Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy was an Irish rock band that released twelve studio albums between 1971 and 1983. They started as a power trio fronted by bassist–singer Phil Lynott with guitarist Eric Bell and drummer Brian Downey, the one other constant member. This lineup released the 1971–73 albums Thin Lizzy, Shades of a Blue Orphanage, and Vagabonds of the Western World, plus the EP New Day and the 1972 non-album single “Whiskey In the Jar,” their breakthrough hit.

For the 1974 release Nightlife, Lynott retooled Thin Lizzy with guitarists Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, both responsible for the twin-lead sound introduced on the 1975 album Fighting. In 1976, they scored an international hit with “The Boys Are Back In Town” and entered their most popular period with the albums Jailbreak and Johnny the Fox.

Their 1977 release Bad Reputation was mostly cut as a trio without Robertson, who was replaced by Gary Moore (a recurrent tour stand-in) for their 1979 album Black Rose: A Rock Legend. When Moore returned to his solo career, Thin Lizzy hired guitarist Snowy White and keyboardist Darren Wharton for the 1980/81 albums Chinatown and Renegade. White cleared out for heavy mental guitarist John Sykes on the 1983 release Thunder and Lightning, their final album.

Members: Brian Downey (drums, 1969-98, 2010-16), Phil Lynott (bass, lead vocals, guitar, 1969-83), Eric Bell (guitar, 1969-73), Eric Wrixon (keyboards, 1969-70), Gary Moore (guitar, 1974, 1977, 1978-79), Scott Gorham (guitar, 1974-present), Brian Robertson (guitar, 1974-78), Snowy White (guitar, 1980-82), Darren Wharton (keyboards, 1980-2001, 2010-present), John Sykes (guitar, lead vocals, 1982-2009)


The two constants of Thin Lizzy, bassist/singer Phil Lynott (1949–1986) and drummer Brian Downey (b. 1951), first met as Dublin students in the early 1960s. Their first band together was The Black Eagles, which Lynott joined in 1963 and Downey in 1965. In 1967, Lynott was recruited into blues-rockers Skid Row by bassist Brush Shiels, who also recruited teenage guitarist Gary Moore the following year. After an ill-fated June 1969 television appearance, Lynott was dismissed but he remained on good terms with Shiels, who taught him to play bass.

In late 1969, Lynott and Downey formed the rock combo Orphanage. That December, they were spotted by ex-Them guitarist Eric Bell, who suggested they team in a band. Bell invited organist Eric Wrixon, a colleague from Them, into the project. Amid some buzz generated by Bell and Wrixon’s name recognition, the new four-piece dubbed itself Thin Lizzy. The name was taken from the robot character “Tin Lizzy” in the British children’s comic magazine The Dandy. “Tin” was changed to “Thin” as a reversal of the silent-h enunciation of “thin” (“t’in”) among Dubliners.

In July 1970, Thin Lizzy released their debut single “The Farmer” (b/w “I Need You”) on EMI. Before its release, Wrixon left the band. Later that year, the remaining three-piece singed to Decca and flew to London to record their debut album.

1971: Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy released their self-titled debut album on April 30, 1971, on Decca. It features seven tracks written by Lynott, including “Honesty Is No Excuse,” “Look What the Wind Blew In,” and the epics “Diddy Levine” and “Remembering.” The opening track, “The Friendly Ranger at Clontarf Castle,” is a co-write with Bell, who submitted “Ray-Gun.” Downey co-wrote “Return of the Farmer’s Son.”

Thin Lizzy is one of the few rock albums produced by composer–arranger Scott English, whose few tech credits include the 1969 single “Amber Velvet” by American psych-rockers The Elves, the precursor to Elf, the first major band of singer Ronnie James Dio. English is more known as the writer behind hits for the American Breed (“Bend Me, Shape Me”), Jeff Beck (“Hi Ho Silver Lining”), and Barry Manilow (“Brandy,” which the singer retitled “Mandy”).

The engineer on Thin Lizzy, Peter Rynston, also worked on 1970/71 Decca/Deram titles by Aardvark, Black Cat Bones, Caravan (In The Land of Grey and Pink), East of Eden, Harvey Andrews, Henry Lowther Band, Jan Dukes De Grey, Kathe Green, and Room (Pre-Flight).

Thin Lizzy features Lynott on rhythm and acoustic guitar in addition to bass and vocals. Bell handles lead and electric 12-string. Musician Ivor Raymonde, a member of Dusty Springfield‘s backing band, plays Mellotron on “Honesty Is No Excuse.” Sessions took place January 4–9, 1971, at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London.

MacNeill Press is credited with the sleeve. The front cover shows a fish-eyed view of an off-camera automobile through the fish-eyed headlight reflection of a foreground automobile. The back cover has monochrome group and member pics, including a distorted bottom-heavy upshot of Lynott.

In North America, Thin Lizzy appeared on London Records with different cover art that shows a miniature Ford Model T. Thin Lizzy driving up the curvature of a nude-woman’s thigh. The back shows a fish-eyed group shot.

Live Dates, New Day EP

Thin Lizzy made their UK live debut on March 23, 1971, at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. Notable gigs leading up to the album’s release include dates with Patto (4/2/71: Nags Head, High Wycombe), Wild Turkey (4/3/71: Hermitage Ballroom, Hitchin), Status Quo (4/9/71: Marquee, London), Titus Groan (4/13/71: Fickle Pickle, Southend), Alan Bown (4/14/71: Oldfield Tavern, Greenford), and Wishbone Ash (4/25/71: Lyceum, London). On May 8, Lizzy played a second Hermitage show with Medicine Head.

On August 20, Thin Lizzy released New Day, an EP that includes three Lynott originals: “Dublin,” “Old Moon Madness,” and “Things Ain’t Workin’ Out Down at the Farm.” On the group-written “Remembering, Pt. 2 (New Day),” Downey is credited as “Powney.”

New Day was recorded in June 1971 at Decca Studios with producer Nick Tauber, who also worked on the two subsequent Lizzy albums. Keyboardist Rod Mayall (brother of John Mayall) plays celesta on “Dublin.” The EP sleeve shows a smiling sun (front) and character drawings of the group by artist Hair Rodney, aka Rodney Matthews, who did numerous visuals for 1971/72 titles on the folk label Village Thing (Dale Evans, Dave Carlsen, Hunt & Turner, Ian A. Anderson).

Meanwhile, Bell played on “See What the Future Brings,” the closing track on the 1971 Deram release HoHum by folksters Whistler.

