Thin Lizzy

As 1976 came along, Thin Lizzy were just another rock band, with a one-hit past and lit­tle in the way of a fu­ture. Then they re­leased Jail­break, and the boys weren’t so much back in town as run­ning it. But af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing fol­low-up, the pres­sure was

Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Mick Wall

They were just another rock band, then they re­leased Jail­break and joined the A-lis­ters. Now they had to stay there.

For the first five years of their topsy-turvy ca­reer, Thin Lizzy had been also-rans – strictly sec­ond div, with their 1973 nov­elty hit Whiskey In The Jar, their earnest ‘Ir­ish rock’ con­cept al­bums and their con­stantly blur­ring line-ups. Could-have-beens. Maybes. Jokes.

They were saved by the bell of their sixth al­bum, Jail­break, in 1976. For the first time the band suc­cess­fully show­cased their in­tox­i­cat­ing blend of rock-funk-folk-blues blood­let­ting, and overnight Lizzy went from un­in­vited guests to new lead­ers of the pack.

The big hit sin­gle from the al­bum, The Boys Are Back In Town, had taken them from town halls to the big league: mul­ti­ple nights at Lon­don’s Ham­mer­smith Odeon, a first ma­jor tour of Amer­ica, gold records on two con­ti­nents. Cool cats adored by their kit­ties.

Twenty-six-year-old singer and bassist Phil Lynott was the star. Black Brazil­ian fa­ther, white Ir­ish mother, Lynott com­bined the Stagolee swag­ger of Jimi Hen­drix with the street po­et­ics of Van Mor­ri­son.

Flanked by two gen­uine gun­slingers in 20-year-old gui­tarist Brian ‘Robbo’ Robert­son (Scot­tish, fiery, bad for good) and 25-year-old Scott ‘Good Look­ing’ Gorham (So-Cal cool, hair, chick mag­net), in the blis­ter-pop­ping heat­wave of the sum­mer of ’76, no­body in rock car­ried more heat than Thin Lizzy.

Then, al­most be­fore the party got started: the crash. As drum­mer and co-found­ing mem­ber Brian Downey puts it now, speak­ing from his ru­ral Ir­ish abode: “It wasn’t helped by the life­styles the band were liv­ing, but the tim­ing couldn’t have been worse. Peo­ple com­ing down with hep­ati­tis and slashed hands… Sit­u­a­tions that you could never pre­dict would hap­pen – but did hap­pen.”

A pres­ti­gious US arena tour open­ing for Rain­bow had been aban­doned af­ter Lynott – al­ready deep into his po­tions and pow­ders – had picked up hep C from a dirty nee­dle. Flee­ing home to Lon­don, Lynott wrote most of the songs for the band’s hastily sched­uled next al­bum from his hos­pi­tal bed. The re­sult, Johnny The Fox, had ‘fol­low-up’ writ­ten all over it – em­pha­sised by the fact its own hit sin­gle, Don’t Be­lieve A Word, was an al­most iden­tikit Boys Are Back reshuf­fle.

In Bri­tain, it didn’t mat­ter. Lizzy had re­peat hits and even more suc­cess on their win­ter ’76 tour, cul­mi­nat­ing in the sold-out three-night stint at the Ham­mer­smith Odeon that would be recorded and later re­leased as the 1978 Live & Dan­ger­ous dou­ble al­bum. But af­ter a brawl at the Speakeasy in­volv­ing his tough-guy pal, singer Frankie Miller, Robbo slashed his left hand so badly he was told he’d never play again. Lizzy were forced to can­cel their sec­ond US tour in a row – a month of dates in De­cem­ber in­tended to make up for the pre­vi­ous can­cel­la­tion. Lynott was fu­ri­ous.

Ac­cord­ing to Gorham, “Phil had be­come ob­sessed by ev­ery­thing Amer­i­can and re­ally saw the band mak­ing it big there.”

But with Johnny The Fox fail­ing to fol­low Jail­break into the US Top 30, and another tour in tat­ters, Lynott was con­vinced the band had blown their big chance. He was right.

There had been a de­cent at­tempt to re­cover lost ground in Amer­ica with the self-styled Queen-Lizzy tour of the US in the early months of 1977. “We re­ally learned a lot from open­ing for Fred­die and the boys,” says Brian Downey. “They were in a dif­fer­ent league to us.”

