25 years ago this month, on the 4th to be exact, a shining light of the music industry was finally extinguished. Philip Parris Lynott died that day, although the legacy and music he left behind him will live on.
Phil Lynott was a true front man, not just a singer or a bass player. He commanded your attention as he headed up Thin Lizzy, pounding some of the greatest rock tunes in history out on the old faithful Fender bass with the mirrored scratch plate.
Anyone out there have a bit of Irish in them? (crowd screams) Anyone like a bit more Irish in them?
This famous exchange captured for posterity on the incredible Live and Dangerous record sums his character up; a little bit cheeky, always looking for a good time.
Sadly, it was that searching for “the good time” that hastened his departure from our lives – a drug dependency that started bad and got worse saw to that. He was only 36 when his body finally gave up and he succumbed to the complications that a heroin addiction will bring.
While he may be gone, he is not forgotten. Dublin’s Black Pearl is remembered by an annual Vibe for Philo gig in his honour; outside Bruxelles pub in the heart of his beloved Dublin is a bronze statue, standing tall and proud, resting on that famous bass. It’s surely not a coincidence that his statue is near a bar that Lynott and his Lizzy cohorts used to hold court in, downstairs in the Zodiac Lounge.
Thin Lizzy may have a reputation that a lot of people base solely on The Boys Are Back In Town, and Whiskey In The Jar (a song that Lynott himself reputedly couldn’t stand) they were so much more than that. Lynott’s lyrics effortlessly straddling the line between music and poetry, backed by a band that almost invented the double lead guitar sound on their own.
Phil Lynott may no longer be with us, but those songs are. I encourage you to search out some Lizzy music and sit back, listen and love it. I’m listening to their early records as I write this, and I can almost picture Lynott swinging the bass, leaning in to the mic and winking at all and sundry as that voice fills the room.
RIP, Philo. Never forgotten.