowed to see the Cork Film International. There is one film I would like to see and cannot afford the price. The film is Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74. I cannot imagine a load of 90 year olds at this film and enjoying it, so why not let us teenagers in to see it at a special price. LONG LIVE RORY! — 28 May 1974 edition of the Evening Echo

I’m sure Rory would well have commiserated with the young lad if he had known his plight, for it wasn’t so long ago that he himself had too few pennies to push as well. Hopefully the lad got to see his hero not long after, once the 90 year olds had their listen. Long live Rory indeed!


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