seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy Vocalist & Bassist

Philip Parris “Phil” Lynott, Irish musician, singer, songwriter, and a founding member, principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and bassist of Thin Lizzy, is born on August 20, 1949, in Hallam Hospital in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England.

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.

In 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 of Portugal Church, Richmond, London 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.


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Final Concert by Phil Lynott & Thin Lizzy

thin-lizzy-1983Although a version of the band still tours today, the definitive Thin Lizzy lineup, according to the official Thin Lizzy website, plays its last concert at the Monsters Of Rock festival in Nuremburg, Germany, on September 4, 1983. Afterwards the band members go their separate ways.

Formed in 1969 featuring bass guitarist and lead vocalist Phil Lynott and drummer Brian Downey, the band goes through various members including Gary Moore before Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson join the band in the mid-1970s. Thin Lizzy’s big breakthrough comes with the Jailbreak album in 1976 featuring the hit single The Boys Are Back In Town.

After the success of the Jailbreak album, Thin Lizzy’s popularity begins to subside in the United States, with each successive album finding less success. They manage, however, to maintain a presence in the United Kingdom. Another problem contributing to the band’s demise is Lynott’s drug use, which begins to escalate around this time and eventually ruins his marriage.

Two more Thin Lizzy albums, Renegade and Thunder and Lightning, follow over the next two and half years, as does a second solo offering by Lynott, The Phillip Lynott Album. Despite this things continue to unravel for Lynott and company.

They plan a farewell tour to coincide with the March 1983 release of Thunder and Lightning, which features a heavier approach and proves to be their most popular album in some time. This ends up being a year-long adventure whose high point is a special performance at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon. For the show, Lynott brings in former band members Brian Robertson, Eric Bell, and Gary Moore as special guests.

The final concert in the United Kingdom takes place on August 28, 1983, at the Reading Festival, while their final concert with Lynott in the lineup finds them in Nuremberg on a bill that includes Whitesnake, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Öyster Cult, Motörhead, and others. Lizzy’s set features old favorites along with a few new songs.

Lynott dies on January 4, 1986, of heart failure and pneumonia. Although the band eventually regroups with various ex-members trying to sail the ship, it never rekindles its past success without their leader.