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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 lot of musicians get institutionalised on the road.
There was a bit of that, all right. If you like sex and drugs and rock ‘n roll, the best place to get it is on tour. He loved that. The attitude to drugs in the early days was far more lax than it is now. Back then it was regarded as a bit of a weird thing to do, but you were less likely to be hassled about it by the cops or customs staff. For example, I remember a bunch of us smoking joints on a plane and the stewardess just laughed at us. Then the big stuff came in and Ireland was flooded with cocaine and heroin and gradually it became harder and harder to be seen to use any kind of drugs at all. When the criminal gangs got involved something had to be done about it. When Phil came back to Dublin, the doors had just opened on the heroin rush. Heroin was available to every single body.
And when Lizzy finished and he tried to put together Grand Slam he was too far gone to create it. I think his creative muse was hibernating somewhere. Put it this way, had he given up Thin Lizzy earlier, and had he been confident about recording a solo album, staying at home, kicking back for a year, playing around in the home studio, doing the things that you’re supposed to do, that are kind of normal, I think his songwriting would have developed in a different way. He would have really delivered. He still had so much to give when he died. He went through this great patch, and around the Bad Reputation or Chinatown period things started to slack off. A lot of Lizzy fans would disagree with me, but some of the songs were hit-and-miss on some of those records. I think if he had finished around then, he’d enough status to relax for two or three years. If he’d stayed healthy and some time in the early ‘90s said, ‘By the way I’m getting Thin Lizzy back together’, they could have been one of the biggest bands in the world, you know? A lot of that generation, whether it was Dinosaur Jr., whether it was Metallica, whether it was Slash, there was another cycle there. Of course we all know what happened in between, but I would have loved if it had happened like that.