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Thin Lizzy Biography

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Thin Lizzy are an Irish rock band who formed in Dublin in 1969. The band was originally led by bassist, songwriter and singer Phil Lynott. They are best known for their 1976 song "The Boys Are Back in Town" - a major international hit still played on hard rock and classic rock radio.

Critic John Dugan writes that "As the band's creative force, Lynott was a more insightful and intelligent writer than many of his ilk, preferring slice-of-life working-class dramas of love and hate influenced by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and virtually all of the Irish literary tradition."[1] Others have suggested that Van Morrison was a major influence instead of Springsteen. American groups Little Feat and Bob Seger also influenced Lizzy..

Their music covered much territory (including hints of country and traditional folk music), but is generally classified as proto-metal or hard rock.

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 the New Wave of British Heavy Metal; groups such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, the latter of which has often praised Thin Lizzy and have covered a popular song off 'Live and Dangerous' entitled 'Massacre'. 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 a disappointed Bell quit. 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 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. The remaining members of Thin Lizzy 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.

There are at least three versions of the origin of the name Thin Lizzy. Since there do not appear to be any recorded interviews with members of the band confirming any of them, they must remain as speculation.

The most popular version describes how the band's lead guitarist Eric Bell, who was a fan of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, bought a copy of Dandy comic [2] 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 Dublin accent in which "Thin" is pronounced "Tin").

A second version is that the band name was taken from the nickname for the Model T Ford.

A third version is suggested by Jim Fitzpatrick, who was a friend of Phil Lynott and who produced artwork for the band. On his web site, Fitzpatrick suggests that Phil Lynott was inspired to name the band after a girl he met, whose name was Liz Igoe, and that he added the Tin because it "scanned better". [3]



Over the years, the membership of the band went through many changes, but Lynott and Brian Downey were the sole constant members. Below is a comprehensive list of personnel:
Artist information courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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