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Confessions Of A Rock'n'Roll Manager
Former Thin Lizzy manager Chris O’Donnell talks about the band’s early struggles, their major successes – and Philip Lynott’s tragic decline.
Colm O Hare, 08 Mar 2011
Towards the end of their business relationship O’Donnell says he became disenchanted.
“Suddenly Phil had a coterie of people around him and they would call me up and say, ‘I’m Phil’s new friend and he wants to do this or do that’. I wanted everyone to stop and take stock and lose these new found ‘friends’. The truth was he was heavily into smack. I’d be going out one door of the studio and the drug dealers would be coming in the other.
“It came to a head in New York. I wanted Phil to do some artwork for the Thunder And Lighting album. He was in a room with Willy Deville and they were injecting. I just freaked out, got on a plane and flew home. Then the band closed ranks. Phil was angry, realising that I knew what was going on. Much later Scott said to me that the problem was I was too good. ‘Every time we had a problem it was ring Chris,’ he said. It was true. I remember Caroline ringing me one day after they bought the house in Kew telling me they were freezing. I said ‘why don’t you turn the heating on’. She said, ‘It’s not working. Phil told me to ring you’. That’s the way things were. Phil never went to a bank. He’d call the office and we’d send money over.”
Still, Chris O’Donnell says he’d rather remember the good times.
“I keep seeing these talking heads on TV documentaries going on about how fucked-up his life was. My memories of Phil and the band are that they were incredibly hard-working. It’s a cliché but when you’re struggling in the early days, that’s the fun part. People say ‘what a sad demise’. I spent over 10 years working with Phil and I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the three years where things went downhill. It wasn’t all about leather trousers and swagger. This guy wrote great songs with beautiful lyrics. The rest is what happens when you drink from the poisoned chalice.”