Irish rock star, bassist, singer and founder of Thin Lizzy, Phil Lynott is born in England to single mom Philomena Lynott. At about age four, Lynott moved to Dublin to live with his maternal grandmother. At a time when Dublin was a very homogeneous white society, Lynott did suffer some racial prejudice. Still in his teens, he played with Skid Row, (the Irish band featuring Gary Moore, Brush Shiels, Noel Bridgeman). He went on to have worldwide success with Thin Lizzy.
The band’s first major hit was a rock version of the traditional Irish song Whiskey in the Jar, later covered by Metallica who credit Lynott and Lizzy for much of their early motivation. Thin Lizzy is probably best known for The Boys are Back in Town. U2 frontman Bono says of Lynott “If lyrical and musical ability has to be matched with showmanship, attitude, style, if that’s your version of rock ’n’ roll, there’s no way past Phil Lynott. He’s at the top of the tree.” Lynott and Lizzy were also a major influence on Metallica who often play a version of Whiskey in the Jar at concerts.
When Thin Lizzy split in 1984, Lynott had already released two light-selling solo efforts, 1980′s ‘Solo in Soho’ and 1982′s ‘The Philip Lynott Album.’ His solo composition ‘Yellow Pearl’ was used as the theme song for the weekly British television show ‘Top Of The Pops’ from 1981-86, and he also collaborated with Lizzy’s Gary Moore on 1979′s ‘Parisienne Walkways’ and 1985′s ‘Out In The Fields.’ But Lynott seemed to be slowly slipping into obscurity as that fateful Christmas Day approached in ’85.
Lynott’s two young daughters, Sara and Cathleen, were at his home when he collapsed. His estranged wife rushed over to help, and ultimately took Lynott to the hospital where he died. Some three hundred mourners attended a memorial service held on 9 Jan 1986. He was buried in Dublin, where he had been raised by his grandmother.
In 2005, a life-size bronze statue of Lynott was unveiled on Harry Street, off Grafton Street in Dublin. The ceremony was attended by Lynott’s mother, and former band members Gary Moore, Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, Brian Downey, Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton, who performed live. His grave in St Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton, northeast Dublin, is regularly visited by family, friends and fans.
As well as reissues of Thin Lizzy material, Lynott’s solo work has also seen retrospective releases. In April 2007, the 1996 film The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott, which consisted mainly of archive footage, was released on DVD. In August 2010, Yellow Pearl was released. This is a collection of songs from Lynott’s solo albums, B-sides and album tracks.
Photo: When asked by a journalist what it felt like to be black and Irish, Phil quipped, “Kinda like a pint of Guinness”.