Irish Artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, who designed the Thin Lizzy logo, was responsible for the album covers of most of the classic Thin Lizzy era.
When I think of artists being a part of defining a bands look, there are only a few who come to mind, Arturo Vega, who took on The Ramones logo and artwork, developing almost a militaristic approach to the bands look, which in turn had an effect on the artwork of future punk bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols.
Roger Dean, who designed the classic Yes logo and many of the bands album covers such as Fragile and Tales From The Topographical Ocean, creating an almost Lord of The Rings landscape feel to the bands look.
While many bands turned to design houses like Hipgnosis in the 70’s, Thin Lizzy, had one of the greatest Celtic Artists of all time, Jim Fitzpatrick, painting album covers starting with Vagabonds of The Western World.
Jim’s artwork was eclectic with the band fitting whatever the title of the album was such as Nightlife, to the comic book looking bestseller, Jailbreak. The Jailbreak album cover has the American comic book style of Stan Lee or Jack Kirby of Marvel fame.
Yet, Jim did this work as well as the Celtic influenced intricate design of Johnny The Fox. Johnny The Fox may be the closest to his traditional Celtic Art, yet, he went onto design future totally different designs for Black Rose and Chinatown.
Jim had a break with Bad Reputation, which may have been a response to Phil’s punk rock friends, in some kind of solidarity, with nothing more than a simple gritty black and white, silkscreen style print photo of the band, with the same flavor of The Ramones, Rocket To Russia cover as well as the band shot of The Clash on the back of their first album.
It is interesting that Jim Fitzpatrick’s most famous work was his simple two tone portrait of Che Guevara. The famous photo taken by Alberto Korda on March 5th, 1960 in Havana, Cuba was known as “Guerrillero Heroico” or “Heroic Guerilla Fighter.” Jim turned this into a poster in 1968 and this probably became the most copied artwork in the world, with silkscreen street artist painting this all over South America and many parts of the free world on many walls long before Banksy.
Jim’s portrait of Che is now a part of the fashion industry much like Bob Marley or Jerry Garcia. I would like to know how many design houses pay Jim Fitzpatick a royalty.
Jim Fitzpatrick remained friends with Phil Lynott his entire life, painting even personal portraits of Phil’s family and members of the band.
I provided a link to his website which has a lot of his Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott work.
U2 may be the most famous Irish band, but, from my perspective, Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy always portrayed Irish life accurately both in art and music. Thin Lizzy was a link to Irish history and sonics in a modern context.
It would be great if bands went through the thought process of what image they wanted visually and worked with the right artist to help develop that context.
By the way, last night’s Thin Lizzy tribute was a winner! The opening act, an original Nashville hard rock, The Eastside Gamblers, played a solid set that featured a straight up rocking cover of “Living Loving Maid” as well as a new song that had some decent AC/DC style riffage.
The second band, Blockhead, seemed to be a quick throw together that featured a couple of the guys that would play in Jimmy The Weed. They started off with three Sweet numbers, “Action,” “Little Willy” and “Fox On The Run.” I was having a blast, I never heard somebody cover Sweet for at least two decades. If you hear Sweet live, you’ll see where Motley Crue came from, especially “Kickstart My Heart.”
Jimmy The Weed, was a group of Nashville musicians that play in different combinations in original bands as well as Metal tributes and full on Kiss makeup shows. There are a lot of great guitarists in Nashville and last night was no exception where they took on two of the Black Rose songs, “Waiting for An Alibi” and “Do Anything You Want To” which Gary Moore played on and were some of the most difficult twin lead passage recorded by the band as Gary Moore had a big influence on them with some of the twin note modals as well as the matching vibrato. Scott Gorham has written about how difficult that was, yet produced some of the most technically proficient patterns that Thin Lizzy ever did.
Drummer, Paul Simmons, who plays in the legendary Nashville hard rock band, Simmonz, as well as The Reverend Horton Heat, Petra and projects too numerous to mention anchored the Brian Downey chair and did justice on “Bad Reputation.”
Paul is arguably the best rock drummer in town. He always reminds me of Denny Carmassi. Denny hit hard and had impeccable tone when I saw him with Sammy Hagar and Heart. Paul is the same. His drums sound the same, quintessentially perfect whether he has one mic on the snare or a full consortium of microphones. This skill is lost on a lot of modern drummers, because they play to the microphones or to the compressors.
Old school drummers like Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, Mitch Mitchell, John Bonham and Bill Ward had to play their drums as if they had to be heard over stacks of amplifiers without the possibility of great microphones picking up every nuance.
Guitarist, Philip Shouse, truly had the Johnny The Fox, Brian “Robbo” Robertson tone down playing through a mid-70’s non-Master Volume Marshall MKII with the four input front like the old JTM 45’s. The tone was heavenly to these ears. There are certain Holy Grail Marshall Amps and this is one of them. I won’t get too technical, but, let’s just say they had transformers big enough to break your back! If you want a Marshall, you should go old school. Forget all the bells and whistles and scooped tones, even the JCM800 which tries to emulate Michael Schenker before putting any pedals on it.
Get an old school Marshall, open up the back and have the tech look and see if any of the parts have been messed with. If not, you are on the right path, Grasshopper!
Jimmy The Weed did play “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.” Not only that, they got into “Warrior,” “Emerald,” as well as crowd favorites, “The Cowboy Song” and the closer “The Boys Are Back In Town.”
I know my Thin Lizzy and satisfied my hungry soul as well as that of a hardcore Lizzy fan from Europe who was wearing his Brian Robertston T-shirt and bouncing up and down on the front row.
I wish that they would make this at least an annual event, let’s say, on St. Patrick’s Day? The only non-plus was the round robin singers. While they had a lot of fun and kept the rest of the band going, it would have been better if they found Justin Taylor, who not only played bass, but, did the best job at singing Thin Lizzy I have heard yet.
I don’t know if he is still in town and I realize that his friends had to talk him into doing the Black Rose show telling him how much he looked, acted and sounded like Phil Lynott. Justin plays in other projects and it was not his idea to pull together that show. When other people tell you that they remind you of Phil that is huge.
Get Justin next year, make it a four piece and make it a true pint of Guinness.
- Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN firstname.lastname@example.org