seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Thin Lizzy’s “Whiskey in the Jar” Charts in UK

whiskey-in-the-jarWhiskey in the Jar” by Thin Lizzy enters the UK charts on January 20, 1973.

“Whiskey in the Jar” is the tale of a highwayman or footpad who, after robbing a military or government official, is betrayed by a woman. Whether she is his wife or sweetheart is not made clear. Various versions of the song take place in County Kerry, Kilmoganny, Cork, Sligo, and other locales throughout Ireland. It is also sometimes placed in the American South, in various places among the Ozarks or Appalachians, possibly due to Irish settlement in these places. Names in the song change, and the official can be a Captain or a Colonel, called Farrell or Pepper among other names. The protagonist’s wife or lover is sometimes called Molly, Jenny, Emzy, or Ginny among various other names. The details of the betrayal are also different, being either betraying him to the person he robbed and replacing his ammunition with sand or water, or not, resulting in his killing the person.

The song’s exact origins are unknown. The song first gains wide exposure when the Irish folk band The Dubliners perform it internationally as a signature song, and record it on three albums in the 1960s. In the United States, the song is popularized by The Highwaymen, who record it on their 1962 album Encore. Building on their success, the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy hits the Irish and British pop charts with the song in 1973. In 1990 The Dubliners re-record the song with The Pogues with a faster rocky version charting at No.4 in Ireland and No.63 in the UK. The American metal band Metallica brings it to a wider rock audience in 1998 by playing a version very similar to that of Thin Lizzy’s, though with a heavier sound, winning a Grammy Award for the song in 2000 for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Thin Lizzy’s 1972 single stays at the top of the Irish charts for 17 weeks, and the British release stays in the top 30 for 12 weeks, peaking at No. 6, in 1973. This version has since been covered by U2, Pulp (first released on a 1996 various artist compilation album Childline and later on deluxe edition of Different Class in 2006), Smokie, Metallica (Garage Inc. 1998, which wins a Grammy), Belle and Sebastian (The Blues Are Still Blue EP 2006), Gary Moore (2006), Nicky Moore (Top Musicians Play Thin Lizzy 2008), Simple Minds (Searching for the Lost Boys 2009), and Israeli musician Izhar Ashdot. The song is also on the Grateful Dead live compilation So Many Roads (1965-1995) disc five.

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U2 Fights to Save Hanover Quay Recording Studio

u2On January 29, 2002, at a public hearing at the Gresham Hotel, rock superstars U2 battle to save their recording studios at Hanover Quay in the Grand Canal Dock area of Ringsend, a southside inner suburb of Dublin, from being pulled to the ground.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority wants to clear the way for a major new leisure development on a Hanover Quay site which contains a number of buildings including the band’s one-story recording studio. Talks between the band and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority fail to result in a compromise.

Citing the multi-million-pound records sales and musical heritage that have resulted from their use of the Hanover Street site since 1994, the band members submit to An Bord Pleanála (Irish Planning Appeals Board) a formal, nine page objection to the proposed plan. The band recorded their All That You Can’t Leave Behind album and a portion of their Pop album at the studio.

In addition to U2’s complaint, three other parties raise formal objections, including businessman Harrie Crosbie, millionaire businessman and Point Depot owner, who also owns small business premises at the Hanover Quay site.

In a statement released in the evening, the band says that while they love the docklands and are very happy with their present studio, they “appreciate that change is inevitable and often for the best.” They disclose that they are continuing discussions with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority but would consider moving to another location in the vicinity should a suitable property be offered.

The hearing continues into a second day.

Ultimately, on June 17, 2002, U2 loses the battle to save the Hanover Quay recording studio from demolition when An Bord Pleanála gives the go-ahead for the redevelopment of the Hanover Quay site. The band later reaches an agreement with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority for a replacement studio building which allows them to remain in the docklands area.


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Van Morrison Inducted Into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

van-morrisonVan Morrison, known as “Van the Man” to his fans, is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, on January 23, 1993.

