‘Dublin’s first rock star’ Phil Lynott died 30 years ago today

#PhilLynott trends on twitter as music fans pay tribute to Thin Lizzy frontman

Phil Lynott, singer and bassist of Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, died 30 years ago on Monday.

Lynott was born in England in 1949 and moved to Dublin to live with his grandmother at the age of four. He fronted a number of bands in Ireland throughout the 60s, eventually forming Thin Lizzy in 1969.

The band would undergo a number of personnel changes, but the initial three-piece also featured Belfast guitarist Eric Bell and Dubliner Brian Downey on drums. That line-up had success in the early 70s with the single Whiskey in the Jar.

After Bell left the band to be replaced by Gary Moore, who was then ultimately replaced by the dual guitar set-up of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson, the band had its real breakthrough with The Boys Are Back in Town and the 1976 album Jailbreak.


Complications as a result of substance abuse led Lynott to collapse on Christmas Day in 1986 - he died days later as a result of pneumonia and heart failure, aged 36.

Tributes have poured in on Twitter for the Irish “rock god” and #PhilLynott was trending in Ireland on Monday morning.

The band Black Star Riders, which formed from the most recent Thin Lizzy line-up and features long-time Lizzy guitarist Gorham, said Lynott was "Still in the hearts of all of us" in a post on Facebook.

“Thirty years ago today we lost the LEGEND that is Phil Lynott. Still in the hearts of all of us, let’s remember what Phil brought to the world through his music and lyrics and the many great memories of the man himself onstage,” the post said.

Lynott was widely considered to be Ireland's first real "rock star", and that is reflected in a piece by Joe Breen in The Irish Times on Monday, January 6th, 1986.

“And how will he be remembered? In many ways, Lizzy’s best music speaks for itself. When that band was good it was mighty,” wrote Breen.

"The same can be said for Lynott's contribution. However, apart from music, Lynott was an enormously influential figure. He was Dublin's first rock star and both Bob Geldof and U2 have stated how he helped clear the way for their success.

“He was proud of his Irishness , of his rugged Crumlin accent, proud of his colour and rightly proud of his own success.”

The annual Phil Lynott remembrance event, “Vibe for Philo”, takes place on Monday night at Vicar St in Dublin.

Dean Ruxton

Dean Ruxton

Dean Ruxton is an Audience Editor at The Irish Times. He also writes the Lost Leads archive series