Childhood & Early Life
Phil Lynott was born on 20 August 1949 in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, England to Philomena Lynott and Cecil Parris. His parents met in 1948 and had a relationship for a few months that resulted in his birth.
He moved with his mother into a home for unmarried mothers where he was baptised. Philomena eventually moved to Manchester but stayed in touch with Lynott’s father who often gave them money. She subsequently had two other kids who were given up for adoption.
Philip Lynott initially attended school in Manchester. In 1957, his mother sent him to his grandparents’ home in Dublin. His grandparents, Sarah and Frank Lynott, raised him well.
His mother remained in Manchester and stayed close to him. She later ran the Clifton Grange Hotel with her partner, Dennis Keeley.
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Phil Lynott was first introduced to music by his uncle Timothy. In 1965, he joined the Black Eagles, his first band as a lead singer. He later met Brian Downey while attending Christian Brothers School in Crumlin. Brian asked Lynott to join the Liffey Beats.
After playing with Liffey Beats for some time, Lynott joined the group Kama Sutra. During this time, he learnt frontman skills and also how to interact with an audience.
In early 1968, he collaborated with bassist Brendan Shiels and Noel Bridgeman to form a new band called Skid Row. The band released a variety of covers including "Hey Jude" and "Eight Miles High”.
Lynott subsequently took a leave from the band due to problems in his tonsils. By the time he had recovered, Skid Row didn’t require him anymore. Feeling guilty of having sacked one of his best friends, Shiels started teaching Lynott how to play the bass.
Lynott then teamed up with Downey and the duo formed the band 'Orphanage', along with bassist Pat Quigley and guitarist Joe Staunton, playing a mixture of original songs alongside covers of Free, Bob Dylan and Jeff Beck.
Towards the end of 1969, Lynott and Downey were introduced to keyboardist Eric Wrixon and guitarist Eric Bell. The squad formed the band Thin Lizzy and went on to perform heavily on stage.
During the recording of the band's second studio album, ‘Shades of a Blue Orphanage’, Lynott left the band to join a new band with Deep Purple's Ian Paice and Ritchie Blackmore called Baby Face. However, he returned to Thin Lizzy within a week.
Thin Lizzy got its first major break towards the end of 1972 when it supported the band Slade during their UK tour. A year later, the band released a rock version of the Irish song "Whiskey in the Jar" which became an instant hit.
Lynott’s band Thin Lizzy began to collapse in mid-1974 when some of the band mates left. However, it started to regain its popularity after the release of the album ‘Jailbreak’ in 1976 with new members, guitarists Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. Jailbreak’s single "The Boys Are Back in Town" became an international success and charted at No. 1 in Ireland.
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Having finally earned mainstream success, Thin Lizzy embarked on several world tours. It then went on to release a number of hit albums including ‘Johnny the Fox’, ‘Bad Reputation’, ‘Live and Dangerous’ and ‘Black Rose: A Rock Legend’.
By the early 1980s, Thin Lizzy had started to struggle commercially. During this time, Lynott got addicted to drugs that eventually led him to disband Thin Lizzy in 1983.
In the early 1980s, Lynott began to work on other projects as well. He performed sessions for numerous artistes, including Bob Geldof, for whom he sang the backing vocals on ‘Blast Furnace.’
Lynott formed an ad-hoc band named "The Greedies" (originally known as "The Greedy Bastards"). The band started performing in London, playing a mixture of popular Thin Lizzy songs and Sex Pistols tracks.
In 1979, they recorded a Christmas single titled "A Merry Jingle", featuring Thin Lizzy’s members as well as the Pistols' Paul Cook and Steve Jones.
In 1980, Lynott launched his solo career with the studio album ‘Solo in Soho’ which yielded two hit singles "King's Call" and "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts".
The Irish artiste then frequently collaborated with former band mate Moore on songs like "Parisienne Walkways" and "Out in the Fields" which charted at #8 and #5 in UK, respectively.
He then formed the band Grand Slam along with Laurence Archer, Doish Nagle, Mark Stanway and Robbie Brennan. However, the band soon split up.
From 1983 to 1985, Lynott co-wrote songs with English R&B artist Junior Giscombe. However, none of his works was released. His last single was "Nineteen". Co-written by Mark Stanway and Laurence Archer, it was officially released a few weeks before his death.
Family & Personal Life
On 14 February 1980, Phil Lynott got married to Caroline Crowther, the daughter of English comedy actor Leslie Crowther. They had two daughters: Sarah (born on 19 December 1978) and Cathleen (born on 29 July 1980). Years prior to his marriage, Lynott had a son who was put up for adoption.
Lynott and Crowther’s marriage started falling apart in 1984 when his drug usage escalated. His last years were dogged by alcohol abuse and drug dependency, leading to a rapid decline in his health.
The Irish musician was diagnosed with septicaemia in December 1985. His condition worsened with time and he was put on a ventilator. On 4 January 1986, Lynott died of pneumonia and heart failure in the hospital's intensive care unit, at the age of 36.
Each year since 1987, his friend Smiley Bolger has hosted a festival on his death anniversary. In this annual festival called ‘Vibe for Philo,’ various musicians, including former Thin Lizzy members, perform.
In the year 2005, a life-size bronze statue of Phil Lynott by sculptor Paul Daly was unveiled on Harry Street in Dublin.