Thin Lizzy spent the latter part of 1971 performing UK dates with Faces, Edgar Broughton Band, and Uriah Heep. Their October 4 show at Stafford Borough Hall marked the early appearances of Judas Priest and Strife, both three years away from their debut albums. In late 1971, Lizzy recorded their second album at De Lane Lea Studios in Wembley, London.

1972: Shades of a Blue Orphanage

Thin Lizzy released their second album, Shades of a Blue Orphanage, on March 10, 1972, on Decca/London. It opens with “The Rise and Dear Demise of the Funky Nomadic Tribes,” a group-composed epic. The remaining tracks are Lynott originals, including “Baby Face,” “Call the Police,” “Brought Down,” and the lengthy title track. The song “Sarah” is about Phil’s grandmother, who raised him from age eight. (He would later use the same title for a different song about his daughter, Sarah.)

Tauber produced Shades just prior to his work on Is a Friend?, the singular Deram release by Jersey Island popsters The Parlour Band. Fellow Irish musician Clodagh Simonds augments Lizzy on harpsichord, keyboards, and Mellotron. Her band, Mellow Candle, released their album Swaddling Songs the following month on Decca.

Shades was engineered by Louis Austin, a studio tech on 1971/72 albums by Catapilla, Deep Purple, Flash, Groundhogs, Mainhorse, Orang-Utan, and the Ian Gillan-produced Jerusalem. The assistant engineer, Dick Plant, worked on 1973 albums by Alquin (The Mountain Queen), Electric Light Orchestra (On the Third Day), Public Foot the Roman (self titled), and Renaissance (Ashes Are Burning).

The title Shades of a Blue Orphanage is a combination name of two Thin Lizzy predecessors: Shades of Blue — an unrecorded act that Bell played in between Them and Lizzy — and the prior Lynott–Downing outfit Orphanage.

The album is housed in a blue-framed gatefold with a cover photo culled from the Radio Times Hulton Picture Library. It shows three Depression-era children that resemble the band as youths. The inner-gates feature credits and lyrics to the title track over a b&w landscape image of the three members walking side-by-side in the snow.

Like its predecessor, Shades of a Blue Orphanage spawned no singles. “Baby Face” appears on Rock-News Vol. 3 April 72, a label-less German promo comp with cuts by The Guess Who, Gnidrolog, McKendree Spring, Savoy Brown, and Ten Years After.

“Whisky In the Jar”, “Randolph’s Tango”

Thin Lizzy toured the UK during February–March 1972 with harmony-popsters Arrival. A planned August US tour was nixed by the breakup of their slated tour-mates, Skid Row. Late summer shows included dates with Strawbs (8/20/72: Chelsea Village Concert Hall, Bournemouth) and David Bowie (8/27/72: Locarno Centre, Bristol). On October 15, they supported Fanny at the Hardrock in Manchester.

In November, Thin Lizzy did a UK tour with Slade and American rocker Suzi Quatro. That month, they released a non-album cover of the traditional “Whisky In the Jar,” backed with the Lynott original “Black Boys On the Corner.” This became their chart breakthrough when “Whiskey” reached No. 1 in Ireland (17 weeks), No 6. on the UK Singles Chart, and made the top 40 in multiple European territories.

During the first two months of 1973, Thin Lizzy played the UK college and ballroom circuit. Notable spring dates included shows with ELO (3/23/73: Rainbow, London) and a then-unrecorded Burlesque (3/24/73: The Rookery, Bromley), four years ahead of that band’s two albums. In May, they played Swindon College with townies Star Park, the precursor to XTC.

On May 4, Thin Lizzy dropped their third non-album 7″: “Randolph’s Tango,” a Lynott original backed with the group-number “Broken Dreams.”

1973: Vagabonds of the Western World

Thin Lizzy released their third album, Vagabonds of the Western World, on September 30, 1973, on Decca/London. Side one features two Lynott originals (“Mama Nature Said,” “The Hero and the Madman”), a Downey co-write (“Slow Blues”), and “The Rocker,” a group-written number. Side two features “Gonna Creep Up on You,” co-written by Bell and Lynott, who wrote the remaining three numbers: “Little Girl in Bloom,” “A Song for While I’m Away,” and the title track.

Sessions took place during July 1973 at AIR and Decca 4 Studios, London. Lynott is credited as an associate producer with Tauber. Organist Jan Schelhaas (ex-National Head Band) plays on “Mama Nature Said” and “The Hero and the Madman,” which features the voice of Radio Luxembourg DJ Kid Jensen. “A Song for While I’m Away” features a 10-piece string section conducted by Fiachra Trench, who also did arrangements on Double Diamond, the 1973 fifth studio album by brass-rockers If.

Vagabonds of the Western World was engineered by Kevin Fuller and AIR’s Alan Harris. Fuller worked on Is a Friend? and Swadding Songs and 1973 albums by Bloodstone and Caravan (For Girls Who Grow Plump In the Night). Harris worked on current albums by Silverhead and Shoot, as well as earlier titles by Parrish & Gurvitz and Van Der Graaf Generator (The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other).

Vagabonds is their first of six studio albums with cover artwork by Jim Fitzpatrick. It’s a cartoon illustration of Thin Lizzy observing a foreign planet with mountainous terrain, floating orbs, spaceships, and smoke billowing overhead against a purple sky. The back shows each member enclosed in a clover leaf. The inner-sleeve has a purple monochrome collage of member, group, and crew pics. Fitzpatrick also did the cover art for The Well Below the Valley, the 1973 debut album by Irish Celt-folksters Planxty.

Decca issued an edit of “The Rocker” as a single, backed with the non-album Lynott track “Here I Go Again.” Germany pressings feature another non-album b-side, “A Ride in the Lizzy Mobile.” It reached No. 11 on the Irish singles chart.

Lineup Change

Thin Lizzy’s late 1973 UK tour schedule included dates with Steamhammer (8/1/73: Torquay Town Hall) and Budgie (10/26/73: City Hall, St. Albans). In November, they did an eleven-date tour of Germany that included an 11/22 show at Frankfurt’s Zoom Club.

Bell felt constrained by the band’s newer, more structured material and quit after a December 31 show at Queens Hall in Belfast. He surfaced in the Noel Redding Band, formed by guitarist–bassist Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience, Fat Mattress, Road). They cut the 1975/76 RCA albums Clonakilty Cowboys  and Blowin’.

