“You got a bad reputation
That’s the word out on the town
It gives a certain fascination
But it can only bring you down“
The coolest rock star in the seventies when I was at school was Phil Lynott. He could not only sing, he was backed up by not one but two guitarists, he always had the girls and he gave a great interview – if the Careers Officer had given us the option to study how to become Phil Lynott then we’d never have skipped lessons!
Thin Lizzy were also the unofficial cheerleaders of the school rugby team. After a game on the coach we used to get out an old cassette player and play “The Boys Are Back In Town” over and over again – we were those fighting, drinking boys (at least we were until our mothers picked us up from the school gates).
The roots of Thin Lizzy can be traced back to the first group Phil Lynott formed with drummer Brian Downey, The Black Eagles. This group was shortlived (Phil was still at school) but it did begin the relationship between Brian and Phil. The next stage in the development of Thin Lizzy was Phil’s bass playing and songwriting. This came when he joined Skid Row (who had Gary Moore on lead guitar), again the relationship was brief but now Phil had all the key aspects in place to form his own group.
The first line up of Thin Lizzy consisted of Phil, Brian and Eric Bell (lead guitar) and, after extensive gigging, hit the charts with “Whisky in the Jar”. While the single was not typical of their style (it was their version of an Irish folk song) it gave them a taste of fame. Unfortunately the group found it difficult to follow up this success.
The classic Thin Lizzy line-up appeared in 1974 when Eric Bell left the group and was replaced by Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. This gave the group their acclaimed two ‘axe’ approach that influenced both their live act and studio recordings. However they still had to wait for the big time and it wasn’t until 1976 that the group hit the charts with “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak”. Both these classic singles demonstrated the group’s blend of style with a hint of violence and showed them more than capable of seeing off the punk rock revolution that was on the horizon.
The group continued to build their reputation with critically acclaimed albums and successful hit singles supported by an amazing live show that made the most of Phil’s stagecraft. They, arguably, reached their pinnacle with the release of the double live album “Live and Dangerous” in 1978. This caught them at the height of their powers and is recognised as one of the greatest live albums of all time.
Thin Lizzy went through a number of personnel changes following this release and in 1983 the group split up. While a reformed Thin Lizzy now tours the ingredient that made them unique, Phil Lynott, died in 1986.