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The Life Of Brian
He manned the guitars during Thin Lizzy’s mid-seventies rush of hit albums. Brian Robertson looks back on the good and bad times with the band and movingly recounts his last meeting with Phil Lynott, just a few hours before his death.
Olaf Tyaransen, 03 Mar 2011
“I’d actually seen him the night before he got taken to the hospital,” he says. “I went down to give him his Christmas present. I went down to his house with Ronnie Wood’s son, actually. I was living with his ex-wife and his son at the time, just up the road. So I went down and Philomena opened the door of the house. She was a bit upset. So I went up to his bedroom to see him, and he was a mess. I told her, ‘You better get a doctor in quick, this is bad’.
“And I was in the house up the road when Big Charlie rang me and told me what had happened, just as it was coming up on the TV. It was a bit of a shock.”
Given his bacchanalian lifestyle, did he always feel that Phil was going to go young?
“You never do, really,” he says, shaking his head sorrowfully. “You never expect that sort of thing. I knew he was in pretty bad shape. Like I say, I didn’t live far away from him so we were always in contact and always seeing each other, so I kind of knew he was not in a great way. But I didn’t realise he was as bad as he was. I hadn’t been on the road with him or anything for quite some time, so I only really saw him at home.”
Since leaving Thin Lizzy, Robertson has gone on to have a fairly illustrious rock ‘n’ roll career as guitar gunslinger for hire, playing with everyone from Motörhead and David Bowie to Shane MacGowan and Wild Horses.
“I played on a lot of stuff – so much I can barely remember,” he laughs. “Years of rock ‘n’ roll sort of blend into each other, if you know what I mean.”
Robertson has reunited with his former Lizzy bandmates for a number of Lynott tribute shows over the years, and he’s played at several of the annual Vibes For Philo in Dublin.
“Over the years I’ve done a fair amount of them. I think he would’ve appreciated them. I know his mum does. So if she was happy then he would be. I think he would’ve been quite amazed it’s gone on so long, to be honest.”
Robertson’s recently released debut solo album, Diamonds And Dirt, features covers of three original Lynott compositions.