If you've followed my column, you will have noticed that I regard Gary Moore very highly and have often cited his playing as inspiration for many of my lessons.
For that reason, I wanted to pay tribute by recording a cover of one of my favorite Gary Moore songs, "The Loner."
"The Loner," which was written by Max Middleton, originally appeared on a Cozy Powell album called Over the Top. It was then recorded by Moore, who made several changes and was credited and co-writer on his version, which appeared on his 1987 album, Wild Frontier.
The main inspiration for my version came after hearing several live bootlegs, some of which were about 30 minutes long! This gave me the idea to have an improvised intro and outro section with the main song/theme in the middle. Stylistically I wanted it to be more of a natural blues sounding arrangement as opposed to the large amounts of synths featured on the Moore version.
For my version, I felt it was important to feature musicians who had played with Moore. I asked bassist Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake, Black Sabbath), who played on some of Moore's early solo albums such as Corridors of Power and Victims of the Future.
For the keys, I thought Don Airey (Deep Purple) would be the perfect fit; not only am I a huge fan of Don's work, but he also played with Moore on many of my favorite recordings. The original Moore version used a drum machine, so I asked Vinny Appice (ex-Black Sabbath, Dio) to record the drums. I thought Vinny's style would fit the song perfectly as I wanted a slow blues feel with tasteful fills.
For my guitar track, I used a '78 Les Paul custom through a Marshall 2204. I spent a lot of time experimenting with guitar tones but decided to keep it simple. I used my guitar's volume and tone controls to get more dynamics. For example, in the intro I used the volume control to clean up the tone and also played sections with my fingers instead of a pick. The main theme is played with the tone control of the bridge pickup rolled all the way down. The intro and outro were improvised using mostly minor scales and minor pentatonics, which was easy considering my backing was played by world-class musicians.
Overall I'm pleased with how the cover came out, and it fits the style I was going for. So here's my tribute to Gary Moore featuring Neil Murray, Don Airey and Vinny Appice!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England who now lives in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and toured Japan, the US and Canada in 2012. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.