Benny Gallagher

Jun 10, 1945

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From Wikipedia:

Bernard Joseph “Benny” Gallagher (born 10 June 1945, in Largs, Ayrshire) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, most famous as half of the popular duo Gallagher and Lyle.


The son of Irish parents, Gallagher worked initially as a marine electrician in the shipyards of Glasgow. During this time, he also played bass guitar in local semi-professional beat group The Bluefrets, which featured Graham Lyle on lead guitar.

Gallagher’s first published song was “Mr Heartbreak’s Here Instead”, which he co-wrote with Andrew Galt. This was recorded as a single for EMI-Columbia in 1964 by Dean Ford and the Gaylords, the bulk of which later became chart-topping outfit Marmalade.

Galt then made two singles for Pye, “Comes The Dawn” and “With My Baby”, under the name James Galt; both were co-written and featured backing vocals by Gallagher and Graham Lyle.

In 1966, Gallagher and Lyle – who by now had forged a songwriting partnership – moved to London in search of a publishing deal. Both continued to hold down day jobs, Gallagher as an electrician and Lyle as a shipping clerk, while waiting for their big break. After an abortive contract with Polydor, which yielded one unsuccessful single, the pair joined Apple Corps as staff songwriters and wrote several songs for Mary Hopkin.

Gallagher and Lyle first hit the chart as performers in late 1970 as the leading lights of McGuinness Flint, a blues-rock band formed by ex-Manfred Mann guitarist Tom McGuinness. This band made two well-received albums and scored two Top 5 singles in Britain with “When I’m Dead and Gone” and “Malt and Barley Blues”, before Gallagher and Lyle left to work as a duo. Gallagher was credited as Bernard Gallagher on sheet music copies of early songs such as these, but later shortened his forename to avoid confusion with golfer Bernard Gallacher.

Between 1972 and 1975, Gallagher and Lyle made four albums for A&M: Gallagher and Lyle, Willie and the Lap Dog, Seeds and The Last Cowboy, all of which were produced by Glyn Johns, and met with favourable reviews. Gallagher and Lyle also enjoyed a brief stint as members of Ronnie Lane’s band Slim Chance, recording the album Anymore For Anymore with him and backing him on several TV appearances, including a slot on Top of the Pops to promote his hit single “How Come”.[citation needed]

It was not until 1976, however, that the duo hit the big time after teaming up with US producer David Kershenbaum on their gold-selling fifth album Breakaway. This set spawned two British Top 10 singles, “I Wanna Stay With You” and “Heart on My Sleeve”, both of which also charted in the US; the latter song was covered successfully by Bryan Ferry. The album included “Stay Young”, which Don Williams took to No.1 on the US C&W chart, while Art Garfunkel enjoyed a US Adult Contemporary No. 1 with the title song, “Breakaway”. […]

Benny Gallagher, with Graham Lyle, wrote two songs for Mary Hopkin which were produced by Paul McCartney. Those were “Sparrow” and “Fields of St. Etienne“.

About the Gallagher and Lyle’s partnership:

McCartney really loved their stuff, and he was responsible for the Mary Hopkin cover. McCartney was the only one taking any interest in publishing. He was actually genuinely interested, and he was thrilled when Gallagher and Lyle came through because the man’s got a good ear. McCartney would actually come into the office on a regular basis and sit on the floor and listen to the songs with me, listen to these people singing in the bath in Wales sending a tape in. We’d laugh about a lot of it, but he’d also listen to the stuff that was halfway any good, and Gallagher and Lyle were really one of the better writers, or writing partnerships, that we signed during that period.

John Hewlett, Apple Publishing – From “Those Were The Days 2.0” by Stefan Granados

Last updated on October 28, 2021

Songs written or co-written by Benny Gallagher


Officially appears on Goodbye / Sparrow


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