Thin Lizzy's Lynott Lives On

Late Thin Lizzy leader honored with hometown statue and concert, Hollywood movie

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This Friday, a bronze statue of Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott will be unveiled in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland, on the corner of Grafton and Harry streets. The following night, on what would have been Lynott's fifty-sixth birthday, several surviving members of the rocker's band -- guitarists Gary Moore, Scott Gorham, Brian Robertson and Eric Bell, plus drummer Brian Downey and keyboardist Darren Wharton -- will perform at the tribute concert "The Boy Is Back in Town" at the Point Theatre in Dublin.

"After Philip died, I died with him, to be quite honest with you," admits Lynott's mother, Philomena. "The next thing was, I started getting mail from all over the world, from people that loved his music. I've kept every postcard and letter I've ever received. [Fans] started asking, 'Is there anything happening to commemorate Philip and his music?' That's when we decided." Over the course of twenty years, through the trust fund Roisin Dubh Trust, arrangements were eventually made to erect a statue. "It's going to be beautiful," says Philomena.

Lynott sang, wrote and played bass for hard rockers Thin Lizzy, best known in the U.S. for their anthem, "The Boys Are Back in Town," and their hit 1976 album, Jailbreak. But all told, the group issued thirteen albums between 1971 and 1983, including a pair of releases that raced up the U.K. charts, 1978's Live and Dangerous and 1979's Black Rose: A Rock Legend. Lynott, who specialized in poetic lyrics that have drawn comparisons to those of Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith, even published several books of poetry. But after years of hard living, Lynott died on January 4th, 1986, at the age of thirty-six. Since Lynott's passing, renowned rockers have demonstrated their admiration for Lynott and Thin Lizzy through cover recordings, including Metallica ("Whiskey in the Jar") and Smashing Pumpkins ("Dancing in the Moonlight").

A movie about Lynott's life, based on Philomena's 1996 book about her son, My Boy, is now being adapted into a movie, with Academy Award-winning actress Holly Hunter slated to play Philomena and CSI actor Gary Dourdan set to play Phil. "Noel Pearson [producer of My Left Foot] invited me to lunch once, and Gary Dourdan walked in," says Philomena. "We had a great time -- we spent a whole day together. I took him to visit Philip's resting place, and I took him back to the house. We had some lovely pictures taken, and he's now my friend. When the movie does get made, I think he'll be perfect."

But Philomena would also like to focus her efforts -- and the Roisin Dubh Trust -- on new talents. "The Trust is going to run awards for up-and-coming young bands and help them," she says. "There's an awful lot of great young talent out there, and they just can't get off the ground because they don't have money or managers. When money comes in, we'll even open an academy for up-and-coming bands, give them something to look forward to." In this way, Philomena wants to commemorate her son's memory: through music and generosity.

"I'm tired of picking up magazines and reading, 'Phil Lynott: rock star who died of the drugs,'" she says. "I'd like him to be remembered as a wonderful son, a kind and gentle soul, a great musician, poet, songwriter, lyricist. That's 'mother' talking, but I know he was great. That's why the fans are still there, and that's why they wanted him honored."