When Phil Lynott, the legendary frontman of Thin Lizzy, passed away on January 4, 1986, it was a rock n’ roll tragedy similar to when we lost Randy Rhoads in the sense that he never lived to see Lizzy get their due.
If you recall, Rhoads was killed in a plane crash right as Ozzy’s solo career was about to explode. In fact, to this day the band is very under-rated in the grand scheme of things, but have proven very influential to countless bands, Iron Maiden and Metallica are just two that come to mind.
Vivian Campbell, guitarist for Def Leppard and Dio, recently told Vintage Guitar he learned how to play guitar playing along with Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous album, and now Campbell’s playing in a revival of Thin Lizzy, along with guitarist Scott Gorham, and drummer Brian Downey.
Of course, Lynott can never be replaced, but the band is still out there keeping the music alive, and back in the ’70’s, Lizzy had a fierce reputation in the live arena. (Thin Lizzy were the first Irish band to tour nationally in the Seventies, opening the door for U2.)
As Gorham recalls, “Sometimes when you see things aren’t going your way on stage, somebody will lean over and say, ‘hey man, we’ll cut a couple of songs out and get the fu** out of here.’ Phil wouldn’t hear of that. He was the one who gave everyone a kick in the ass: ‘We’re gonna go up the front of the stage, we’re not gonna give up on these people, and we’re gonna win this game.’ I look back on it, and I really dig him for it.'”
The band’s best known radio hit, The Boys Are Back In Town, was written about Lynott’s adventures in New York. As they were recording their Jailbreak album, one of their managers, Chris O’Donnell, picked The Boys Are Back in Town as a single, a song the band originally rejected. “Thank God our manager said he liked it,” says Gorham.
“I always looked up to Phil and respected him,” says John Sykes, one of several amazing guitar players wwho played in the Lizzy ranks. “He lived every minute and every second of it. He wasn’t fu****’ around, and it wasn’t a game. Phil might have had a shortened life on this planet, but I can guarantee that he probably lived more life in his thirty-six years than a fu****’ hundred people lived.”