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Philip Parris Lynott (20 August 1949 – 4 January 1986) was an Irish singer, bassist, instrumentalist, and songwriter, who first came to prominence as the frontman of Thin Lizzy.

Early life

Lynott was born in Hallam Hospital (now Sandwell General Hospitalmarker) in West Bromwichmarker (then in Staffordshire), Englandmarker, and christened at St. Edwards Church in Selly Parkmarker, Birmingham. His mother, Philomena (aka Phyllis) Lynott, was Irish. His father, Cecil Parris, was supposedly an African-Brazilian who left his mother just three weeks after he was born and returned to his native Brazil. A news report in August 2009, however, said that Parris was from Georgetown, British Guianamarker, that he stayed with Phyllis Lynott for two years after Phil's birth and had a daughter with her, and that he subsequently moved to Londonmarker.

Lynott was initially brought up in Moss Sidemarker, Manchestermarker where he became a Manchester United fan. While still at school, he moved to Crumlin, Dublinmarker, to live with his grandmother, Sarah. His parents reportedly kept in touch for a number of years after his birth, but Lynott did not meet his real father until the late 1970s.

Music career

In the mid 1960s, Lynott began singing in his first band, the Black Eagles. Around this time, he befriended Brian Downey, who was later persuaded to join the band from the 'Liffey Beats'. Before long the Black Eagles broke up and Lynott joined 'Kama Sutra' before settling into a short stint singing in Skid Row (not to be confused with an American band of the same name), a band that featured guitarist Gary Moore, bassist Brendan 'Brush' Shiels and drummer Noel Bridgeman. Lynott was let go by Skid Row following a temporary absence to have his tonsils removed. Lynott had acquired a bass guitar and Shiels gave him some lessons to help him on his way. Lynott and Downey quickly put together a new band titled 'Orphanage' with guitarist John Stanton and bassist Pat Quigley. At the end of 2006 a number of Skid Row and Orphanage demo tapes featuring Phil Lynott were discovered. These were his earliest recordings and had been presumed lost for decades.

In 1969, Lynott and Downey quit Orphanage to form Thin Lizzy with guitarist Eric Bell and keyboard player Eric Wrixon (both ex-Them, but from different line-ups). Lynott was the main songwriter for Thin Lizzy, as well as the lead singer and bassist. Their first top ten hit was in 1973, with a rock version of the traditional Irish song "Whiskey in the Jar", featuring a cover by Irish artist and friend, Jim Fitzpatrick. Their biggest international hit, the 1976 song "The Boys are Back in Town", featured Lynott's lead vocals. The song reached the top 10 in the UK, Ireland and Canada, and peaked at #12 in the US.

In 1978, he was featured in Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, singing and speaking the role of The Parson. In 1979, under the name of "The Greedies" (originally "The Greedy Bastards", but shortened for obvious reasons), he recorded a Christmas single, "A Merry Jingle", featuring other members of Thin Lizzy as well as Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. He also performed alongside Jones and Cook on Johnny Thunders' solo album So Alone.

In 1980, though Thin Lizzy were still enjoying considerable success, Phil Lynott launched a solo career with the album, Solo in Soho: this was a Top 30 UK album and yielded two hit singles that year, "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts" and "King's Call". The latter was a tribute to Elvis Presley, and featured Mark Knopfler on guitar. His second solo venture, The Philip Lynott Album was a chart flop, despite the presence of the single "Old Town". The song "Yellow Pearl" (1982), was a #14 hit in the UK and became the theme tune to Top Of The Pops.

In 1980, he married Caroline Crowther, the daughter of British comedian Leslie Crowther. The couple had two children - Sarah, for whom the 1979 song of the same title was written, and Cathleen.

In 1984, Thin Lizzy disbanded. Later that year, Lynott recorded a rock'n'roll medley single, "We Are The Boys (Who Make All The Noise)" with Roy Wood, Chas Hodges, and John Coghlan. Phil regularly collaborated with former bandmate blues/rock guitarist Gary Moore on a number of tracks including the singles "Out in the Fields" (a No. 5 UK hit in 1985), his highest-charting single ever, "Parisienne Walkways" (a UK no. 8 hit in 1978), "Back On The Streets" and "Spanish Guitar" in 1979.

In 1984, he formed a new band, Grand Slam - with Doish Nagle, Laurence Archer, Robbie Brennan, and Mark Stanway.

It was rumoured that Lynott would team up with Northern Ireland hit maker Clodagh Rodgers to perform a duet in the 1986 A Song for Europe TV contest with the hope of representing the UK in the subsequent Eurovision Song Contest. His last single, "Nineteen", released a few weeks before his death, was produced by Paul Hardcastle. It bore no relation to the producer's chart-topping single of the same title some months earlier.


Lynott's last years were dogged by drug and alcohol dependency leading to his collapse on the night of 25 December 1985 at his mansion in Kewmarker. After his estranged wife drove him to a drug clinic, he was taken to Salisburymarker hospital where he was diagnosed as suffering from a kidney and liver infection. He died of heart failure and pneumonia in the hospital intensive care unit on 4 January 1986 aged 36.

In 2005, a life-size bronze statue of Phil Lynott was unveiled on Henry Street, off Grafton Street, Dublinmarker. The ceremony was attended by former band members Eric Bell, Gary Moore, Brian Robertson, Brian Downey, and Scott Gorham, and by Lynott's mother. The attending Thin Lizzy members paid tribute with a live performance. His grave in St. Fintan's cemetery in Suttonmarker is regularly visited by family, friends, and fans.

In April 2007, The Rocker: A Portrait of Phil Lynott was released on DVD in the UK.




  1. Thin Lizzy website
  2. "The siblings Phil never knew", The Irish Mail on Sunday, 16 August 2009, pp. 12-13
  3. Thin Lizzy star dies on BBC website. Retrieved 28 December 2007
  4. Fans' joy as Lynott demos unearthed
  5. * Philip Lynott remembered by his friend, artist Jim Fitzpatrick
  6. Thin Lizzy's Lynott back in town from BBC News, Northern Ireland, 20 August 2005. Retrieved 28 December 2007
  7. Lynnot's grave, St. Fintan's Cemetery

See also

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