A Rock Icon’s Swan Song
Note: Header Image is copyright of Harry Potts and is used with full permission under the Creative Commons license.
‘Nineteen,’ was released at the tail end of 1985 shortly before Philip Lynott’s untimely death. The track was produced by Paul Hardcastle, who oddly enough, had a major hit with a completely different song with the same name only a few months before!
Thin Lizzy, as every music fan is aware, was one of the most influential heavy rock acts of the 1970s and one of Ireland’s most celebrated musical exports. What really set them apart from the crowd was charismatic front-man, Philip Lynott and his unique vocal style and magnetic stage presence. By the mid-nineteen eighties however, Thin Lizzy had broken up after a string of successful albums and tours and the band members had gone their separate ways.
Phil continued working however, performing as a solo artist, collaborating with Belfast native and former Thin Lizzy comrade, Gary Moore and even founded a new band called Grand Slam who sadly, never really got off the starting blocks. It’s fair to say though, that by this point in time his star had fallen and his long-term heroin addiction was beginning to take it’s toll on his physical well-being and his creativity.
By 1985, a lot of people had given up on Philip Lynott but just as the music world was about to consign him to the hall of memories, rumours surfaced that the former Thin Lizzy band leader was again creating new and exciting music and his fans eagerly awaited his next move. It came in the form of the single ‘Nineteen’.
Unfortunately, It didn’t chart as well as expected but it’s still a fantastic song with a cool video to boot. Philip’s natural charisma really comes to the fore and he looks as comfortable as ever before the cameras. There’s no visible hint at all to betray the fact that he wasn’t too well at the time, as his years of drug abuse had eventually caught up with him. Sadly, he died only a few short weeks later.
While promoting the track in late ’85, Philip talked excitedly about the future, about further collaborations with Gary Moore, and about a possible Thin Lizzy reunion. It’s a real shame that none of these things came to pass. This track, however, displays the kind of potential for further greatness that Philip Lynott still had within him, and had he survived, the nineteen eighties could’ve been a great decade for him.
Philip Lynott passed away in January 1986 and while Ireland lost one of her most famous sons, the music world lost a true rock and roll icon. Thin Lizzy seems to find a new crop of eager fans with every generation, helped in no small part by the amount of celebrated artists who have covered their music and cite them as a source of inspiration. Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Megadeth and Overkill have all covered Lizzy classics and who could forget the huge hit Metallica had with ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ in 1998, which still features in their live set today?
What’s your favourite Thin Lizzy track? Let me know in the comments below.