At any given time, diehard Phil Lynott fans can find good reason to visit Dublin, Ireland -- but recently the incentive to visit the late great Thin Lizzy singer's hometown has increased greatly due to the ongoing Philip Lynott Exhibition, an impressive, large scale and reverential expo dedicated to the iconic Irish rock figure.
Since his premature death 25 years ago Lizzy fanatics (and there are many) have been making pilgrimages to Lynott's grave in Saint Fintan’s Cemetery in Sutton (8 miles north of Dublin City centre on the Howth Peninsula) and placing flowers and sundry Thin Lizzy memorabilia by the singer's headstone which, fittingly, is designed by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick, whose traditional Celtic designs graced the covers of many Lizzy records such as Vagabonds of the Western World and Johnny The Fox.
Another major attraction in Dublin for Lynott/Lizzy fans is the life size bronze statue (above with temporary Amoeba sticker) of Lynott leaning on his guitar outside outside Bruxelles pub on Harry Street just off Grafton Street -- a high foot traffic Dublin city centre thoroughfare. Since it was erected six years ago the statue's draw has matched that of monuments and statues dedicated to key Irish historical figures. Similarly, Phil Lynott's figure at the Dublin Waxwork Museum is one of its most popular attractions. But it is the ongoing exhibit, which runs through next month, that has been the most rewarding shrine of all for the legions of visiting Lizzy/Lynott fanatics.
So popular is the exhibit, which was supposed to have closed April 3rd after a one-month run, that it was extended first for an additional month and then (this week it was announced) again extended for an additional five more weeks, to run through June 12th. Under the official title Still In Love With You: The Philip Lynott Exhibition (A Unique Celebration of the Life and Work of an Irish Hero), it is the most perfect tribute the late great Thin Lizzy star, who died in 1986 at 36 years of age -- another rock n' roll lifestyle casualty.
The exhaustive exhibit covers virtually every single aspect of the Irish rocker's life from his childhood in the working class Crumlin neighborhood of Dublin City through his pre-Lizzy bands, and on into the Thin Lizzy years and the band's various lineup changes. The exhibit, which was curated by Ireland's premiere music magazine, Hot Press, and incorporates data from the recently republished Lynott biography My Boy, penned by his mother Philomena Lynott, has been attracting the kind of attention usually reserved for a national historic icon, not a rocker.
About a month ago I was fortunate to be in the Irish capital and hence was able to stop by the exhibit, which had so much to see that I spent a solid hour and a half attempting to take in the numerous rooms of displays; it was a daunting offering of Lizzy/Lynott memorabilia. This included musical instruments, record jackets, photos, gold records, concert posters & various tour swag, Thin Lizzy musical family tree charts, a Phil Lynott (as subject) art exhibit, and a screening room.
Additionally, the day I stopped by was when his mother was there signing copies of her best-selling book. A warm, friendly woman who has seen a tough life (a victim of both poverty and racial bigotry as the single mother of a bi-racial child in 1950s), she is incredibly sharp and looks a lot younger than her 80 years of age. Clearly she is pleased with the response that the exhibition dedicated to her son, who she always addresses as Philip, has been receiving.
The Philip Lynott Exhibition is nicely situated on the top floor of the four-storied old-fashioned glass ceilinged Stephen's Green Centre at the end of Grafton Street; coincidentally it is directly across the street from the main entrance to Dublin's large, lush city park, St. Stephens Green, where four decades ago Thin Lizzy did the photo shoot for their 1972 (second LP) Shades of a Green Orphanage. Inside the exhibit that album and every other Lizzy release is examined in detail in the record room. In that room are both 7" singles and 12" LP covers (all original pressings) on display, including every Lizzy release, every solo Lynott release, plus the countless collaborative projects he was a part of including the short-lived project the Greedy Bastards (aka The Greedies) which included members of Thin Lizzy and the recently broken up Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Paul Cook.
One lineup of The Greedy Bastards, that played the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, included these two Pistols, Lynott, Gary Moore, Chris Spedding, and Jimmy Bain. I learned that there were a total of 17 versions/pressings of Lizzy's breakout hit "Whiskey In The Jar" single, including ones from Yugoslavia and New Zealand.
The exhaustive exhibit painstakingly lists every Thin Lizzy concert in detailed printout form. There are also rows upon rows of ticket stubs from the early days in Lizzy's career including one from obviously long before they were a household name that had mistakenly billed the band in bold type as "Thin Lizzie." In addition to playing a loop of Lizzy and Lynott concert footage and interviews with various Irish artists, such as Damien Dempsey and Bono (U2 both opened for Lizzy and shared bills with them) weighing in on the musical impact of Lynott, the screening room also serves as an art gallery where on the walls there are about 20 framed artist interpretations of Philo (as he is fondly known by many in Ireland), who long has been a popular subject for artists to paint & sketch, by such Irish artists as Paul Joyce, Noel O'Callahan and Lindsay Wright, who did the "Whisky In The Jar'O" pencil sketch below.
The large scale graphs of the various musical family trees are excellently detailed and informative. Not only do they break down the ten main Thin Lizzy lineups and outline all of the Lynott/Lizzy offshoot side projects (including The Phil Lynott Band, The Greedy Bastards, Grand Slam, and The Three Muskateers), but they also trace the personal and early music career history of Lynott's pre Lizzy days with the groups Black Eagles, Skid Row, and Orphanage.
Like many rock lyricists, Lynott, in addition to all the songs he wrote, had also penned countless pieces of poetry. The original hand-written versions of both the song lyrics and poetry are on display in a cool interactive video form. Also on exhibit is one of the three giant Thin Lizzy signs from the Lynott touring days (not to be confused with the post Lynott Lizzy). According to the curators one of other two giant Thin Lizzy tour signs in is James Hetfield of Metallica's collection.
The Philip Lynott Exhibition runs through June 12th in Dublin, Ireland. Admission is 10 Euro. Obviously, most folks reading this blog won't have the opportunity to make it to the Irish capital in that time, but there is currently talk, due to its success, about the exhibition possibly going out on the road and may make its way Stateside. If that happens I will post updates here on the Amoeblog. Meanwhile, below are a series of photos I snapped at the exhibit in Dublin with some text descriptions.
Thin Lizzy 7" Singles Part I
The Black Eagles
Phil Lynott's very first band, with all members in their mid teens, was the Dublin group The Black Eagles, featuring his childhood buddy Brian Downey on drums. The Black Eagles formed in 1965 and lasted two years, disbanding by 1967.
Thin Lizzy 7" singles Part II
Phil Lynott's second band (in 1967) was an early incarnation of Skid Row (not to be confused with the later US band of the same name). In this shot, Phil (as singer), far left, is flanked by (L-R) Brendan Chevers (guitar), Noel Bridgeman (drums), and (the band's star) Brush Shiels on bass. Philo stayed with the band for two years, leaving in 1969. Skid Row continued and Lynott went on to Orphanage.
Part of the Thin Lizzy LP cover section of exhibit
Formed in 1969, Orphanage was comprised of Lynott, Brian Downey (his school pal and fellow member in their first band The Black Eagles), Joe Stauntan, and Pat Quigley. Terry Woods (of Sweeney's Men), who later collaborated with Lynott on a solo project, was a later member of this group, who lasted through 1973, by which time Thin Lizzy had taken off big time.
Thin Lizzy Side Projects family tree, one of several large scale graphs on exhibit that outlines the four major Lynott/Lizzy spin-off groups / projects including famed post Sex Pistols collaboration The Greedy Bastards (aka The Greedies).