Thin Lizzy roped in Gary Moore, who recently debuted as a bandleader with the 1973 CBS release Grinding Stone. This, the first of Moore’s three stints with Lizzy, produced three songs, including the ballad “Still In Love With You.”

During the first quarter of 1974, Lizzy played numerous UK dates, including a Feb. 1 multi-bill with Pink Fairies and The Pretty Things at London’s Central Polytechnic. On April 13, they played the Sports Centre in Bracknell with Capability Brown, Keith Christmas, and Kilburn & The High Roads.

After Moore’s April exit, Lynott retooled Thin Lizzy as a quartet with two guitarists: John Du Cann (ex-Attack, Atomic Rooster, Hard Stuff) and Andy Gee, a one-time backing player of Peter Bardens (pre-Camel). After this lineup proved unsatisfactory, Lynott hired Glaswegian guitarist Brian Robertson (b. 1956) and Californian Scott Gorham (b. 1951). Gorham once played in garage-rockers The Ilford Subway with his brother-in-law, drummer Bob Siebenberg, who resurfaced around the same time in Supertramp.

The twin-lead lineup of Lynott, Downey, Gorham, Robertson made its live debut in July 1974 at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton. Thin Lizzy signed to Vertigo for their first album as a four piece.

1974: Nightlife

Thin Lizzy released their fourth album, Nightlife, on November 8, 1974, on the Vertigo “spaceship” label. It features eight Lynott originals, including “Frankie Carroll,” “Showdown,” and “Philomena,” a tribute to his mother. The opening track, “She Knows,” is a Gorham co-write. Downey co-wrote the penultimate “Sha La La.”

The longest track, “Still In Love With You” (5:40), is credited to Lynott but contains ideas from “I’ll Help You See It Through,” an unrecorded Moore piece. The ballad became a staple of Lizzy’s live set. Moore recycled its theme for subsequent solo numbers, including “Spanish Guitar” (1978) and “Still Got the Blues” (1990). (The last of those was the subject of a 2008 lawsuit by German krautrockers Jud’s Gallery, who claimed its solo was lifted from their 1974 instrumental “Nordrach”).

Nightlife was produced by American soundman Ron Nevison, whose prior credits included engineering work on albums by Bronco and The Who (Quadrophenia). Concurrently, he engineered the debut album by Bad Company and produced Bongos Over Balham, the second album by Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers. He co-engineered Nightlife with UK soundman Ted Sharp, who also worked on 1972–74 albums by Barclay James Harvest, Chi Coltrane, Home (The Alchemist), Jackson Heights, Mike D’Abo, Mott the Hoople, Nutz, and Queen.

Sessions took place between April and September 1974 at studios in Worthing (Saturn) and London (Trident, Olympic). Scottish soul-rock belter Frankie Miller co-sings on “Still In Love With You,” which features Moore and Robertson on guitar. Arranger Jimmy Horowitz (wife of Lesley Duncan) conducted strings on “She Knows,” “Frankie Carroll,” and “Dear Heart.” Musician Jean Roussel (Cat Stevens, Claire Hamill, Hanson, Magna Carta, Trapeze) plays keyboards on all three tracks.

Fitzpatrick’s cover illustration for Nightlife depicts a panther-like beast leering at grand heights over a dark urban cityscape. The name and title are presented Roger Dean-style before a giant lunar mandala. Rock photographer Alan Field (Heavy Metal Kids, Sensational Alex Harvey Band) took the back-cover group shot.

First US Tour; Reading ’75

Thin Lizzy promoted Nightlife with a fall UK tour that included dates with Blackfoot Sue (Westminster College), Quicksand (10/25/74: Sunderland Locarno), Seventh Wave (11/9/74: Liverpool Stadium), and an unsigned retro-beat quartet called The Jam (10/27/74: Greyhound, Croydon). On December 15, Lizzy played the Sporthalle in Boblingen, Germany, with Humble Pie and Focus.

Thin Lizzy made their US live debut on March 16, 1975, in Louisville, Kentucky, as the opening act for Canadian rockers Bachman Turner Overdrive. The tour spanned five weeks and 21 shows, including a March 17 stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin, with up-and-comers Kiss and Rush. In May, Lizzy played further dates with BTO across Germany and Benelux. That month, they recorded their fifth album at Olympic Studios.

Between the album’s completion and release, Thin Lizzy played the Fifteenth National Jazz, Blues and Rock Festival at the Thames-side Arena in Reading. The three-day event featured sets by Babe Ruth, Caravan, Dr. Feelgood, Hawkwind, Kokomo, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Robin Trower, Soft Machine, UFO, and Wally. Lizzy appeared on the second day (Saturday the 23rd) along with Kursaal Flyers, String Driven Thing, Zzebra, and headliners Yes.

1975: Fighting

The fifth Thin Lizzy studio album, Fighting, appeared on September 12, 1975, on Vertigo. It features four Lynott originals: “Suicide,” “Wild One,” “Fighting My Way Back,” and “Spirit Slips Away.” He co-wrote one song with Downey (“For Those Who Love to Live”) and two with Gorham (“King’s Vengeance,” “Freedom Song”), who contributed the closing track “Ballad of a Hard Man.” Robertson submitted “Silver Dollar.”

Fighting opens with “Rosalie,” a song by Bob Seger about Canadian radio personality Rosalie Trombley of CKLW AM Toronto. Roger Chapman (Family, Streetwalkers) sings backing vocals on the track, which Vertigo lifted as a single, backed with the non-album Lynott original “Half-Caste.”

Lynott produced Fighting with Olympic’s Keith Harwood, who also engineered 1975 albums by the Andy Fraser Band, Led Zeppelin (Physical Graffiti), Mike Heron’s Reputation, and The Winkies. Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan plays piano on “Rosalie” and “Silver Dollar.”

Fighting is the only Thin Lizzy studio album to sport the band’s Fitzpatrick-designed logo on the cover, despite its use on comps and other media. The group shot (back) was taken by famed rock photographer Mick Rock, who also captured images for 1974/75 albums by Arthur Brown, Be-Bop Deluxe (Axe Victim), Cockney Rebel (The Psychomodo), Camel (Mirage), Kiki Dee Band (I’ve Got the Music In Me), Mr. Big, Queen (Sheer Heart Attack), and Stomu Yamash’ta’s East Wind (One By One).

In North America, Fighting appeared on Mercury with a different cover pic that shows Lizzy posed beside a gutted building (jacket-less).

