- 17 Jul 19
The first time I met Philomena Lynott was in Manchester Airport. I got married in 1969. We had no money for our honeymoon. Phil said, “My mam has a hotel over in Manchester, in Moss Side, Whalley Grange, why don’t you go over? I’ll go as well!” So I thought it was a great idea!
It was my wife Margaret’s first time on an airplane. When we got to the airport in Manchester, Phyllis and her boyfriend Dennis were waiting for us. She was completely the same then as she was 50 years later – somewhere between Maureen O’Hara and Doris Day. She was larger than life even then – you got the impression everybody in the airport knew her.
We got back to the hotel, and a few hours later I heard her on the phone saying, “I have a bass player here that can do that job for you.” There was a lot of bands staying there. She said to me “Do you know a band called The Ivy League?” I did, as they’d had two hits at the time, ‘That’s Why I’m Crying’ and ‘Tossing And Turning’. I even knew the history of the band, that they used to be called Carter Lewis and the Southerners, that they used to play on the Saturday Club for Brian Matthew and so on. She was very impressed with that.
Anyway, there was a flu out at the time called the Hong Kong Flu and the bass player had that – so she wanted me to stand in for him. They were booked for a week. I ended up playing twice a night for the seven nights of my honeymoon! The place was so full the first night we had to sleep on the floor of the bar. I remember her saying “Well, at least you’ll get your breakfast in bed!” She arrived down the next morning with a full fry-up! So, from the first day on, we were great pals, all down through the years.
She really kept the Philip Lynott legacy alive after he died. Nobody else could have done it. If the truth be known, in many ways, people were as interested in Phyllis as they were in Phil. When Phil died, people needed something to cling onto, and they had Phyllis: a surrogate mother would be the wrong phrase to use, but she was nearly like a surrogate Phil.
I was doing a gig in Raheny about a year ago and she was there. At one point in the night she got up on the seat – don’t ask me how she got up there – and in a very loud voice started telling everyone in the place how great I am! After that, I spoke to her on the phone periodically. The last laugh I had with her was – I got a phone call from Frank Rodgers from Decca Records, telling me that Phyllis had called him to tell him I was dead! This was when I was in hospital after heart failure. So I rang her. She apologised profusely. She had heard I was very ill in hospital. So she came in to see me.
I remember she went around every ward in the place that day, chatting to all the nurses, the doctors... saying hello to all the patients. It was the best visit ever! Everyone in the hospital was thrilled. Philomena Lynott had that effect on people.
She really was extraordinary.
- Live Review
- 03 Jun 23