The fo­cus now, though, was on en­sur­ing their next al­bum would re­store them to the US charts. They al­ready had the ti­tle, Bad Rep­u­ta­tion, which was a sar­donic re­flec­tion on their dam­aged re­la­tion­ship with Amer­i­can con­cert pro­mot­ers, record com­pany ex­ec­u­tives and ev­ery­one else that had all but thrown in the towel when it came to try­ing to get the band off the ground in the States.

Cliff Bern­stein, then the band’s A&R man at their US la­bel Mercury – and later co-man­ager of Lizzy-wannabes Def Lep­pard – once said: “It broke my heart that Lizzy con­tin­u­ally fucked-up in Amer­ica. In the end you just move on to other things.”

In less than a year, they had gone from be­ing com­pared favourably to Bruce Spring­steen to com­pletely drop­ping out of the con­ver­sa­tion. Bad Rep­u­ta­tion would be their be­lated at­tempt to fix that. “Pro­mot­ers started won­der­ing, ‘Thin Lizzy – they can­celled again?’” says Downey. “They were ques­tion­ing the band’s cred­i­bil­ity. Af­ter that, we had no

“We thought of our­selves as the street punks of that era, so when the punk thing came around, Phil just em­braced it.” Scott Gorham

chance of break­ing Amer­ica un­less we had another mas­sive hit.”

Belfast boy Gary Moore had stepped in to fill Robbo’s shoes for the Queen tour – but on a strictly tem­po­rary ba­sis. Moore-o, as they knew him, had al­ready joined the band and left once be­fore. “He had very high aims as an in­stru­men­tal­ist,” Lynott would later tell me. “He was into jazz rock and very tech­ni­cal stuff.”

Hav­ing known Moore since they were teenagers in Ire­land, how­ever, Lynott also knew how badly the gui­tarist wanted to be a star. When Moore de­clined to con­tinue re­plac­ing Robbo for the

Bad Rep­u­ta­tion ses­sions, Lynott was pre­pared to play a wait­ing game, and de­cided to record the al­bum with just Gorham on guitar.

“Phil said: ‘Fuck it, we’ll just do the thing our­selves,’” Gorham said. “Lizzy had started as a three-piece – I guess he fig­ured it would be no big deal. But I loved Robbo and I wasn’t at all sure about han­dling a whole al­bum on my own.”

Robert­son, mean­while, put on a brave front.

“I’m get­ting my own band to­gether!” he bragged to any­one who would lis­ten. But in truth he was dev­as­tated to find him­self on the out­side.

“Phil and I had our dif­fer­ences,” he said at the time, un­der­stat­ing the case more than a lit­tle,

“but we al­ways worked well to­gether.”

In truth, Lynott rarely ven­tured over to Robbo’s side of the stage, in­stead throw­ing his best shapes in tan­dem with Gorham, with whom he felt a much greater kin­ship. Phil and Robbo would fight – “Phil had hands like fuck­ing shov­els!” – and Robbo would in­vari­ably come off worse. Phil and Scott would hang out, go­ing out to clubs, do­ing coke, smack, what­ever; pulling chicks.

“Phil and I had this kind of clique thing go­ing,” says Gorham. “Like our own lan­guage, lit­tle looks and things. That made it kind of tough some­times when some­one new came into the band. Like, you’re in the band now but you’re gonna have to prove your­self first be­fore you get re­ally in with us.

“A big rea­son why Phil and I be­came such good friends was be­cause we trusted each other. No names, but maybe with some of the other guys, he never quite trusted them. We al­ways tended to agree, mu­si­cally. Not al­ways on al­bum but def­i­nitely on stage. Also, I’ve never been wor­ried about be­ing a big star, so that never came be­tween us ei­ther, where maybe it did with some of the other [gui­tarists].”

Robbo fan­cied his chances as a front­man. Moore ac­tu­ally be­came a front­man. Lynott had a head start on both of them and was de­ter­mined that Bad Rep­u­ta­tion would help keep it that way. But it was the twinned har­monies of Robbo’s guitar in­ter­play with Gorham that de­fined the Lizzy sound – Robbo’s beau­ti­fully tele­graphed so­los and in­tri­cate flour­ishes that fi­nessed Lizzy’s badass hard rock into some­thing more lyri­cal and en­tic­ing.

Lynott knew work­ing with­out his fire­brand gui­tarist was a risk. To plug the gap, Tony Vis­conti was hired to pro­duce. Vis­conti was then at the peak of his 70s pow­ers, hav­ing pro­duced all 20 of T. Rex’s ma­jor hit sin­gles and al­bums, be­fore lat­terly work­ing with David Bowie on some of his most in­flu­en­tial record­ings.

