Gallagher and Lyle are a Scottish musical duo, comprising singer-songwriters Bernard Joseph “Benny” Gallagher (born 10 June 1945, Largs, Ayrshire) and Graham Hamilton Lyle (born 11 March 1944, Bellshill, Lanarkshire).
Their first recognition came in 1968, when they were signed by The Beatles to write for Apple Records’ artists. They were founding members of the band McGuinness Flint and wrote the 1970 UK chart hit “When I’m Dead and Gone”. They formed the duo Gallagher and Lyle in 1972 and their fifth album Breakaway charted and included the hit songs “Heart on My Sleeve” and “I Wanna Stay with You.” Don Williams took their song “Stay Young” to No. 1 on the US Country charts. The duo split in 1980, but re-formed in 2010. Gallagher and Lyle have worked, jointly and individually, on records with, among others, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Wood, Joan Armatrading, Ralph McTell, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention, and Jim Diamond. Artists who have released Gallagher and Lyle songs include Bryan Ferry, Elkie Brooks, Fairport Convention, Art Garfunkel and Joe Brown.
They joined forces in 1959, initially as members of the local Largs based band, The Bluefrets. They began writing original material for the band, while Gallagher also co-wrote “Mr Heartbreak’s Here Instead” for Dean Ford and the Gaylords (later to become Marmalade). When they were signed by Apple Records, they wrote for musicians such as Mary Hopkin (“Sparrow”, “The Fields of St. Etienne”, “International”, “Heritage”, and “Jefferson”).
There was a rare one-off single issued on UK Polydor 56093 in 1967; “Trees” b/w “In The Crowd” issued under the name Gallagher-Lyle, which preceded their success as songwriters at Apple. They also backed singer James Galt, a friend of theirs from Largs, on two singles for Pye Records that are now highly prized by northern soul collectors: “Comes The Dawn”/”My Own Way” and “With My Baby”/”A Most Unusual Feeling”, both of which were composed by permutations of Gallagher, Lyle and Galt. These tracks have appeared on various CD compilations of 1960s rarities.
In 1970, Gallagher and Lyle were original members of McGuinness Flint, writing nine of the 11 songs on the group’s debut album, including the UK Singles Chart success “When I’m Dead and Gone”, as well as the follow-up non-album single, “Malt and Barley Blues”, both produced by Glyn Johns.
They recorded a second album, Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby with McGuinness Flint—again writing most of the songs—before leaving to form the duo Gallagher and Lyle in 1972, signing to A&M Records after their initial solo album was first released on UK and US Capitol**. They recorded four albums: Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle, Willie and the Lapdog, Seeds, and The Last Cowboy again under the auspices of Glyn Johns. But it was not until they teamed up with US producer David Kershenbaum for their fifth album, Breakaway, in 1976, that they charted again, with the hits “Heart on My Sleeve” and “I Wanna Stay with You”, both of which reached Number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and also charted in the US. The album Breakaway, meanwhile, reached No.6 on the British LP chart and went gold. Art Garfunkel’s cover of “Breakaway” was also a hit at the time, topping the US Adult Contemporary chart, and Don Williams took “Stay Young” to No. 1 on the US country record chart, which saw the song receive in excess of one million airplays on American radio. The duo also penned and performed “A Heart in New York”, which was later performed by both Simon & Garfunkel and Garth Brooks in their concerts in Central Park, New York City to audiences of 500,000 and 750,000, respectively.
Their mellow sound was only briefly in vogue, and elusive further success (another minor hit in the UK was “Every Little Teardrop”) prompted their split in 1980, by which time three more albums had been issued: Love On The Airwaves (which went silver in the UK), Showdown and Lonesome No More. The latter was issued on Mercury; a further album recorded for that label, Living On The Breadline, has never been released. The duo’s original version of “A Heart In New York”, which was to have been included on that set, appeared on 1991’s compilation album Heart On My Sleeve – The Very Best of Gallagher and Lyle.
(** The UK Capitol and the UK A&M issue of their first album included their musical version of the poem, “Desiderata”. The US Capitol album is missing that track.)