Thin Lizzy backed the album’s release on September German dates with Status Quo and Snafu, followed by two shows in the Netherlands with Colosseum II, Moore’s jazz-rock outfit with drummer Jon Hiseman. After a string of Oct.–Dec. UK dates, Lizzy wrapped 1975 at the Great British Music Festival, a three-day event at Olympia, London, with sets by Baker Gurvitz Army, Charlie, Climax Blues Band, Doctors of Madness, Jack the Lad, John Miles, Nazareth, and Procol Harum.

Meanwhile, sessions for Thin Lizzy’s next album commenced at London’s Ramport Studios.

1976: Jailbreak

Thin Lizzy dropped their sixth studio album, Jailbreak, on March 26, 1976, on Vertigo–Mercury.

Side one contains the popular title track and the Lynott originals “Running Back” and “Romeo and the Lonely Girl,” plus co-writes with Robertson (“Angel from the Coast”) and Gorham (“Warriors”).

Side two opens with “The Boys Are Back In Town,” their signature song and breakthrough international hit. The remainder consists of Lynott’s “Fight or Fall,” the Downey co-write “Cowboy Song,” and the group-written “Emerald.”

Jailbreak is the first of two consecutive Thin Lizzy albums produced by John Alcock, a soundman for John Entwistle who also produced 1975/76 albums by Bandit and Mandalaband (self titled). The engineer, William Reid-Dick, also worked on recent albums by Curved Air, Esperanto, Pavlov’s Dog, Roger Daltery, and Supertramp (Crisis? What Crisis?). Keyboardist Tim Hinkley (Al Stewart, Beckett, Jody Grind) plays uncredited fills on “Running Back.”

The back cover contains an explanation of The Jailbreak. It starts with The Warrior, whose video scanner lands on Dimension 5, a post-apocalyptic, totalitarian world controlled through a (proto-internet) Big Brother grid run by the Overlord, who’s imprisoned vast swaths of the population. A mass Jailbreak ensues, but the Overlord’s robot trackers crush the uprising. Four individuals (Thin Lizzy) evade the Overlord and make to the Rampic Buildings, where they record and broadcast the material that survives for this album. The songs — which “sailed out into the night then upward toward the skies, traveling on that thin boarder between reality and imagination” — become rallying cries for the Final War.

Jailbreak is housed in a die-cut gatefold cover that shows the Warrior screening Thin Lizzy as they make their getaway during the Jailbreak. The inner-gate shows the broader image of the Jailbreak, where Thin Lizzy dash forth, narrowly evading explosive ray beams from the Overlord’s alien tripods.

Jailbreak reached No. 10 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 18 on the US Billboard 200. “The Boys Are Back In Town” hit No. 8 in the UK and Canada and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In Ireland, it became Thin Lizzy’s second No. 1 single.

Thin Lizzy promoted Jailbreak with an April–June stateside tour that included a double-bill at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre with Be-Bop Deluxe (supporting Sunburst Finish) and a triple-bill at the Memorial Arena in Pekin, Illinois, with Starcastle and Rush (promoting 2112). After shows with Journey (6/2/76: Civic, Santa Monica) and Nazareth (6/10/76: Civic, Omaha), Thin Lizzy were forced to cancel a string of Midwest dates with Rainbow when Lynott contracted hepatitis. Once he recovered, they re-entered Ramport in August to cut another album.

Johnny the Fox

Thin Lizzy released their second album of 1976, Johnny the Fox, on October 16 on Vertigo–Mercury. This is their seventh studio album and the fourth by the classic quartet of Lynott, Downey, Robertson, and Gorham.

Each side begins with a song titled after a character named Johnny (also used in “The Boys Are Back In Town”). Lynott’s “Johnny” is a melodramatic rocker about a drug-addled armed robber who shoots a drugstore guard during a holdup. The Downey–Gorham–Lynott number “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed” is a funk-rocker inspired by The O’JaysFor the Love of Money,” one of Phil’s soundcheck favorites.

Lynott wrote several numbers during his hospital stay, including “Boogie Woogie Dance,” the ballad “Old Flame,” and the history-steeped “Fools Gold,” about the Great Famine of Ireland (1845–52). He conceived “Don’t Believe a Word” as a slow blues but Downey and Robertson reworked the piece as an aggressive shuffle.

Robertson co-wrote “Borderline” about a recent heartbreak. Gorham’s sentiments influenced “Sweet Marie,” a quiet storm love song. The martial-tinged Celt rocker “Massacre” was conceived in the studio by Lynott, Gorham, and Downey: the same three that wrote the off-cuff “Rocky” (about a rock guitar prodigy) with Robertson in mind.

Sessions took place at Ramport and Olympic, London, after a non-start at Musicland Studios in Munich Germany. Alcock and Reid Dick returned as soundmen. The assistant engineer, Neil Hornby, subsequently worked on albums by Judas Priest (Sin After Sin) and the Intergalactic Touring Band, an all-star project on Charisma Records that generated a namesake 1977 sci-fi concept album.

Lynott’s friend Phil Collins (then holding duo roles in Genesis and Brand X) plays percussion on select passages. Scottish singer Kim Beacon (String Driven Thing) sings “back vox” on parts unspecified, purportedly due to Frankie Miller’s unavailability. Strings and brass were arranged by Fiachra Trench, who did a similar service on “The Violin,” an epic ballad on Dinner At the Ritz, the second album by fellow Vertigo–Mercury rockers City Boy.

Fitzpatrick designed the cover to Johnny the Fox with a Celt theme at Lynott’s request. It show a predominantly gold, neo-Gothic border against a rusty gradient backdrop. The center disc shows the titular fox (foreground) facing a giant lunar (afar). The inner-sleeve contains “The Vulture,” an eight-line poem about a preying Cathartidae that mauls a circus tightrope ballerina.

Johnny the Fox reached No. 11 on the UK Albums Chart. “Don’t Believe a Word” hit No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 2 in Ireland. Thin Lizzy promoted the album on a string of autumn German dates with Robin Trower, followed by UK dates with expat West Coast rockers Clover. On November 14, 1976, Lizzy taped their first of three nights at London’s Hammersmith Odeon with the Maison Rouge Mobile.

Thin Lizzy was booked for a Nov.–Dec. US tour that would have included dates with Ambrosia, Montrose, Be-Bop Deluxe (supporting Modern Music), and Graham Parker & the Rumour. On the eve of their scheduled departure, Robertson incurred a debilitating hand injury at London’s Speakeasy Club while intervening in a bar fight between his friend Frankie Miller and Gonzalez guitarist Gordon Hunte.

