The boys are back in town
Thin Lizzy is an Irish hard rock band who formed in Dublin in 1969. The band was originally led by bassist, songwriter and singer Phil Lynott. They are well known for their 1976 song "The Boys Are Back in Town" - a major international hit still played on hard rock and classic rock radio stations.
Though others had earlier used similar techniques, Thin Lizzy is widely recognised as one of the first hard rock bands to employ double lead guitar harmony (the twin guitar clash) - a technique pioneered by Wishbone Ash in the UK, whilst independently in the USA by Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band. This style was later refined and popularised by bands of the emerging New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden especially. The latter group in particular has praised Thin Lizzy extensively and even covered the song "Massacre" from Lizzy's popular Live and Dangerous album. Examples of this duel guitar harmony technique include "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Cowboy Song" from Jailbreak. Brian Robertson's unconventional use of the wah-pedal as an extension of the instrument during soloing rather than as a purely rhythmic effect, as described in the Total Accuracy video "Still in Love with the Blues" (featuring Brian Robertson & Stuart Bull), is a distinctive and influential sound.
Lynott is one of the few black men to achieve significant success in hard rock. As well as being a multiracial band, members were drawn from both sides of the Irish border and from both Catholic and Protestant communities.
The group was founded in late 1969 in Dublin, Ireland, by Lynott, guitarist Eric Bell, electric organist Eric Wrixon and drummer Brian Downey. Wrixon was gone by early 1970, and tiring of the limited possibilities in Dublin, the group relocated to London in 1971.
Signing a contract with Decca Records, Thin Lizzy's first hit came in 1973, with "Whiskey in the Jar", a version of a traditional Irish song. (Metallica scored a major hit with their 1998 cover version, featured on their album Garage Inc., winning them a Grammy in 1999).
However, the group initially had problems matching the success of "Whiskey...", and after a disastrous gig, where a drunken Bell walked offstage, leaving Lynott and Downey alone onstage, Bell left the group by mutual consent. His immediate replacement was Lynott's former Skid Row band mate and guitarist Gary Moore who stayed long enough to record a number of tracks including the single 'Little Darlin' and 'Still In Love With You' (which he co wrote but wasn't credited, although towards the end of his life, after Lizzy's breakup, Lynott was always the first to confirm that 'Still In Love With You' was "Gary's Song") and securing a new record deal with Phonogram Records. After this Lynott and Downey regrouped, recruiting Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson as guitarists to make what was arguably the classic Thin Lizzy lineup.
Fighting (1975) was their first album success, however the following album, Jailbreak, was a smash hit thanks to the singles "Jailbreak" and the above video "The Boys Are Back in Town", their most successful and remembered song.
Robertson quit the group in 1978, and was replaced by Gary Moore, then a succession of guitarists (including Midge Ure at one stage), though the group was sometimes reduced to the core trio of Lynott, Gorham and Downey. They kept their devoted fanbase, but Thin Lizzy was unable to match their earlier successes.
During the late 1970s and early 80s, Thin Lizzy played to a rabid fanbase but was unable to break into mainstream markets. Unlike most established rock musicians, Lynott was a vocal supporter of early punk rock; this endeared him to some punk musicians and fans, but many more punks rejected Thin Lizzy as a useless relic.
Their live shows at this time were no-nonsense, no special effects affairs relying purely on the music and Lynott's rapport with the fans. Encores would feature Lynott seemingly ignoring repeated requests from the crowd for "The Rocker". Eventually, he would say "This is what I want to play... a song called The Rocker" and the band would launch into the crowd favourite. Their critically acclaimed live album Live and Dangerous has been called one of the best examples in the genre of concert recordings, having been voted the best live rock album of all time by readers of Classic Rock (magazine), as reported by the BBC.
One notable highlight for the band in their latter days was headlining the first ever Slane Castle concert in 1981 - and like all Irish dates, the final encore was a crowd pleasing "Whiskey In the Jar". The supporting lineup that day included Kirsty McColl, Hazel O'Connor and U2.