Graham Lyle formed his own publishing company, Goodsingle Publishing (later to become goodsingle.com) in 1980, chiefly to administer his own copyrights, and began writing for other artists. His earliest post-Gallagher & Lyle compositions included the singles “Our Love” for Elkie Brooks and “Listen to the Night” for Climax Blues Band. Since then, Graham’s songs have been recorded by some of the biggest names in music including Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Diana Ross, Etta James, Patti LaBelle, Anita Baker, Joe Cocker, Wyclef Jean, Fat Joe, Rod Stewart, Tom Jones, The Neville Brothers, Hall & Oates, Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Jim Diamond, The Judds, Wet Wet Wet, Paul Young, Bucks Fizz, Eros Ramazzotti, and Warren G, but it is for his work with Tina Turner that Lyle is best known.
Lyle formed a new songwriting partnership with Terry Britten, and their hits included the Grammy winning Song of the Year and Record of the Year “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” and the multi Ivor Novello winning “We Don’t Need Another Hero” for Tina Turner; and “Just Good Friends” for Michael Jackson. He also recorded an album with Tom McGuinness, credited to the Lyle McGuinness Band: Acting on Impulse (1983), as well as a solo portfolio album, Something Beautiful Remains (2003). A solo single, “Marley”, was issued on Red Bus in the UK in 1983, while “Taking Off” – a TV advertising jingle, co-written with prolific session keyboardist Billy Livsey and credited to the Lyle-Livsey Band – was released on the Dolphin label in 1984, but only in Eire, where it became a Top 20 hit. Lyle performed his composition “One Woman” at the United Nations in New York (www.un.org/webcast/) on 24 February 2011 to launch their “U.N.Woman” project.
Gallagher spent nine years as a founding director and the first chairman of the Performing Artists Media Rights Association (PAMRA), which saw £20 million of equitable remuneration paid through to UK performers under his stewardship. He has been deemed a companion of LIPA, Sir Paul McCartney’s school of performing arts in Liverpool, and enjoyed a seven-year stint as bassist and vocalist of The Manfreds, which included five of the original members of Manfred Mann, featuring both lead singers, Paul Jones and Mike d’Abo, in the same band for the first time touring the UK, Europe, the Middle and Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
Gallagher is a featured artist and co-owner of OnSong (an internet based record label) with Derek Wilson. Gallagher has released two albums as a solo artist – Benny Gallagher on Stage and more recently, At the Edge of the Wave. The latter set features his tribute to Robert Louis Stevenson, “Tusitala”; this song has also been included on the Greentrax CD The Great Tapestry of Scotland, which was released in late 2012 to accompany the launch of what will be the largest tapestry in the world.
Two of Gallagher’s children have followed him into the music industry: leading producer Dillon Gallagher, and prolific hit songwriter Julian Gallagher, who has written hit songs for 5ive, Kylie Minogue and Emma Bunton.
Gallagher and Lyle sang and performed as members of Ronnie Lane and The Slim Chance Band on the hit single “How Come” and the ensuing album, Anymore for Anymore, and they have worked, jointly and individually, on records with Mary Hopkin, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Ronnie Lane, Ronnie Wood, Elkie Brooks, Joe Egan, Andy Fairweather Low, Gary Brooker, Dennis Coulson, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Champion Jack Dupree, Joan Armatrading, Ralph McTell, Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention and Jim Diamond.
Other artists who have recorded Gallagher and Lyle songs include: Bryan Ferry, Colin Blunstone, Donavon Frankenreiter, Elkie Brooks, Fairport Convention, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, Joe Brown, Judith Durham, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Phil Everly, Ricky Nelson, Ringo Starr, Rita Coolidge, Status Quo, The Fureys, Lemon Jelly, and Jim Capaldi.
After reuniting for Chris Tassone’s debut album in 2007 (see section headed “Reunion” below), and again for the opening of the Largs Heritage Centre in 2009, the duo re-formed in 2010.
The duo’s wide-ranging instrumental skills have been showcased on their own albums and also on their numerous guest appearances on other performers’ recordings. Gallagher is proficient on acoustic guitar, piano and keyboards, bass guitar, accordion, mandolin, ocarina and harmonica – sometimes using the latter instrument on a harness – while Lyle is a skilled acoustic, lead and slide guitarist, mandolinist and banjoist, and has also been known to play bass guitar, drums, violin and (more rarely) harmonica.