Meanwhile, Lynott dropped into Advision Studios, Fitzrovia, to sing the part of Parson Nathaniel on “The Spirit of Man,” a duet with Rock Follies singer Julie Covington on Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, recorded between May 1976 and June 1977 and released in June 1978 on CBS.

1977: Bad Reputation

Thin Lizzy delayed their stateside rounds until January 18, 1977, when they embarked on two months of coast-to-coast shows as the opening act for Queen. Moore — then between the first two Colosseum II albums, Strange New Flesh and Electric Savage — deputized a recovering Robertson, whose status within the band was now in dispute. Immediately after the tour, Lynott, Downey, and Gorham entered Toronto Sound Studios and Sounds Interchange.

The resulting album, Bad Reputation, appeared on September 2, 1977, on Vertigo–Mercury. This, Thin Lizzy’s eighth studio album, was their first recorded outside the UK and their only post-Bell album as a trio (ostensibly).

Lynott lone-wrote five of the album’s nine songs, including “Southbound,” “Downtown Sundown,” “That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart,” and the opening epic “Soldier of Fortune.” Side one contains a pair of group-written numbers, “Opium Trail” and the title track. Gorham and Lynott co-wrote two numbers on the second side, “Killer Without a Cause” and “Dear Lord.”

Sessions took place during May–June 1977 with Tony Visconti, the longtime David Bowie soundman who also produced mid-’70s recordings by Sparks (Indiscreet), Surprise Sisters, Dirty Tricks, and Omaha Sheriff. His wife, Welsh folkster Mary Hopkin, sings backing vocals on “Dear Lord.” Ed Stone, one of the three assistant engineers, subsequently worked on albums by Canadian rockers FM (Black Noise) and Triumph.

Lynott, who sacked Robertson, insisted Thin Lizzy could proceed as a three-piece. Gorham countered this view and summoned Robertson late in the sessions to add guitar solos to “Opium Trail,” “Killer Without a Cause,” and “That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart.” He’s also credited with keyboards and talk box. Despite Robertson’s reticence in the studio, he ultimately rejoined Thin Lizzy for their subsequent tour.

The Bad Reputation sessions coincided with a Toronto appearance by Supertramp, then touring behind their 1977 A&M release Even In the Quietest Moments. Their reedist, John Helliwell, dropped into Sound Studios to play saxophone and clarinet on select passages.

Graphic designer Sutton Cooper is responsible for the visuals on Bad Reputation and the two subsequent Thin Lizzy albums. The back features a group shot (Robertson included) of Lizzy on the stairway entrance of a city apartment building. 

Bad Reputation reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 39 on the US Billboard 200. “Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)” hit No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 4 in Ireland.

Live Dates, Reading Rock ’77

On August 17, 1977, Thin Lizzy played Dublin’s first open-air rock festival at Dalymount Park with Graham Parker, Fairport Convention, and newcomers The Boomtown Rats, who thank “The Lizzies (long may you be thin)” on the insert of their debut album.

The following week, Thin Lizzy played Reading Rock ’77, a three-day event with sets by 5 Hand Reel, Doobie Brothers, Eddie & the Hot Rods, The Enid, Golden Earring, Hawkwind (plugging Quark Strangeness and Charm), Lone Star, The Motors, Racing Cars, and Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat. Lizzy played on the second day (Saturday the 27th) along with Gloria Mundi, John Miles (plugging Stranger In the City), Krazy Kat, Little River Band, No Dice, and Ultravox.

Thin Lizzy flew to Germany for the Karlsruhe Rock Festival ’77 at Wildparkstadion, which also featured sets by Chicago, Lake, Rory Gallagher, and Santana.

On September 21, Thin Lizzy kicked off a North American tour at San Diego’s Fox Theatre. The West Coast leg included stops in Portland (9/25/77: Paramount Theater) and San Francisco (10/1/77: Winterland Ballroom). They headed eastward for a slew of dates, including two shows in Philadelphia (10/21–22/77: Tower Theatre) and one in Toronto (10/28/77: Canada Seneca College Fieldhouse) that were taped with the Record Plant Mobile. The tour wrapped on November 5 at Chicago’s Uptown Theatre.

The next four weeks consisted of UK shows, including two-night stands at the Glasgow Apollo, Liverpool Empire, Bristol Colston Hall, Manchester Free Trade Hall, Birmingham Odeon, and Hammersmith Odeon.

1978: Live and Dangerous

Thin Lizzy culled the best-recorded numbers from the 11/14/76 Hammersmith Odeon show, plus further numbers from the Oct. ’77 Philly and Toronto gigs, for their first live album: Live and Dangerous, a two-record set released in June 1978 on Vertigo, Mercury (Canada), and Warner Bros. (US).

It includes performances of five songs from Jailbreak (“Jailbreak,” “Emerald,” “Cowboy Song,” “Warriors,” “The Boys Are Back in Town”), three from Johnny the Fox (“Massacre,” “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed,” “Don’t Believe a Word”), and two apiece from Bad Reputation (“Southbound,” “Dancing In the Moonlight”), Fighting (“Rosalie,” “Suicide”), and Nightlife (“Sha La La,” “Still in Love with You”), plus the Bell-era chestnut “The Rocker.”

Live and Dangerous also features two unreleased group compositions: “Are You Ready” and “Baby Drives Me Crazy.” The latter features Huey Lewis (from Hammersmith show openers Clover) on harmonica.

This version of “Rosalie” segues into “Cowgirl’s Song,” a variation of “Cowboy Song.” Lizzy’s concert centerpiece “Still in Love with You” is presented in extended form (7:40).

“Dancing In the Moonlight” features a saxophone break by Irish reedist John Earle, a one-time member of krautrockers Nine Days Wonder who also played on recordings by Parker, Gnidrolog (Lady Lake), Supercharge, Live Wire, Fingerprintz, and Stonebridge McGuinness.

Lynott cut overdubs for the album with Visconti during January 1978 at Des Dames Studio in Paris. Accounts vary regarding the live-to-overdub ratio of the contents.

Afterward, Lynott and Downey joined Moore at Morgan Studios, London, to play on the guitarist’s second solo album, Back on the Streets, released in September 1978 on MCA. Lynott and Downey play on three tracks: the Lynott-penned “Fanatical Fascists,” the Lynott-Moore “Parisienne Walkways,” and a cover of “Don’t Believe a Word.”