After a farewell tour in 1984, Lynott dissolved Thin Lizzy and focused on his solo career. Lynott continued his solo career, which he had begun while still with the group with the album Solo in Soho, yielding hits in "Dear Miss Lonely Hearts", "King's Call" (featuring Mark Knopfler on guitar), and "Yellow Pearl" (used in the early 80s as the theme tune for the BBC programme Top of the Pops). He also recorded a rock'n'roll medley single in 1983, "We Are The Boys (Who Make All The Noise)" with Roy Wood, Chas Hodges and John Coghlan.
Lynott died in January 1986, a victim of drug abuse. In the summer of the same year the band members reunited for the Self Aid concert in Dublin with Bob Geldof stepping in on lead vocals.
The remaining members of Thin Lizzy (John Sykes and Scott Gorham are the only 'classic' members left, after Brian Downey declined to join the band, describing it as "too disorganised") reunited in 1999 for a European tour and live album. Having toured with Deep Purple in the USA in 2004, Thin Lizzy are currently, as of 2006, touring the UK and Ireland. They will support Deep Purple again in April and May of 2007 for their UK tour. As of this moment there aren't any plans for an album release.
Origin of the band name
Phil Lynott told in the RTE documentary Me and my music that Eric Bell thought up the name. The band's first lead guitarist Eric Bell, who was a fan of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, bought a copy of Dandy comic  after seeing Eric Clapton depicted reading a copy of its sister publication The Beano on the cover of the 1966 album Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton. Bell suggested Tin Lizzie, the name of a robot character from the comic, which became Thin Lizzy (a sly nod to the Irish accent in which "Thin" is pronounced "Tin").
Thin Lizzy (1971)
Shades of a Blue Orphanage (1972)
Vagabonds of the Western World (1973)
Johnny the Fox (1976)
Bad Reputation (1977)
Black Rose: A Rock Legend (1979)
Thunder and Lightning (1983)
Live and Dangerous (1978)
BBC Radio One Live in Concert (1994)
The Peel Sessions (1994)
Boys Are Back in Town: Live in Australia (1999)
One Night Only [live] (2000)
The Beginning, Vol 12 (Decca, 1974 - Germany)
Remembering (Decca, 08/76)
Rocker (1971-1974) (London, 1977 - USA)
Continuing Saga of Ageing Orphans (Decca, 09/79)
Profile (Decca, 1979 - Germany)
The Japanese Compilation Album (Vertigo, 25/02/80 - Japan)
The Adventures of Thin Lizzy (Vertigo, 27/03/81)
Lizzy Killers (Vertigo, 1981)
Whiskey In The Jar (Decca, 1981 - Germany)
Rockers (Decca, 12/81)
Thin Lizzy - Der Weisse Serie (Decca, 1982 - Germany)
Whiskey In The Jar (Karussell, 1983 - Germany)
The Boys Are Back In Town (Pickwick, 11/83)
The Collection (Castle, 11/85)
Whiskey In The Jar (Pickwick, 04/86)
Soldier Of Fortune (Telstar, 11/87)
Lizzy Lives (Grand Slamm, 03/89 - USA)
Dedication: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy (Vertigo, 04/02/91)
Wild One: The Very Best Of Thin Lizzy (04/01/96)
Whiskey In The Jar (album) (Karussell, Spektrum, Universal, 1996, 1998, 2000)
Master Series (Deram, 1998 - Germany)
The Boys Are Back In Town (Vertigo, 06/12/00 - Sweden)
Vagabonds, Kings, Warriors, Angels (Mercury, 07/12/01 - 4CD Box Set)
Thin Lizzy Greatest Hits (Universal, 07/06/04)
The Definitive Collection (Thin Lizzy) (Island Mercury, 20/06/06)
The Roisín Dubh Trust
The Official Site For The Vibe For Philo
Thin Lizzy Guide
Thin Lizzy Fans
Enter the World Of Philip Lynott and Thin Lizzy
Official site (For The John Sykes Version Of Thin Lizzy)Thin Lizzy Discography & Catalog Number Info
2005 Rolling Stone.com article on Lizzy/Lynott