Gallagher is a tenor, with an approximate range of B2-C5, while Lyle is a light baritone with an approximate range of F2-G4.
Their songwriting has covered a wide variety of styles, including folk rock (“Willie”), acoustic blues (“Keep The Candle Burning”), country rock (“Villain of the Peace”), popular ballad (“Fifteen Summers”), blue-eyed soul (“I Wanna Stay With You”), disco (“Showdown”) and even progressive rock (“Sign of the Times”).
The seeds for a reunion were sown in 2007 when both Gallagher and Lyle, as session musicians, appeared on an album by Canadian singer-songwriter Chris Tassone; this was recorded at London’s Abbey Road studios. In April 2009, soon after Lyle’s official retirement, the two Scots attended the opening of the Largs Heritage Centre. The following year, the duo re-formed.
In October 2010, the pair staged two charity concerts in Largs in aid of Haylie House, a residential care home in the town. This was followed in June 2011 by ‘The Big Gig’, an all-star charity concert at Glasgow’s Barrowland nightclub, in which they performed alongside Midge Ure, Jim Diamond and Marti Pellow. In September of that year, the duo appeared at the outdoor MOARE Festival in Faversham, Kent, which was headlined by former Average White Band stalwart Hamish Stuart.
2012 saw Gallagher and Lyle undertake their first tour since 1979, consisting of 9 dates at 8 Scottish venues; all but one of those concerts sold out. Their 22-song set on the tour included all their British chart entries and both their US chart-topping songs, as well as “A Heart in New York” and their classic acoustic song, “Willie”, in which Gallagher used a harmonica on a harness. Their two dates at The Green Hotel in Kinross, a large golf resort, earned them the Mundell Music Award for Best UK Performance of the year, to add to their Tartan Clef Award for Lifetime Achievement, which they had received in November 2010.
The soundtrack to the 2012 documentary film “We Went To War”, directed by Michael Grigsby and relating the stories of three Vietnam War veterans, features the song “I Was A Soldier”, which was written and performed by Gallagher and Lyle.
Gallagher continues to tour the folk circuit periodically as a soloist, or occasionally with his friend, guitarist and singer Bob Wood. In 2009 Gallagher appeared at Byron Bay Blues Festival in New South Wales, Australia. He has been a regular at the Amber Festival in Pitlochry, Perthshire, Scotland, and at the Ram Club in Thames Ditton, Surrey. As well as performing he enjoys holding Songwriting Workshops to encourage and assist aspiring new songwriters.
Lonesome No More
A&M Records 1979
Tracks: Believed In You, Concrete And Steel, Déjà Vu, Diamonds, Fool For Your Love, Lay Me Down And Die, Let Go, Mexico, Missing You, Partners, Wheels & Wide Wide World.
Musicians on the Lonesome No More album: Benny Gallagher & Graham Lyle.
A&M Records 1978
Tracks: Showdown, In Your Eyes, You’re The One, Hurts To Learn, It’s Over, Heartbreaker, Backstage, All Grown Up, Throw Away Heart & Next To You.
Musicians on the Showdown album: Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle, Ray Cooper, Ray Duffy, Alan Hornall & Billy Livesay.
Love On The Airwaves
A&M Records 1977
Tracks: Love On The Airwaves, The Runaway, Every Little Teardrop, Had To Fall In Love, Street Boys, Never Give Up On Love, Dude In The Dark, Head Talk, Call For The Captain & It Only Hurts When I Laugh.
Artists on the Love On The Airwaves album: Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle, Ray Duffy, Alan Hornall, Jimmy Jewell, John Mumford & Iain Rae.
A&M Records 1976
Tracks: Breakaway, Stay Young, I Wanna Stay With You, Heart On My Sleeve, Fifteen Summers, Sign Of The Times, If I Needed Someone, Storm In My Soul, Rockwriter & Northern Girl.
Musicians on the Breakaway album: Benny Gallagher, Graham Lyle, Ray Duffy, Andy Fairweather Low, Alan Hornall, Jimmy Jewell, Billy Livesay, John Mumford & Brian Rogers.