It was on this day in 1986 that 36-year-old Phil Lynott passed away, following a long battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
Born in England but raised in Dublin, Ireland by his grandparents, Lynott would go on to become one of Ireland’s most influential musicians, making his name as the bass-playing frontman of Thin Lizzy.
On the anniversary of his death, we took a look at some of the best music the late, great Phil Lynott left behind.
5. ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ – Thin Lizzy
Surprisingly, Lynott didn’t think much of Thin Lizzy’s iconic rock rendition of the traditional Irish folk ballad as a single, citing that the track didn’t represent the band. In 1972, ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ became the group’s first massive hit, riding atop the charts for over three months in Ireland.
4. ‘Emerald’ – Thin Lizzy
Lynott’s fascination with the Emerald Isle’s history takes a front seat here, a track that describes warring clans and ancient battles both lyrically and instrumentally. It’s filled with flitting cymbals, sliding power chords and the harmony of guitarist’s Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson as they bounce off of each other to produce a stunningly symphonic riff. The track, released in 1976 while the troubles were still lingering heavy in Ireland, had a palpable resonance to it. Speaking about its modern relevance, Lynott said: “I was just thinking of a generalisation … It was just to show that violence has been going on for years. You could almost relate it to any period of time.”
Lynott co-wrote this synth-pop beauty in 1979 with Ultravox’s Midge Ure. The track went on to become the theme song the classic British music chart television programme, Top Of The Pops.
2. ‘Cowboy Song’ – Thin Lizzy
Half-biographical and half-vivid storytelling, Lynott puts a modern twist on the wild west in ‘Cowboy Song’. Twin guitars return, paired with an irresistible descending riff as Lynott compares the life of a touring musician to the uncaged existence of a cowboy: “I am just a cowboy, lonesome on the trail / Starry night, campfire light, and the coyote call where the howlin’ winds wail”.
1. ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ – Thin Lizzy