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Booze didn't kill my brother Rory, it was the drugs to help his fear of flying; DONAL GALLAGHER CLAIMS THAT MEDICATION CAUSED FATAL LIVER FAILURE.

Byline: MAEVE QUIGLEY

BLUES legend Rory Gallagher died because of blundering doctors, we can sensationally reveal.

In a new book which goes on sale later this month, American author Dan Muise reveals that Rory did not die from alcoholism as is commonly believed.

In Gallagher, Marriott, Derringer & Trower: Their Lives And Music, Rory's brother and manager Donal said drugs prescribed to help Rory combat his fear of flying where responsible for his death.

Musician Gerry McAvoy said Rory's problems began with his tendency towards hypochondria at the end of the 70s.

He said: "As soon as you had something wrong with you he'd say, 'Hang on'.

"He'd run up to his room and bring something back down. He wasn't like that at the beginning. This came gradually. It started around the end of the 70s."

Friends and fellow musicians said that towards the end of his career Rory was drinking heavily to counteract the numbing effect the prescription drugs were having on him.

But, prior to that Rory, had never drank more than anyone else on the tour and was totally anti-drugs.

Tour manager Phil McDonnell said: "He never used drink to get him through a show.

"And also Rory was totally anti-drugs. He used to read me the riot act if ever he saw anybody come near him with drugs; powder or weed or whatever.

"He hated it with a vengeance."

Gallagher, 46, from Ballyshannon, Co Donegal died following an emergency liver transplant on June 14, 1995.

He had gone into hospital following persuasion from his younger brother and manager Donal.

Donal said: "It was a few weeks before they diagnosed that he would need a liver transplant.

"There was a certain amount of hope that he wouldn't require it - that the organ regenerated itself enough that it might be damaged, but not failed, and that's when the discussions came to play with the surgeon."

Donal said the surgeon who was treating Rory thought the musician was too young to have alcohol-related liver failure.

"He said, 'This is incredible. There must be more to it.' Well I had known well before that about the medication.

"But you've got a doctor who was treating him before. Rory was complaining of liver pains and the guy was just prescribing him drugs which were the next step down from morphine.

"It was pure paracetamol. But what a lot of people don't appreciate is the biggest cause of liver failure, certainly in Britain anyway, is overdosing on paracetamol.

"I'd figured it out six years beforehand. I'd gotten Rory to switch doctors and done every trick in the book.

"But when somebody gets hooked into one particular set of tablets it's very hard to break that cycle."

Donal said before his addiction to prescription tablets worsened, Rory drank no more than any of his band members, possibly slightly less.

And friends said the musician, who had always been a very reserved and private person off stage, retreated even further into himself as his addiction took hold.

Donal said: "I was always of the opinion that Rory could drink pints of booze without any real."

"I'm not promoting alcohol. But what I'm saying is you could always figure, if any band member, and they were all drinkers, had a bit too much, some soup, black coffee, you could always get the person into some shape. And particularly the next day.

"But when they swallow a couple of tablets you don't know what effect that's going to have on their systems.

"It's very hard to sober somebody up from a cocktail of those tablets."

He said it was ironic that Rory was destroyed by doctors simply because he had trusted them to help him with his long-term fear of flying.

"To me, it's a crime that doctors were handing out stuff that they didn't know what effect it would have on the body in the long-term.

"And a lot of these drugs are now banned. They've now been discovered to have so many bad side effects on people.

"The problem is when you're prescribed maybe eight to 10 different tablets, the doctor can't tell what the effect the whole cocktail will have, he's not a pharmacist.

"At least a pharmacist could tell you what the effect of the combination of one drug over another will have or interact with another.

"It's a chemistry set, especially if you throw alcohol in on top of it.

"I talked to to a German chemist about it one time and he said, basically, it was an evil concoction.

"With that kind of medication there's a drug problem, not an alcohol problem.

"Most of the prescriptions were from one doctor. There were certainly some other doctors that may have unwittingly contributed."

Friend Rudi Gerlach said he had tried to help Rory with his problems as he had been an alcoholic himself.

"I couldn't say to Rory stop drinking or stop taking pills. That wouldn't have worked. So by stopping myself I tried to show him that it could be done, that it was possible.

"So this is how it worked for me. And just being around him a bit more, just to show him that it could work, staying off everything.

"That was the main reason. But I knew it was getting worse and worse. And he's living all the time on his own. There was no one to care about him.

"I don't know what kind of pills they were. But what I saw was when I was with him in London - next to his bed was a shoebox and it was full of different pills."

Many of the late blues legend's band mates believe his life would have been different if he had found love.

Musician Ted McKenna explained: "Pete Townsend said that you go on the road and you've got adulation, going on in front of thousands of people a night.

"You're playing to millions of people over a period of so many months.

"And when you come back, you're expected to walk in and sit down and watch the telly. It's very difficult. It's just so hard to get it out of your system.

"I know exactly what it's like. I think one of Rory's problems was he never had a relationship that was on-going that could anchor him.

However, in an interview with Rory before his death, the guitarist said he had his heart broken by a female musician.

He told Muise: "A certain lady, who I had a great thing for, right, went off and married this guy.

"Then she went off and had his child. And she introduced me to the husband who showed me pictures of the child right in front of my face.

"And I couldn't take it. I really couldn't take it. The only reason I didn't move was she was a musician friend of mine.

"She must have no feelings. I mean, how do you do that? He's a nice guy; I'm not sayin'. But I spent two years in a terrible state over that."

Brother Donal finished by saying, 'It's ironic that after a life of loathing drugs, and drug takers, it was actually drugs given to supposedly help him that probably killed him."

Gallagher, Marriott, Derringer & Trower: Their lives and Music is published by Hal Leonard and will be available from www.amazon.com from April 29.

CAPTION(S):

LOVE LOST: Ted McKenna reveals crush; TRIBUTE: Van Morrison at memorial sevice for Rory; ANTI-DRUGS: rocker hated narcotics culture
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2002
Words:1250
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