Born George Ivan Morrison in Belfast in 1945, Morrison has received six Grammy Awards (1996-2007), the 1994 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and has been inducted into the Irish Music Hall of Fame (September 1999) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (June 2003). In 2015 he is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his musical achievements and his services to tourism and charitable causes in Northern Ireland.

Morrison’s influence can readily be heard in the music of a diverse array of major artists and according to The Rolling Stone’s Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, “his influence among rock singers/song writers is unrivaled by any living artist outside of that other prickly legend, Bob Dylan. Echoes of Morrison’s rugged literateness and his gruff, feverish emotive vocals can be heard in latter day icons ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Elvis Costello.”

Morrison is inducted into the Hall along with luminaries Ruth Brown, Cream, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Doors, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, and Etta James. In his induction speech of Morrison, the Band’s Robbie Robertson says, “In the tradition of the great Irish poets and the great soul singers, he is the Caruso of rock and roll.” Morrison becomes notable as the first living inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not to attend his own ceremony. Robertson accepts the award on Morrison’s behalf.

This “Caruso of rock and roll” and magnificent songwriter is also one of the most curmudgeonly live performers in rock and roll history. The satirical Onion newspaper writes of him, “Morrison deserves a spot in the Rock Hall based on his record-breaking streak of 4,256 consecutive shows performed without cracking a smile.”


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Death of Phil Lynott

phil-lynottPhilip Parris “Phil” Lynott, Irish musician, singer, songwriter, and a founding member, principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and bassist of Thin Lizzy, dies on January 4, 1986, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England.

Born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England in 1949, Lynott goes to live with his grandmother, Sarah Lynott, in Crumlin, Dublin when he is four years old. He is introduced to music through his uncle Timothy’s record collection and becomes influenced by Tamla Motown and The Mamas and the Papas.

Growing up in Dublin in the 1960s, Lynott fronts several bands as a lead vocalist, most notably teaming up with bassist Brendan ‘Brush’ Shiels to form Skid Row in early 1968. It is during this period that Lynott learns to play the bass guitar.

Toward the end of 1969, Lynott, now confident enough to play bass himself in a band, teams with Brian Downey, Eric Bell, and Eric Wrixon to form Thin Lizzy. The band’s first top ten hit comes in 1973 with a rock version of the well-known Irish traditional song Whiskey in the Jar. With the release of the Jailbreak album in 1976, Lynott and Thin Lizzy become international superstars on the strength of the album’s biggest hit, The Boys Are Back in Town. The song reaches the Top 10 in the United Kingdom, No. 1 in Ireland, and is a hit in the United States and Canada.

Having finally achieved mainstream success, Thin Lizzy embarks on several consecutive world tours. However, the band suffers from personnel changes. By the early 1980s, Thin Lizzy is starting to struggle commercially and Lynott starts showing symptoms of drug abuse, including regular asthma attacks. After the resignation of longtime manager Chris O’Donnell, Lynott decides to disband Thin Lizzy in 1983.

phil-lynott-statueIn 1984, Lynott forms a new band, Grand Slam, with Doish Nagle, Laurence Archer, Robbie Brennan, and Mark Stanway. The band tours various clubs but suffers from being labeled a poor version of Thin Lizzy due to the inclusion of two lead guitarists. Grand Slam disbands at the end of the year due to a lack of money and Lynott’s increasing addiction to heroin.

Lynott’s last years are dogged by drug and alcohol dependency leading to his collapse on December 25, 1985, at his home in Kew. He is taken to Salisbury Infirmary where he is diagnosed as suffering from septicemia. His condition worsens by the start of the new year and he is put on a respirator. He dies of pneumonia and heart failure due to septicemia in the hospital’s intensive care unit on January 4, 1986, at the age of 36.

Lynott’s funeral is held at St. Elizabeth’s Church, Richmond on January 9, 1986, with most of Thin Lizzy’s ex-members in attendance, followed by a second service at Howth Parish Church on January 11. He is buried in St. Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton, Dublin.