At the time it seemed like a coup for Lizzy to have some­one of Vis­conti’s stature in­volved. (Bowie’s Vis­conti-pro­duced Low al­bum was No.2 in the UK at the time.) Speak­ing now, though, from his Lon­don home, Vis­conti says he saw it as a no-brainer. “I just loved The Boys Are Back In Town. For me, it was the best sin­gle of that sum­mer. Then when I met Phil a few months later, he charmed me. He had such charisma. I jumped at the chance of work­ing with them.”

At Vis­conti’s sug­ges­tion, they worked out of Toronto Stu­dios in Canada through May and June 1977. The pro­ducer – pri­vately dis­ap­pointed not to have Robbo there for the du­ra­tion – de­cided the best way for­ward was to bring the bass and drums more for­ward in the mix, push­ing the lone guitar back, a tech­nique he’d de­vel­oped while work­ing with Bowie on The Man Who Sold The World.

A bassist him­self, Vis­conti knew the value of hav­ing a strong, tex­tured bass lead the sound. He then em­bel­lished that sound with strings, sax, clar­inet, key­boards, syn­the­sis­ers and gongs, adding greater panache to the band’s rough­house sound.

He also took a firm stance on Lynott’s and Gorham’s spi­ralling ‘par­ty­ing’. “It got to the stage where it was af­fect­ing work on the al­bum,” he says. “In the end I had to phone man­age­ment and ask them to get out here and help me sort it out.”

Now record­ing their third ‘make or break’ al­bum in a year, Gorham says: “What hap­pened to Phil was prob­a­bly a di­rect re­sult of that. ‘Jeez, I gotta keep my shit to­gether. I gotta find in­spi­ra­tion. I gotta keep up, man. Hey, chop me out a line of that coke…’ Then next time it would be two lines. We needed that fuck­ing joy juice, man, just to get us up to keep us work­ing. We fig­ured the drugs were the only things that were sav­ing us. Now, that’s a crazy way to think, but that’s the way it was back then.”

Lizzy co-man­ager Chris O’Don­nell duly flew out from Lon­don and read them the riot act: you have lost your prin­ci­pal gui­tarist, your last al­bum was a dud in Amer­ica, punk is now tak­ing over

“Bad Rep­u­ta­tion was def­i­nitely an im­prove­ment on Johnny The Fox. But it didn’t do very much for us in the end.” Brian Downey

ev­ery­thing in the UK, if you fuck this al­bum up it’s the end of your ca­reer.

“Ev­ery­thing was fine af­ter that,” says Vis­conti. “The guys knuck­led down and we re­ally be­gan mak­ing what I still like to think be­came one of their best al­bums.”

Most of the songs had been worked out be­fore they ar­rived in Toronto. Now reach­ing the peak of his song­writ­ing prow­ess, Lynott came in with some of his best ma­te­rial, not least al­bum opener Sol­dier Of For­tune. It boasted a spacy Pink Floyd faded-in in­tro and a quick lock into deep grooves, Gorham do­ing a fine job of twin­ning his own gui­tars, with Lynott in full-on sto­ry­telling mode.

“I started off writ­ing the song to put down merce­nar­ies,” he ex­plained at the time. “Say­ing how dis­gust­ing it was go­ing off and be­com­ing a trained killer. Then as I started to write the lyrics, I be­gan to re­alise that ev­ery­body has a lit­tle bit of mer­ce­nary blood in them. You know, like some­times I’m real bru­tal with chicks – just go af­ter them, get what I want and ‘see you later’. Ev­ery­thing I do and say is to get what I want. So at the end of the song I had to say: ‘I am a sol­dier of for­tune.’ So it wasn’t as heavy as it was ini­tially in­tended to be cos as I looked more into it, it wasn’t a sim­ple ques­tion of black and white.”

This ob­ser­va­tion lay at the heart of the more ma­ture ma­te­rial Lynott was now writ­ing. Not that Lizzy lost any of their sting, as the ti­tle track, which fol­lowed, ably demon­strated with its war-drum riff and sneer­ing vo­cals, though again with a mourn­ful glance side­ways: ‘You’re too sly/So cold/That bad rep­u­ta­tion/Has made you old…’

A co-write be­tween Lynott, Gorham and Downey, Bad Rep­u­ta­tion would re­place Sha La

La on tour as the show­case for the drum­mer’s spec­tac­u­larly per­cus­sive solo.

