In his acceptance speech, Edge explained how much the award meant to him, as Rory was an inspiration that helped him to choose music as his path, as he described how he was “aged 15, at his first major rock ‘n’ roll show, down in Macroom, seeing what three guys could do with a couple of guitars and a set of drums. With that in mind, I want to accept the award on behalf of all the young men and women in bedsits and bedrooms all over the country trying to work out how to do that first Bar A chord, and dreaming of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, up there on stage making a lot of noise. In 1966, that would have been Rory at home in Cork, and about ten years later that would have been me in Malahide doing exactly the same thing.”
Backstage, Edge paid tribute to the pioneering work of Rory Gallagher as Ireland’s first rock star. “In terms of his contribution to rock ‘n’ roll in this country, he will always be remembered. He was the first. He was the guy that did it when it was unheard of in Ireland. A lot of the bands and artists that came after him really should thank him for preparing the way.
“Rory was an inspiration on a number of levels, firstly, because he was Irish. That was a huge thing for me as a guitar player of 15 or 16. I took great pride in the fact that he was doing well. Seeing what Rory and his band could do on stage was an absolute eye-opener, a mind-blower. I had already started working with the four members of the band, because at that stage my brother Dick was with us as well, and it was a very critical point in my own life as a musician. It was a boost to my morale, and it gave me a new lease of determination and energy.”
So what did it mean to Edge to lift this award, having won practically everything else worth winning throughout his career? For the first time all night, Edge’s eloquence lets him down slightly, as he seems genuinely emotive and even choked up.
“There are awards and there are awards,” he says slowly. “This is really special because it is the first time this award has been given to anyone. Particularly under the circumstances of Rory passing away last year. I just think it has extra significance for me. It is an incredible honour and great pleasure to be recognised with this award. But also, it brings it home in a very real way that Rory is gone now, so it brings mixed feelings.”