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Written by Robert Byrne All Rights Reserved © VoidMagazines.

Thin Lizzy’s Heartbreaking 1976

When Thin Lizzy was on their day, no one was their match. One of the greatest rock n roll bands to walk the globe. Power, brilliance and genius emitted from the band’s illustrious towering amplifiers in front of their loyal fans. Thin Lizzy broke onto the scene in 1969 with an eruption using their first album “Thin Lizzy” to quickly become noticed and to be recognized as a band to not be messed with. Fast forward to 1972, the single that broke the band into the United Kingdom was “Whiskey in the Jar”. Believe it or not, this single was not going to be released and had no plans of being recorded. After the band had been rehearsing their own songs, Phil Lynott, the band’s frontman and bassist/vocalist put down his bass guitar and picked up a 6 string acoustic and jammed along to some “joke” songs. Soon enough he started singing “Whiskey in the Jar” an old Irish folk classic. Eric Bell (guitarist 1972) and Brian Downey (Drummer) played along out of boredom but as they were playing their manager Ted Carroll suggested the tune as their B side for “Black Boys in the Corner” which had plans to be the band’s first single with Decca records. After consideration and debate Whiskey in the Jar found itself on the A-side, and as a result, Lizzy broke the UK.

I look upon meself as… you take a band that’s made up of arms, legs, bodies… I happen to be the piece that talks. And does all that area of it, you know? I’m also very easy to recognize; the darkie in the middle jumping around with the guitar, you know. Dat boy’s got rhythm!

In 1975 Thin Lizzy toured the United States of America for the first time supporting Bob Seger and BTO. After the tour, the band then recorded the Fighting album. Fighting reached number 60 in the UK unveiling Thin Lizzy’s trademark duel lead guitar sound heard on “Wild One” and “Suicide”.

Thin Lizzy found their EUREKA moment in 1976. The Jailbreak album released on the 26th of March 1976 proved to be the global breakthrough they were hoping for. Jailbreak featured a worldwide hit with “The Boys are Back in Town” which reached a colossal number 8 in the UK charts and an astronomical number 12 in the US. Keep in mind, 1976 had the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Eagles, Queen, Kiss, AC/DC…need we go on? This was a huge leap for Lizzy! During Jailbreak the duelling guitar sound was further pushed and perfected featuring most dominantly in my personal favourite Lizzy tune from Jailbreak, “Emerald”. The album also exceeded expectations by reaching number 10 in the UK and an amazing number 18 in the US. Following the band’s success with Jailbreak, Lizzy toured America alongside Aerosmith, Rush and REO Speedwagon. There were plans to tour the US again in 76 but Phil Lynott was forced to halt the tour due to an illness.

During Lynott’s illness, he penned most of the Johnny the Fox album. The studio sessions around August/September 76 began to develop tensions between Lynott and guitarist Brian Robertson. Robertson had questions and disagreements about the credits of the hit single “Don’t Believe a Word”.

Another tour of America in 1976 had to be cancelled. The night before the band were to fly to America, guitarist Brain Robertson injured his hand due to a broken bottle in what we can only presume was “Robbo” sticking up for himself as tempers raised over a meal in the Speakeasy Club in London. Lynott replaced Robertson with Gary Moore, another legendary guitarist. How many legendary guitarists did Phil know?! The 1976 tour was postponed until January 1977 and went on until March that year.

Robertson was never “sacked” however he was no longer a definite member of the band in 77 this is evident by Robertson not featuring on the “Bad Reputation” album cover despite featuring on some tracks. As a result, Scott Gorham had to pick up where Thin Lizzy left off. Scott wrote the rhythm and also played the leads on most of the album including the fantastic hit single “Dancing in the Moonlight”.

Thin Lizzy shall go down in the history books as being the global gateway for Irish musicians. Despite never truly reaching the summit of renowned success and popularity they are without a doubt true legends of rock and roll. Thin Lizzy captivated auditoriums and electrified audiences. Their story will remain a mystery as to what Lizzy would entail had 1976 not been a nightmare of extreme highs and lows. Their ending isn’t rock n roll, no… It’s poetry.

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