Thin Lizzy to end the week. Of the crop of Hard Rock bands coming out of the UK during the late 60s’/early 70s, Thin Lizzy, an Irish band fronted by the first Black Irish musician, Phil Lynott, took the longest to breakthrough in the U.S., but were considered far and away one of the best of the 70s.
Begun in 1969, Thin Lizzy released their first album on Decca in 1971. Not in the U.S., but still creating a good word of mouth. Over the next few years, the lineups would change and so would labels. But like many bands of the time, the only way they could get their music across was to bring it live by way of almost constant touring.
This session comes later on in the band’s career. Having signed to Phonogram (Vertigo), they had just completed recording Jailbreak and were promoting it ahead of its release (the album came out on March 25, 1976 – this session was recorded on February 12 and broadcast on March 9, some 16 days ahead of its official release). This would prove to be the breakthrough album for the band, particularly in the U.S., where they were having a tough time cracking the market. But the two standout singles “The Boys Are Back In Town” and the follow-up, “Jailbreak” became 70s headbanger anthems and staples on FM all through the 70s and into the 80s.
Sometimes referred to as a Heavy Metal band, Thin Lizzy was really anything but. With Lynott’s writing, focusing on social issues an slice-of-life dramas, they were considered more intelligent and insightful than the majority of Heavy Metal bands at the time. Thin Lizzy did their last gig at the Reading Festival in 1983 before closing this first chapter.
Sadly, Phil Lynott died in 1986 at the age of 36, due largely to the ravages of drug addiction. In an all-too-familiar story, Heroin got in the way of the band and it did more than casual damage. Although the band reunited in May of 1986, things had changed considerably.
As a reminder of an extraordinary band, who stood on their own during a particularly pivotal time in Music, here is that session from March of 1976 for John Peel.