“I re­mem­ber that riff knock­ing around for a good while be­fore we recorded it,” Downey re­calls. “It was a great num­ber to play. The un­usual time sig­na­ture [6/4] was Phil’s idea. Scott and I put the rest of it to­gether, all the lit­tle em­bel­lish­ments that re­ally brought the song out. But Phil had the lyrics writ­ten be­fore we’d got­ten into the stu­dio.”

Side one, as it was in those days, also fea­tured a third ut­terly cli­mac­tic Lizzy track in Opium Trail. ‘I took a line that leads you to the opium trial,’ sang Lynott, and you knew he wasn’t mak­ing it up.

Again, song­writ­ing cred­its went to all three band mem­bers, but lyri­cally this was one from the heart from Lynott. In in­ter­views, he would talk con­vinc­ingly of be­ing in­flu­enced by see­ing a TV doc­u­men­tary on the Golden States Of Shan – that shit-pool on the bor­ders of North Viet­nam, Burma and China where 50 per cent of the world’s heroin trade was then said to come from. “It’s an an­tidrugs song,” he would in­sist, straight-faced.

In truth, Lynott had been dip­ping in and out of H for heaven for over a year. So had Scott and Robbo. Mu­si­cally, how­ever, this was Lizzy at another peak, com­plete with a fiery new Robbo solo. Gorham says: “It was me that talked Phil into bring­ing Robbo back for some of Bad Rep­u­ta­tion. I was try­ing to get the magic cir­cle back to­gether again and he’s not buy­ing it. But he fi­nally re­lented. ‘All right, but just fuck­ing keep him away from me…’”

Re­call­ing his brief time in Toronto, Robbo said: “I wouldn’t even fuck­ing speak to Phil the first week I was there, wouldn’t hang out, noth­ing.”

Vis­conti later re­called how af­ter Robbo had com­pleted his solo on Opium Trail, “I in­vited him back to the con­trol room to hear the play­back. He just said no, he’d rather not, and left. It was a pity be­cause it was a great piece of work.”

Even­tu­ally, a rap­proche­ment was ten­ta­tively en­tered into. But the bond was frag­ile. “Me and Scott al­ways got on great with Robbo,” says Downey. “But it had got to the point where Phil and Robbo weren’t even talk­ing. Then in the stu­dio with Vis­conti, they grad­u­ally got it to­gether again. They were talk­ing, at least.”

The rest of the al­bum’s six tracks were split evenly be­tween the good and the great. The good: the poignant South­bound, the phoned-in Killer With­out A Cause (The Boy Are Back… but only some of them), and the gen­tly con­trived Down­town Sun­down. Lynott said of the lat­ter song: “Be­cause I wrote Don’t Be­lieve A Word, ev­ery chick I went out with af­ter that used to throw it back in my face – ‘I don’t be­lieve a word you’re say­ing.’ So I fig­ured I’d write a song that was ac­tu­ally a state­ment of love, so this would be an an­swer to it, and there’s a line in it that goes, ‘Please be­lieve in love, I be­lieve there is a God above for love,’ you know?”

The great: the lilt­ing, loi­ter­ing choco­latey pop of Danc­ing In The Moon­light, des­tined to be­come the al­bum’s sig­na­ture sin­gle and Lizzy’s big­gest and best hit song af­ter Boys; and That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart, a won­der­ful big-sky pro­duc­tion, with Robbo al­lowed back in to add his dis­tinc­tive lead flour­ishes over Gorham’s taut acous­tic strum-a-thon. It could have sig­nalled a whole new di­rec­tion for Lizzy, be­yond the jail­house rock and into the wide blue open of or­ches­tral pop.

And then there was the al­bum’s most im­pres­sive mo­ment, Dear Lord. Co-writ­ten by Lynott and Gorham, Dear Lord was the clos­est Thin Lizzy ever got to pure artis­tic tran­scen­dence. The mu­sic is sweep­ing, epic, again closer to Pink Floyd than the quasi-metal out­fit the band would shrink to in the 80s. Lynott de­liv­ers one of his deep­est, most hon­est, no-jive lyrics, with its ex­quis­ite pay-off: ‘Dear Lord… I be­lieve your story now you be­lieve mine.’ Lynott on the phone to God: not pray­ing, just say­ing, with an­gelic back­ing vo­cals by Vis­conti’s wife, Mary Hop­kin.

