Archives for category: Phil Lynott

Jim Fitzpatrick – Celtic Artist

Irish Artist, Jim Fitzpatrick, who designed the Thin Lizzy logo, was responsible for the album covers of most of the classic Thin Lizzy era.

Arturo Vega working on Ramones backdrop

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.

Tales From The Topographical Ocean/ Artwork – Roger Dean

 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.

Pink Floyd – Animals, Artwork – Hipgnosis

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.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jailbreak cover insert – Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

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.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatick

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.

Che Guevara , Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

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.

Celtic Art – Jim Fitzpatrick

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.

Phil Lynott Family Portrait – Jim Fitzpatrick

Jim Fitzpatrick remained friends with Phil Lynott his entire life, painting even personal portraits of Phil’s family and members of the band.

Black Rose rough sketch – Jim Fitzpatrick

I provided a link to his website which has a lot of his Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott work.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

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.

Artwork – Jim Fitzpatrick

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, Mercy Lounge, June 2012, Hottest month on record

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.

Paul Simmons with Reverend Horton Heat

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.

Jimmy The Weed, Philip Shouse, foreground.Mercy Lounge

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     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com

Thin Lizzy, 1978, Brian Robertson, Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, drums

Nashville talents takes on Thin Lizzy once again when Jimmy The Weed rocks tomorrow night, June 30th at Mercy Lounge down on Cannery Row.

Black Rose at The 5 Spot, Photo- Steve Cross

This will be the third incarnation of a Thin Lizzy tribute in Nashville over the last few years. The first was a group put together from some local talent called Black Rose, who did a great set at The 5 Spot in 2010, with bass player, Justin Taylor, a dead-on, unimaginable representation with the look, voice and style of Phil Lynott, in the same way as some of the best Jim Morrison acts like Wild Child that used to do his thing out in L.A.

The next Thin Lizzy throw down was at Mercy Lounge on Saint Patty’s Day in 2011. This turned into a little bit of a “well-intentioned” mess. It was suppose to be two bands and only one showed and they only knew a few Thin Lizzy songs, just enough to satisfy a real Irish night of rock. The best song they did was “Johnny” off of Johnny The Fox, which I had never actually seen Thin Lizzy perform.

Jimmy The Weed, was an actual British Gangster, who has written an autobiography that was the inspiration behind the Thin Lizzy song, “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed.” The album was somewhat of a rock opera with some songs about “Johnny” weaved throughout the record.

I saw Thin Lizzy, or rather met Thin Lizzy, on the Johnny The Fox Tour. They were out on the road opening for Queen, who had a big radio hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” from their current album, A Night At The Opera.

I was really looking forward to the show as Thin Lizzy and Queen were two of my favorite bands at the time. The day before the show, it was announced that Queen would not be at the Selland Arena show in Fresno, California in 1977. Freddie Mercury had some health problems.

I was afraid Thin Lizzy was going to cancel, but, the promoter made a radio announcement that Thin Lizzy would go on with Sammy Hagar (a perennial Fresno favorite) opening. One could either go to the show or get their money back. The arena was about 85% full instead of a sell-out with then openers, Thin Lizzy headlining.

My friend Bob Martin had managed to get a photo with Ritchie Blackmore when his new band, Rainbow had come to town, by going down to the Fresno Hilton after school to see if the band would check in and sure enough they did.

Brad talking with Scott Gorham, Thin Lizzy, 1976, Selland Arena, Fresno, CA

Bob was sure we could do the same thing and so there we were, High School Sophomores, hanging out at The Fresno Hilton when the members of Thin Lizzy checked in. We recognized Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham right away, but no sign of Brian “Robbo” Robertson. It turned out the other guitarist for that tour was Gary Moore, who we had never heard of. If only we had known. I have a photo at the hotel where Gary Moore is standing behind Phil.

Well, Thin Lizzy invited us to show up for sound check in a half hour and we did. I got a few shots with my Kodak Instamatic Camera at sound check.

Backstage at Selland Arena, Fresno, CA, with Sammy Hagar

We also met Sammy Hagar and he invited us in for 15 minutes or so to hang with his band that at the time featured Denny Carmassi, drums, Bill “The Electric” Church, bass, who both played with Sammy Hagar in Montrose and a lead guitarist named Gary Pihl, who looked just like Tom Scholz in Boston and in fact ended up playing in Boston after Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen.

Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore years, Scott, Gary Moore, Not Brian Downey, probably in Australia, and Phil Lynott

What do I remember about talking to Thin Lizzy? Well, we went to talk to Phil who had camped out in one of the arena seats to get an idea of what the stage looked like from the audience. My friend, Bob, wasn’t sure how to be polite so he said, “Sir?” and Phil said, “Don’t call me fu**ing sir!” Then he grinned, we chuckled and just let him know how much we liked the song structures and the sound of the band.

I ended up hanging out with Scott Gorham for a short time and we talked about Ritchie Blackmore and how much Scott made playing in Thin Lizzy. I was expecting an accent, but, it turned out he was from L.A.

It was a great show, starting out with “Jailbreak” with police lights and police radio calls filling up the arena as the band walked on and started kicking out the jams. “The Boys Are Back In Town” actually became a radio hit when the Johnny The Fox album was out. It was from the previous album “Jailbreak” but for whatever reason it became a big radio hit during that tour.

It is interesting how some bands as they become ancient history age like a vintage Harley Davidson. Thin Lizzy just seems to get more respect as time rolls on.  They really were the root band of the twin metal guitar attack with twin leads whether you think of Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Megadeath, Metallica (who did “Whiskey In The Jar” on their Garage Days Revisited album), Def Leppard, Judas Priest all the way through what is now high bred twin lead death metal.

Thin Lizzy is like the Hank Williams of all that. Phil was a great storyteller (“Johnny The Fox”), hopeless romantic ( “Sweet Marie”), weaving Irish folklore (“Black Rose”) with ruthless tales of the rougher side of town (“Chinatown”) and at the same time remained true to his feelings (“Dedication”) and even personal prayers of faith (“Dear Lord”)became a part of his song cycle.

He wanted to imagine Thin Lizzy as a band remembered for their guitar players like The Yardbirds, which it did accomplish, but the songwriting depth and honest gut feel that Phil put into his music and lyrics gained even the respect of punk rock England who sided with the band and Phil when they threw their wrath at Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. They considered Thin Lizzy to be one of them also.

The Greedy Bastards: Thin Lizzy Meets The Sex Pistols, Paul Cook and Steve Jones down front and become a band

Phil became fast friends with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of The Sex Pistols and even played on Johnny Thunders (New York Dolls) solo album, So Alone on “Daddy Rollin’ Stone “ which also featured Steve Marriott (Small Faces, Humble Pie).

Featuring: Phil Lynott

You can find almost every Thin Lizzy album at Grimeys, just like a classic indie Red Hot Chili Peppers or Janes Addiction record. There is nothing like hearing twin lead guitar harmonies being played by two guitar players and not a harmonization digital stompbox.  Thin Lizzy is meant to be heard Live and so it is.

Opening for Jimmy The Weed will be Blockhead and The East Side Gamblers.

– Brad Hardisty, Nashville, TN     thenashvillebridge@hotmail.com