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The Lynott I Knew
Legendary Irish music figure Frank Murray reflects on his years working with Thin Lizzy and his relationship with their iconic frontman.
Peter Murphy, 09 Mar 2011
A veteran among Irish music business veterans, Frank Murray knew Phil Lynott from the Black Eagles and Skid Row days, and as a longtime friend was obvious choice for the post of Thin Lizzy tour manager. In his capacity as boot camp sergeant and nursemaid, Murray oversaw Lizzy’s rise from promising one-hit wonders to one of the premier touring bands of the day. He was also the man charged with the sad task of stewarding Phil Lynott’s casket home in January 1986.
Following Thin Lizzy’s demise, Murray went on to handle on-the-road duties for Elton John and also took on the not inconsiderable task of managing The Pogues throughout their glory days, before heralding The Frames through their lean years (he proclaimed that band’s debut single ‘The Dancer’ as the finest Irish single since The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks’). After four decades, Murray remains at the industry’s coalface, managing gruff-voiced rabble rouser and balladeer The Mighty Stef. He sat down with Hot Press in the last days of 2010 to reflect upon Phil Lynott’s legacy, and all points beyond.
When was the first time you saw Phil Lynott perform?
The first time I saw him he was singing with the Black Eagles. They used to wear really flashy dark blue jackets, kind of like bolero, almost like a Mexican mariachi jacket, like a lounge singer. And because it came to his waist his legs seemed to go on forever, and I just thought ‘Fuck me!’ But there was something about him that kept your eyes trained on him all night. He was kind of a magnetic figure. You’d be looking at him, like. All the guys had band uniforms but he still stood out, even ignoring the fact that he was a black guy. His body size, he was six foot odd and he was slim.
Clothes were obviously a big thing at the time.
Big time. You had to develop your own style in those days clothes-wise, whereas in London they had the outbreak of boutiques with all kinds of nice clothes on all levels from high level tailoring. Like John Lennon could go to Saville Row and get all his suits made, to ordinary boutiques on King’s Road or Edgeware Road. We didn’t really have that choice here in Ireland. Eventually one shop did come in on Capel Street, Even Steven, but the problem was half the town shopped there as well, so you were gonna be looking like half the town. Phil’s mother would always send him clothes over from Manchester. But he was one of those guys – you know when people describe a model and say she can throw anything on and she looks beautiful? Well Philip was the male equivalent of that. He could throw on anything and it always fell on him properly. He’s the kind of guy who could take a white shirt out of a briefcase that had been there for two days and in ten minutes it would look like it was pressed.