Live and Dangerous reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart. “Rosalie–Cowgirl’s Song” was lifted as a single, backed with the non-album encore number “Me and the Boys.”

Thin Lizzy launched a tour in support of Live and Dangerous on July 6 with a set at the Bull Ring Festival in Ibiza, Spain. Robertson quit for the final time due to mounting tension with Lynott, who called in Moore for the remaining dates. On August 8, Thin Lizzy launched a two-month US tour at the Memorial Coliseum in Jackson, Mississippi, with Kansas. Multiple dates followed with The Cars, Styx, and Blue Oyster Cult.

In October, Lizzy did their first Australian tour with drummer Mark Nauseef (Ian Gillan Band) deputizing Downey. Lynott rounded out 1978 by making several appearances with the Greedy Bastards, his impromptu group with members of Lizzy (Gorham, Downey), the Boomtown Rats (Bob Geldof, Johnny Fingers), and ex-Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones.

In December, Thin Lizzy (with Moore) entered Pathé Marconi EMI Studios, Paris, France, to record a new album.

1979: Black Rose: A Rock Legend

Thin Lizzy released their ninth studio album, Black Rose: A Rock Legend, on April 13, 1979, on Vertigo–Mercury–Warner. This marks Gary Moore’s third stint with the band and the first (and only) to last for an actual album.

Black Rose features three Lynott sole-writes — “Do Anything You Want To,” “Waiting for an Alibi,” “With Love” — and the Moore co-write “Sarah,” about Lynott’s newborn daughter (not to be confused with the titlesake 1972 song about Lynott’s maternal grandmother.) They also co-arranged the closing suite “Róisín Dubh (Black Rose): A Rock Legend,” comprised of three traditionals and one number (“Will You Go Lassie Go”) by Irish folk legend Francis McPeake.

Gorham and Lynott co-wrote “Got to Give It Up” and “Toughest Street in Town,” the latter with additional input from Moore, who shares lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and backing vocal duties with Gorham. Lynott and Downey co-wrote “S & M,” the centerpiece of side one. One track, “Get Out of Here,” features writing input by Rich Kids guitarist Midge Ure, a friend of Lynott’s.

Sessions took place between December and February at Pathé, Morgan, and Visconti’s Good Earth Studios. The engineer, Kit Woolven, also worked on Goon Hilly Down, the 1979 Rialto release by Deaf School-spinoff The Planets.

“Sarah” features three musical guests: Nauseef (uncredited), harpist Huey Lewis (then between Clover and The News), and singer Judie Tzuke, another Visconti client. Lewis also plays harmonica on “With Love,” which features ex-Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain, who subsequently teamed with Robertson in Wild Horses.

The Fitzpatrick cover features a bleeding black rose (front) and a rose silhouette (back) that contains the four band members. The back covers implies that Róisín Dubh (Gaelic for black rose) is the album’s co-title. The term “The Black Rose” is a nickname for Ireland that dates to the late 16th century.

Black Rose reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart. Of the album’s three singles, “Waiting for an Alibi” reached No. 9 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 6 in Ireland. The Vertigo 7″ of “Do Anything You Want To” is backed with the non-album “Just the Two of Us.” That and “Sarah” reached the UK and Irish Top 30.

Gary Moore Quits; Snowy White Joins

Thin Lizzy preceded Black Rose with a March US tour with Nazareth. They backed the album with April UK dates and May Continental shows. In June, they headed stateside for multiple dates with Journey. After their July 4 set at the Day on the Green in Oakland, Moore quit Lizzy for the final time. His 1979 non-album single “Spanish Guitar” (a “Still In Love With You”-inspired ballad) features vocals by Lynott, who co-wrote the song.

For the remaining tour dates, Lynott enlisted Ure, who was invited to join Thin Lizzy but declined because of his commitment to Ultravox, where he replaced frontman John Foxx. Lizzy did further US dates with Journey during July and August, including an 8/5/79 show at Chicago’s Comiskey Park with a third act, Santana. For their September tour of Japan, Lizzy employed a fifth wheel, guitarist Dave Flett, whose presence allowed Ure to switch to keyboards on select numbers.

Flett — who played on the 1976–78 Manfred Mann’s Earth Band albums The Roaring Silence and Watch — vied for the permanent slot in Lizzy, but it ultimately went to guitarist Snowy White, a Peter Green protege who augmented Pink Floyd on their 1977 Animals tour.

Meanwhile, Lynott resurrected The Greedies (with Downey, Gorham, Cook, and Jones) for the Christmas ’79 single “A Merry Jingle,” which they plugged on Top of the Pops and The Kenny Everett Video Show.

1980: Phil Lynott – Solo in Soho

Lynott spent winter 1979–80 cutting his first solo album, backed by current and former Lizzy personnel and members of the band’s entourage. Solo in Soho — a reference to the Good Earth recording site in Soho, London — appeared on April 18, 1980, on Vertigo–Mercury–Warner.

The album features seven sole-writes and three co-writes, including the Lynott–Ure composition “Yellow Pearl,” based on a keyboard riff that Midge conceived during Lizzy’s Japanese tour. Yellow, the color of courage in Japanese culture, is used as a two-fold reference: the concept of Japanese technological overreach (the Yellow Peril) and the duo’s impressions of Yellow Magic Orchestra, which influenced the song and Ure’s subsequent work on the 1980–81 Ultravox albums Vienna and Rage In Eden. His bandmate, keyboardist Billy Currie, plays ARP synthesizer on the track.

Solo in Soho also includes two Bain co-writes, “Dear Miss Lonely Hearts” and “Girls.” The latter features input from Bain’s Wild Horses cohort, ex-Lizzy Brian Robertson. Dire Straits guitarist–frontman Mark Knopfler plays on “King’s Call,” a tribute to Elvis Presley. Lewis plays harmonica on “Ode to a Black Man” and “Tattoo (Giving It All Up for Love),” which he covered with The News on their 1982 second album Picture This.