Ac­cord­ing to Gary Moore, speak­ing years later, Lynott – who would pub­lish his sec­ond vol­ume of po­etry, sim­ply ti­tled Philip, around the same time Bad Rep­u­ta­tion was made – was a word­smith first, singer sec­ond, bassist third.

“He’d spend more time on the words than the mu­sic be­cause he found the mu­sic not that dif­fi­cult. They were very sim­ple songs, you know? He’d play you Danc­ing In The Moon­light on the acous­tic guitar and you’d go, ‘Is that it?’ Then you’d hear the fin­ished thing and un­der­stand what he’d been so en­thu­si­as­tic about be­cause he was hear­ing it as the fin­ished thing in his head.”

With Danc­ing In The

Moon­light and Bad Rep­u­ta­tion re­leased as a dou­ble A-sided hit sin­gle in the sum­mer of 1977, and pre-re­lease re­views for the al­bum glow­ing, the band, with Robbo back in tow, head­lined that year’s Read­ing Fes­ti­val.

They were back where they be­longed – on top, mama, bet­ter get your fuck-on be­low. The al­bum reached No.4 in the UK, mak­ing it their biggestchart­ing hit. Yet when it came out in Amer­ica, it barely touched the sides, drag­ging its heels as far as No.39, then fall­ing off its horse again.

“Bad Rep­u­ta­tion was def­i­nitely an im­prove­ment on Johnny The Fox,” says Brian Downey. “But it didn’t do very much for us in the end, even though it was a great al­bum. The prob­lem was that by then the band did have a bad rep­u­ta­tion, cer­tainly when it came to Amer­ica.”

“I wouldn’t even f**king speak to Phil the first week I was there, wouldn’t hang out, noth­ing.” Brian Robert­son

When the front cover of Bad Rep­u­ta­tion car­ried a sim­ple black-and-white pic­ture of just Downey, Gorham and Lynott – no Robbo – it only served to un­der­line how much the band’s mys­tique had mushed into mis­un­der­stand­ing.

Downey says: “I didn’t agree with that but I was out­voted. Ev­ery­one just wanted the three of us be­cause ev­ery­body knew that af­ter this al­bum, Robbo would be gone.”

In fact, Robbo con­tin­ued ‘guest­ing’ with the band for another 12 months. But it was get­ting hard to keep up with what was re­ally go­ing on. Get­ting harder to care.

The af­ter­math of Bad Rep­u­ta­tion found Thin Lizzy liv­ing in a world where on one side of the planet – Bri­tain, Europe, Aus­tralia – they had never been big­ger, while on the other – Am-er-ee-ca – they had ef­fec­tively blown it.

“Ev­ery now and again some­thing would come along that seemed to stop the band in its tracks. And that seemed to hap­pen a lot,” says Downey. “Es­pe­cially over those years when the band was on a crest of a wave. We had so much bad luck.” He pauses, then chuck­les. “We could have avoided it by liv­ing a bit more cleanly but it’s easy to say that now. That’s the way the band was back then. There’s no get­ting away from that.”

Drugs were nor­mal; to be en­cour­aged, in fact. “Yeah,” Downey says. “It makes my eyes wa­ter now just think­ing about it.”

In­stead of fol­low­ing Queen and Led Zep­pelin into the front­line of Amer­i­can rock mythol­ogy, Thin Lizzy now found them­selves be­ing lauded by the new wave of punk stars who saw them as the rule-break­ers of rock roy­alty – one of us, guv.

“We thought of our­selves as the street punks of that era,” says Gorham. “All the other rock bands of the era were slick, vo­cal har­monies. We weren’t like that. So when the punk thing came around, Phil just em­braced it. ‘Thank fuck, man! There’s other peo­ple out there like us!’”

Lynott also saw the cred­i­bil­ity by as­so­ci­a­tion fac­tor of be­ing photographed with Sid and Nancy, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, and play­ing gigs around Lon­don – half-Lizzy, half-Pis­tols – as the Greedy Bas­tards.

“Phil was al­ways very me­di­asavvy,” says Gorham. “Phil loved do­ing Top Of The Pops. He just loved be­ing on TV. We would go out and do a video and no­body would play it be­cause there was no MTV in those days, so it would be­come this whole fi­nan­cial waste of time. But by God we had a video!”

It was around this time that the mu­sic press be­gan spritz­ing ru­mours of Lynott star­ring in a movie about Jimi Hen­drix. It wasn’t true, but as Gorham says, “Phil never de­nied it be­cause it was a great story and got a lot of press.

