THIN LIZZY (1969–84, 1996–2001, 2004–PRESENT). Phil Lynott (vocals/ bass, now John Sykes on vocals), Eric Bell (guitar, replaced by Gary Moore, Brian Robertson, then Moore again, Snowy White, John Sykes), Scott Gorham (guitar), Brian Downey (drums).
Thin Lizzy were an earth-shaking legendary band led by bassist and vocalist Phil Lynott and one of the few Irish heavy metal bands to chart and make it big. The band started in 1969 with Lynott, guitarist Eric Bell and drummer Brian Downey. Although only the rhythm section was a constant, Lynott’s distinctive blues-based voice made Thin Lizzy extremely popular, with hit singles still played on radio today, such as “Jailbreak” and of course “The Boys Are Back in Town.”
However, earlier singles such as the powerful metal cover of the traditional Irish song “Whiskey in the Jar” proved that Lynott and Lizzy were no one-trick pony. Lynott sang of working-class frustration as only a true outsider could; being not only Irish, but black as well, Lynott was in a unique cultural place, and his songs reflected his ambivalence about mainstream society.
After the loss of several guitarists (the best being Gary Moore) Thin Lizzy were ready to call it quits with the Thunder and Lightning record, but Lynott didn’t live long enough to enjoy the fruits of his new career, dying as a result of years of alcohol and heroin abuse in 1986 at the age of 36. Lynott, who had worked with various punk musicians and began to record new solo material, left at the prime of his career.
Sadly, and almost inevitably, the band is touring once again today, featuring Sykes and Gorham with a new bassist, drummer, and keyboard player, but without the spirit of Phil Lynott, who now has a statue of his likeness on Grafton Street in the heart of Dublin, the band lacks that spirit that motivated them for their alltoo- brief career.
Discography: Thin Lizzy (Dream, 1971); Shades of a Blue Orphanage (Dream, 1972); Vagabonds of the Western World (Dream, 1973); Night Life (Mercury, 1974); Fighting (Mercury, 1975); Jailbreak (Mercury, 1976); Johnny the Fox (Mercury, 1976); Bad Reputation (Mercury, 1977); Live and Dangerous (Warner Brothers, 1978); Black Rose: A Rock Legend (Warner Brothers, 1979); Chinatown (Warner Brothers, 1980); Renegade (Warner Brothers, 1981); Thunder and Lightning (Warner Brothers, 1983); Boys Are Back in Town Live in Australia (Nippon Crown, 1999); One Night Only (CMC International, 2000); Transmissions (Storming Music Company, 2008).