The closing track, “Talk in 79,” is a litany of puns and name-rhymes about the major new wave acts, including:

Devo didn’t know if they were men
Because they could not get no satisfaction
The Rats were caught in their own trap
Steve Strange began to change
Ultravox had a system
Kraftwerk nearly beat them
And the Yellow Magic Orchestra missed them
Eno rose for Lowe
The Slits became rasta
And the Buzzcocks played faster and faster with adrenalin
John Cooper Clarke he was smart
The Public Image became Limited
The Police were re-released
And came out as a three-piece
The Rocky Horror Show became the history of tomorrow
Nina Hagen, she was a German maiden
And the music press revealed their anger
When threatened by The Stranglers

Additional guests on Solo in Soho include Moore (“Jamaican Rum”) and Supertramp drummer Bob Benberg (“Girls”). Downey and Gorham appear on six and three numbers, respectively. Trench adds strings and brass to “A Child’s Lullaby” and the title track, which features Snowy White. Lynott co-produced the album with Woolven. Some sessions took place at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, the site of recent recordings by the Average White Band, The B-52’s, City Boy (The Day the Earth Caught Fire), Emerson Lake & Palmer, Robert Palmer (Secrets), Talking Heads (More Songs About Buildings and Food), and Third World.

Just after sessions wrapped, Thin Lizzy (Lynott, Downey, Gorham, White) reconvened at Good Earth for their next album. A taster from the work in progress, “Chinatown,” appeared in May 1980, backed with a live version of another new track, “Sugar Blues,” taken from an April show at Cork Hall.


Thin Lizzy released their tenth studio album, Chinatown, in October 1980 on Vertigo–Mercury–Warner. It includes the pre-released title song and the studio version of “Sugar Blues,” both group-written numbers. This is their first of two albums with White, who co-wrote “Having a Good Time” with Lynott.

Chinatown contains six Lynott sole-writes, including “Sweetheart,” “Genocide (The Killing of the Buffalo),” “We Will Be Strong,” and “Killer on the Loose,” based on the legend of Jack the Ripper. Downey co-wrote the closing track “Hey You.” Hinkley and Trench return to add keyboards and strings, respectively, on Lynott’s “Didn’t I.”

Thin Lizzy recorded Chinatown between April and August 1980 at Good Earth. Sessions took place amid ongoing spring–summer tour commitments in Ireland, Scandinavia, and the UK. Ure, who sings backing vocals on “Chinatown,” continued acting as their live keyboardist through April, when he finally stepped down due to focus on Visage and Ultravox. Lynott hired budding keyboardist Darren Wharton (b. 1961), who played on Chinatown and joined as a proper member after the album’s release.

Woolven co-produced and engineered Chinatown with assistant Gordon Fordyce, who also worked on Solo in Soho, plus 1980/81 albums by Hazel O’Connor (Sons and Lovers), Afraid of Mice, Linx, and ex-Cowboys International frontman Ken Lockie.

Chinatown sports Fitzpatrick’s final album cover for Thin Lizzy. It shows the traditional Chinese dragon (the loong) beaming rays from its eyes against a black mandala over a red–orange gradient background with yellow letters; the title in Wonton font. On back, the green-horned dragon faces the viewer with gaping jaws. Photographer John Paul (David Essex, a-ha) took the group pic on the inner-sleeve.

Chinatown reached No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart while the title track hit No. 12 on the Irish Singles Chart.

“Killer on the Loose” was issued just prior to the album as a second single. It reached No. 10 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 5 in Ireland despite controversy over its subject matter, which invoked the crimes of the Yorkshire Ripper, a then-at large serial killer. The video, which shows Lynott in his now-trademark trench coat surrounded by scantily clad women, aroused further controversy. (On January 2, 1981, two months after the song’s chart peak, Bingley gravedigger Peter Sutcliffe was apprehended for the Yorkshire Ripper crimes.) Vertigo copies of the “Killer” 7″ feature the non-album b-side “Don’t Play Around,” a Gorham–Lynott number.

Thin Lizzy promoted Chinatown with October tours of Japan and Australia, culminating with a 10/25/80 show at Logan Campbell Centre in Auckland, NZ. They headed stateside for five weeks of late autumn dates, starting in Columbus, Ohio (11/15/80: Agora) and wrapping in Los Angeles (12/20/80: Santa Monica Civic).

1981: Renegade

Thin Lizzy commenced sessions for their eleventh studio album in January 1981. Concurrently, Lynott worked on his second solo album with the same cast of players as the first, plus Wharton. Confusion arose among Gorham and Downey regarding which album they were recording on a given day.

The Lizzy sessions carried on through September. Meanwhile, Vertigo issued the compilation The Adventures of Thin Lizzy, which contains eleven songs from the band’s 1972–80 catalog and features cover art by comic illustrator Martin Asbury, best known for his work on the Daily Mirror comic strip Garth.

On July 31, 1981, Thin Lizzy released the non-album single “Trouble Boys,” written by Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremmer. The b-side, “Memory Pain,” is an R&B oldie originally by American soul singer Percy Mayfield. They supported the single with a string of August dates that included multi-bills at the Milton Keynes Bowl (8/8/81 with Ian Hunter Band, Judie Tzuke, the Paul Young vehicle Q-Tips, and the Burlesque spinoff Trimmer & Jenkins) and Slane Castle in Meath, Ireland (8/16/81 with Kirsty MacColl, Hazel O’Connor, and rising Irish stars U2). “Trouble Boys” was initially slated as the title track for their upcoming album but was ultimately dropped from the tracklist.

The album, Renegade, appeared on November 15, 1981, on Vertigo–Mercury–Warner. It features two songs by Lynott (“No One Told Him,” “Mexican Blood”), one co-write with Wharton (“Angel of Death”), two with White (“Renegade,” “Fats”), and four Gorhman–Lynott numbers: “The Pressure Will Blow,” “Leave This Town,” “Hollywood (Down on Your Luck),” and “It’s Getting Dangerous.”

Sessions took place in the Bahamas (Compass Point) and London (Morgan, Odyssey Studios) with producer Chris Tsangarides, a veteran soundman for Gary Moore and Colosseum II who recently produced sides by UK hard-rockers Girl, Magnum, and Tygers of Pan Tang. He co-produced Renegade with Woolven and Andrew Warwick, who worked with everyone from Strife (Back to Thunder) and Canadian hard-rockers Anvil, as well as The Cure (Seventeen Seconds) and Blancmange.

The Renegade cover shows the Vietnam flag flowing from a battle axe under torrential skies. It was photographed by Graham Hughes, who also did covers for Leo Sayer (Silverbird), Roxy Music (Siren), Russ Ballard (Winning), and numerous titles on The Who’s Track Record label, including albums by Thunderclap Newman and Pete Townshend. Renegade‘s back cover features red-framed photos of Lynott, Gorham, Downey, and White, each draped in the flag. Despite his full-fledged membership status, Wharton is missing from the photo grid.