“Phil knew the value of print, he knew the value of a pic­ture in a mag­a­zine. He had it down, he had a map, he just knew this shit. We would do mil­lions of fuck­ing photo ses­sions, get­ting dressed up in dif­fer­ent out­fits. Then right at the end of ev­ery shoot he would say: ‘All right, now let’s have a nice lit­tle smi­ley one for the teeny mags’ – which I fuck­ing hated. But he was right, of course, be­cause those mags did use those shots. You never had to beg Phil for a pic­ture. Even the drug busts he loved. ‘Hey man, you see my drug bust in the pa­per?’”

It would be another two years be­fore Lizzy recorded another orig­i­nal al­bum, the void filled with Live & Dan­ger­ous, of­fi­cially Robbo’s last re­lease with the band, and still their best-sell­ing col­lec­tion. It was only kept from No.1 in the UK by the Bee Gees’ Satur­day Night Fever sound­track.

Con­vinced Lizzy had gone as far as they could go, Lynott also looked se­ri­ously into the pos­si­bil­ity of mak­ing a solo al­bum. He’d been talk­ing about it since Rod Ste­wart aban­doned his band, the Faces, for a suc­cess­ful solo ca­reer in 1975. “Phil thought he could be the new Rod Ste­wart,” says Downey. “He had the looks and the grav­elly voice. He even talked to Rod’s man­age­ment about it.”

In the event, Lynott would have to wait un­til 1980 be­fore see­ing that dream come true. Mean­while, Robbo was ousted for the last time.

“We were all hop­ing Robbo would stay on the straight and nar­row but he’d fallen off the wagon again,” says Downey. “Robbo and Phil weren’t get­ting on too well again. I per­son­ally didn’t want to see the most suc­cess­ful ver­sion of Thin Lizzy fall­ing apart be­fore we’d even got started. I thought this should be sorted out. Hope­fully it’s just a pass­ing phase. But it just kept go­ing on. Ev­ery time we went on tour, some sort of ar­gu­ment cropped up and the an­i­mos­ity started all over again.”

It came down to it be­ing ei­ther Phil or Robbo who would have to leave. No con­test. “I think Phil would have walked if Robbo didn’t.”

Gary Moore now came back in. Lynott agreed to ap­pear on three tracks on Moore’s 1978 solo al­bum, Back On The Streets – in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal, slowed-down, soul­ful ver­sion of Don’t Be­lieve

A Word and a new co-write be­tween the two, with Lynott on lead vo­cals, en­ti­tled Parisi­enne Walk­ways. But again, the clouds came back when the lat­ter track be­came a hit sin­gle, and both men ver­bally scuf­fled over who de­served the most credit.

Look­ing back now, 40 years on from its re­lease, it’s im­pos­si­ble not to see Bad Rep­u­ta­tion as both the peak of Thin Lizzy and the be­gin­ning of a long, drawn-out end. Brian Downey walked out not long af­ter Gary Moore re­joined. “I was burnt out,” he says. “My health was re­ally suf­fer­ing. I needed to get away.”

En­ticed back for the Black Rose al­bum in 1979, only to see Moore walk out for the third and fi­nal time half­way through the sub­se­quent Amer­i­can tour, Downey looks back now on what he calls

“the Thin Lizzy curse” with the ad­mirably bal­anced per­spec­tive that only time and space can bring.

“I try to for­give the bad and fo­cus on the good times. In the stu­dio, we never did 25 fuck­ing takes of any­thing. On al­bums like Bad Rep­u­ta­tion, if things weren’t hap­pen­ing, Phil would al­ways come up with a mas­ter plan to save the song.

‘Okay, this is the new ar­range­ment I have an idea for.’ And the new ar­range­ment would nor­mally work. That just shows you how tal­ented Phil was.”

And how bril­liant and unique Thin Lizzy re­ally were. And why their real rep­u­ta­tion will out­live them for­ever.

Lynott with Fred­die Mercury, Roger Tay­lor and John Dea­con dur­ing the 1977 Queen-Lizzy tour of the USA.

Danc­ing in the moon­light, caught in the spot­light: Robbo and Lynott at the 1977 Read­ing Fes­ti­val.

Thin Lizzy in New York City, 1977: (l-r) Brian Robert­son, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Phil Lynott.

Gorham, Downey and Lynott in Copen­hagen, Au­gust 24, 1977.

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