This week is the anniversary of the amazingly talented singer, songwriter and musician Phil Lynott who was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, on 20 August 1949. Another who was taken from us tragically far too young.
The co-founder, principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bass player for Thin Lizzy, Phil was known for his imaginative lyrics and enormous stage presence, including working class tales and numerous characters drawn from personal influences and his Celtic culture.
After initial success with "Whiskey in the Jar", Thin Lizzy had loads hits in the mid-1970s such as "The Boys Are Back in Town", "Jailbreak" and "Waiting for an Alibi" etc., and became a very popular live attraction combining vocal and song writing skills with dual lead guitars, one being the the legendary guitarist Gary Moore, who Lynott also played with in the band Skid Row.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Phil embarked upon a solo career, published two books of poetry, and after Thin Lizzy disbanded, he assembled and fronted the band Grand Slam.
I was lucky enough to be the DJ and see Phil and Grand Slam play live when they came to The Whitley Building at Stafford College (a North Staffs Polytechnic gig) on Friday November 30th 1984, on what was to prove one of his last tours.
In the 1980s he increasingly suffered with drug-related problems, particularly an addiction to heroin. In 1985, he had a final chart success with Gary Moore, "Out in the Fields" reaching No 5 in the UK singles chart, followed by the minor hit "Nineteen", before his death in 1986.
Lynott's last years were heavily affected by drug and alcohol dependency, leading to his collapse on 25 December 1985 at his home in Kew.
He was discovered by his mother, who was not aware of his dependence on heroin. She contacted his wife, Caroline (the daughter of the TV personality Leslie Crowther), who knew about it and immediately identified the problem as serious. After Caroline drove him to a drug clinic at Clouds House in East Knoyle, near Shaftesbury, he was taken to Salisbury Infirmary where he was diagnosed as suffering from a serious infection in his blood - septicaemia.
Although he regained consciousness enough to speak to his mother, his condition worsened by the start of the new year and he was put on a ventilator. He died of pneumonia and heart failure due to septicaemia on 4 January 1986, at the age of 36. In 2005 a statue was erected in his memory in Dublin.
Phil seemed to love playing here in Stafford and according to the archives played here 12 times, the first was with Thin Lizzy at (what was) The Borough Hall in 1971 and a year later returning to North Staffordshire Polytechnic at Beaconside. Over the years Thin Lizzy played at The Top of The World Nightclub on Newport Rd (4 times), Bingley Hall (4 times) the last being in 1980, The Borough Hall (twice), North Staffs Poly at Beaconside and finally with Grand Slam in 1984 at Stafford College.
(Credits: Guest Spectacular, Thin Lizzy Guide, Concert Archives)