1982: The Phil Lynott Album

Lynott’s second solo album, simply titled The Phil Lynott Album, appeared on Vertigo–Warner in September 1982, a year after its completion. Its release was withheld to avoid competition with Renegade. It features eight new Lynott originals, including “Fatalistic Attitude,” “The Man’s a Fool,” and “Gino.” Two tracks, “Old Town” and “Ode to Liberty (The Protest Song),” are collaborative co-writes with Bain. The album also features a synthpop remake of “Yellow Pearl,” which became the 1982–84 theme of TotP.

Sessions took place at Compass Point, Odysee, and Good Earth with additional recordings at Windmill Lane Studios, Dublin. Musical guests include saxophonist Mel Collins (“Growing Up”), Gong percussionist Pierre Moerlen (“Don’t Talk About Me Baby”), and the Solo in Soho players Lewis (“Cathleen”), Knopfler (“Ode to Liberty”), and Nauseef (“Gino”). Bassist Jerome Rimson (Headstone, Real Thing, Automatic Man, Roger Chapman) plays on “Together” and “Gino.”

The Phil Lynott Album also features one appearance apiece by Lizzy members Downey (“Ode to Liberty”) and Gorham (“Little Bit of Water,” with his brother-in-law C. Benberg). Wharton plays on everything apart from “Gino.” Ure plays guitar, keyboards, and Linn drum machine on the “Yellow Pearl” remake and “Together,” which he also produced. His Rich Kids/Visage bandmate, drummer Rusty Egan (briefly in Skids), drums on “The Man’s a Fool,” “Old Town,” and “Cathleen.”

The “Yellow Pearl” remake reached No. 14 on the UK Singles Chart. The album spawned two further singles: “Together” and “Old Town,” respectively backed with the non-album b-sides “Somebody Else’s Dream” and “Beat of the Drum.”

Photographer John Swannell took the Phil Lynott Album cover photos, which show the musician from a collared profile view (front) and leaning in a faux tux (back). The latter image also appears on sleeves to the accompanying singles. Swannell’s photography is also seen on albums by Stackridge (The Man In the Bowler Hat) and Bryan Ferry (The Bride Stripped Bare).

Also during 1982, Lynott produced two singles by Irish new wavers Auto Da Fé. He also co-wrote and played bass on “Please Don’t Leave Me,” a solo single by guitarist John Sykes, a member of Tygers of Pan Tang for their second and third albums Spellbound and Crazy Nights (both 1981). Sykes joined Thin Lizzy, where he replaced Snowy White, who went solo with the 1983 release White Flames and scored a UK No. 6 hit with “Bird of Paradise.”

1983: Thunder and Lightning

Thin Lizzy released their twelfth studio album, Thunder and Lightning, on March 4, 1983, on Vertigo–Mercury–Warner. It features the heavy presence of Sykes (who co-wrote “Cold Sweat”) and Wharton, who co-wrote four numbers: “The Sun Goes Down,” “This Is the One,” “Someday She Is Going to Hit Back,” and “Heart Attack,” the last two with respective writing contributions by Downey (who co-wrote the title track) and Gorham (who co-wrote “Bad Habits”). Lynott lone-wrote two songs, “The Holy War” and “Baby Please Don’t Go.”

Thunder and Lightning was produced in late 1982 by Tsangarides, who co-engineered the album with Warwick. Sessions took place at studios in London (Power Plant, Boathouse) and Dublin (Lombard Studios). Tsangarides also worked on 1983/84 albums by American hard-rockers Y & T and Irish metalheads Mama’s Boys.

Photographer Bob Elsdale took the album’s cover image, which shows a lightning-struck guitar in a rock quarry under a dark sky. The back shows a close-up of the guitar, overlaid with a live pic of Thin Lizzy, who appear side-by-side on the inner-gates. Elsdale’s photography also appears on albums by Judas Priest (British Steel), Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club (English Garden), and the Nick Straker Band.

Thunder and Lightning reached No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. Original UK and Irish copies include a bonus 12″ of four live numbers (“Emerald,” “The Boys Are Back In Town,” “Killer on the Loose,” “Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)”) from a show on their Renegade tour. The album spawned three singles, including two (“Cold Sweat,” “Thunder and Lightning”) that reached the Irish Top 30.

Breakup and Post-Lizzy Activity

Thin Lizzy promoted Thunder and Lightning with a Feb.–March tour of the UK, followed by an April tour of Europe and four May dates in Japan. On Sunday, August 28, they headlined day three of the 23rd Reading Rock Festival, which also featured sets by One the Juggler, Twelfth Night, Opposition, and Sad Cafe. This would be their last ever UK performance.

Thin Lizzy headed to Germany, where they played their final two shows on September 3–4 in Kaiserslautern and Nuremberg as part of the Monsters of Rock festival, which also featured sets by BOC, Meat Loaf, Motorhead, Saxon, and Whitesnake.

As a farewell momento, Thin Lizzy issued Live, a double album drawn from Hammersmith Odeon shows on their Renegade and Thunder and Lightning tours. The latter (recorded March 10–12, 1983) featured an “all-star” jam where Lizzy’s past guitarists (Bell, Moore, Robertson) were brought on stage to play on the songs that dated from their respective tenures. “The Rocker” features all three guitarists in addition to Sykes.

Lynott formed Grand Slam with guitarist Laurence Archer (Wild Horses), keyboardist Mark Stanway (Magnum), and drummer Robbie Brennan (Pumpkinhead, Midnight Well, Clannad, Auto Da Fé). They demoed an album’s worth of material, including “Dedication” (later included on a Thin Lizzy comp with overdubs by Downey and Gorham) and “Military Man,” which Moore recorded and included on his 1985 release Run for Cover. That album also includes the Moore–Lynott collaboration “Out in the Fields,” a poignant rocker (about the Troubles in Northern Island) that reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 3 in Ireland.

Despite an enthused live following, Grand Slam didn’t secure a record deal and disbanded after one year, due in part to Lynott’s escalating drug use. Sykes, who almost joined the band, was lured into Whitesnake for their 1984–87 albums Slide It In and Whitesnake. Elsewhere, Lynott played on Dangerous Music, the 1984 Bronze release by guitarist Robin George, formerly of Roy Wood‘s Helicopters.

In late 1985, Lynott contacted Downey about the possibility of resurrecting Thin Lizzy. They taped a session with George, but the project was cut short by Phil’s passing on January 4, 1986 from drug-induced organ failure. He was 36 years old.



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