'Is there anybody here with any Irish in them? Is there any of the girls who’d like a little more Irish in them?' – Phil Lynott to the crowd on “Live and Dangerous”
Born in 1949, Phil had the odds stacked against him from the start, a half caste child of a single woman he learnt to grow up fast in Dublin. This difficult childhood however gave him the style he would take on through his musical career – that of a tough loner looking in from the outside.
Deciding on a life in music while he was still at school, he formed his first group, The Black Eagles, with drummer Brian Downey. Playing gigs around Dublin allowed him to develop his vocal style but the group was short lived. Following this he joined the local group Skid Row, who had one Gary Moore on lead guitar, and, deciding that he needed a ‘second string to his bow’, began to learn to play bass. The bass playing, and the structure it taught him, led Phil on to writing his own songs. However whilst he learnt a lot, his time with the group was short-lived as it soon reverted to a 3 piece.
Out on his own Phil formed Orphanage, a fluid group with a fluid set, and it wasn’t until he met Eric Bell that firm roots were put down and Thin Lizzy was born. Extensive gigging and a recording contract resulted in Phil’s first taste of chart success with “Whiskey in the Jar”, a contemporary take on an Irish folk song. Full success and critical acclaim didn’t arrive however until the classic line up of Thin Lizzy in 1974; with Eric Bell leaving, Phil and Brian recruited two guitarists in the form of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson giving the group a perfect two ‘axe’ attack.
While this was the classic lineup it still took time for Phil and the boys to make the big time. It was until 1976 that the group exploded on the scene with two standout Lynott tracks “The Boys Are Back In Town” and “Jailbreak” after years of hard work Thin Lizzy were an ‘overnight success’! Making the most of the limelight Phil both played and partied hard and became the coolest of rock stars.
With the subsequent albums “Johnny The Fox” and “Bad Reputation” building the group’s reputation Thin Lizzy were heading towards the peak of their rock career – the double live album “Live and Dangerous”. This recording is recognized as one of the greatest live albums ever released and it catches them at the height of their powers, with subsequent personnel changes the group never matched it terms of critical acclaim and in 1983 the group split up.
Away from Thin Lizzy, Phil took an active part in the music scene recording with, amongst others, Johnny Thunders and some ex-Pistols. Releasing well received solo albums, alongside books of poetry, playing with Gary Moore and recording a new theme for the UK institution that was “Top of the Pops” Phil’s music was opening out to a wider audience. Whether Phil would have rescaled the heights he had previously conquered will never be known as in 1986 his party lifestyle caught up with him and he died of a drugs overdose.