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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
Even during the three-piece band with Eric Bell, we used to tape gigs off the mixing desk most nights and we’d be driving home in the car and we’d put it on the cassette player and listen. Phil was always listening back, listening back, listening back, trying to improve things. The same in the studio. If we finished in the studio at three or four in the morning, when we’d be going home in the car together he’d be playing this stuff back to me over and over again. We’d wake up the next morning and the first thing on the tape player would be the stuff we’d done the day before. He was constantly, constantly listening. It was his work, you know? He felt his work was important. He had standards. He was a bit of a perfectionist.
When did you notice those standards start to slip?
You’d play a gig and you’d stay overnight, so you’re not in a car to listen to it and you might go partying in a club instead. Next morning you wouldn’t listen to it because you’d have to go to a radio station and do an interview. Other duties took over. But he never gave up on it, he could still go to his hotel room and listen. He was still like that with the recorded stuff until the ‘80s. It was important to him. In those days if he didn’t like a solo that was being done, the guitar player had to stay and learn some other solo. In my experience, people doing documentaries about Thin Lizzy don’t really want to know about that, unfortunately. They want to know about Philip and sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. They talk to an awful lot of the wrong people and they seem to ask an awful lot of the wrong questions. You have to understand Phil was a very complex man, again because of his generation. We used to go watch Elvis in his early movies and the characters he played were kind of tough no-nonsense people. Phil often used to quote that thing from Kid Creole, ‘I ain’t no grease monkey. I ain’t gonna slide for you’. Skid Row toured America twice and Gary Moore was this great guitar player and Brush was a great bass player and Noel Bridgman was an incredible drummer, but the one thing that Philip had over any of those people was that he was a star. He liked that. And Philip liked his buddies around him. He liked the comfort zone. Scott was always there, Gary would always be in and out, BD was always there. He didn’t like strangers. I think he was afraid of starting again.