Rare Guitars: Rory Gallagher’s 1965 National Airline

Rory Gallagher didn’t need expensive guitars to sound good.

Rory Gallagher's 1965 National Airline.

All images: Eleanor Jane

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A couple of decades before Jack White made the Res-O-Glas-bodied catalogue guitar iconic, Rory Gallagher was again ahead of the curve, picking up this red-and-white beauty and using it onstage in the 1980s. 

“He played it a bit in the mid 80s,” Daniel Gallagher – Rory’s nephew – tells us. “There’s some nice footage of him playing it on What In The World at Montreux in ’85. Again, he liked it for slide, but it didn’t want to stay in tune a lot! I think it’s something about having that neck on that plastic body isn’t the best for stability! 

“He thought guitars like this were cool, that nobody else was paying attention to, but to him they’re blues guitars! JB Hutto played an Airline, and Rory covered Too Much Alcohol, so he’d have had his albums and saw that thing and gone, ‘What is this mad thing?! I want that guitar because it’s on the front of his album.’ 

“Another thing would be on the road – certainly in America – he had a couple of incidents early on. Obviously, his Strat and Tele got stolen in 1965, the Tele got run over by an airport trolley and he watched it happen… so he wouldn’t go and pick an expensive guitar, because he knew with his luck, it would get smashed on the way back! 

“So by getting these ones that were $50 here and $75 there, he wouldn’t feel too bad if they fell off a luggage cart or something!”

Check out more of Rory Gallagher’s jaw-dropping collection here.


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