Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy in action in Edinburgh in 1983. Photo by Andy Small

Rock bands’ stories told in words of their fans

A Manchester, UK-based publisher is filling an engrossing niche in the field of rock music literature with a series of books that tell the story of top bands through the eyes and words of fans who went to their concerts. Editions so far have included the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Jam, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, and a new one will feature Thin Lizzy.
26. April 2022 13:45

Spenwood Books is a small independent publisher and can be said to be suitably located, Manchester being a musical heart of north-west England as the home of The Hollies, The Bee Gees, 10cc, The Smiths, Oasis, Simply Red, New Order, Joy Division, Happy Mondays, The Fall and others.

The books contain fan memories and are compiled by music historian Richard Houghton, who is the author of more than a dozen rock volumes, from The Beatles to Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays. Other titles are in preparation to follow “Thin Lizzy – A People’s History”, which will be published by Spenwood on July 8 this year.

Houghton says the new book tells the story of the Irish rock legends in the words of more than 400 fans, assembling previously untold eyewitness accounts of the band in action from their Dublin roots to their break-up in 1983.

He said: “The Thin Lizzy story is one of myths, legends, romance, rock riffs and some of the greatest music to blast over the airwaves in the Seventies and Eighties. More than anything, the band famed for hits ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, ‘Jailbreak’, ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and ‘Waiting for an Alibi’ are remembered for exhilarating live performances – the twin guitars, the explosive drumming, the dry ice, the police sirens and flash bombs, all orchestrated by their iconic lead singer and bass guitarist, Phil Lynott.

“Lizzy were the first rock band from Ireland to achieve international fame and Phil Lynott one of the most celebrated and most fondly remembered musicians in rock.”

“Thin Lizzy – A People’s History” takes the reader on a journey through their career, from Lynott’s Dublin childhood to Lizzy’s early success, the trans-Atlantic breakthrough with the album “Jailbreak” and the chasing of fame in America, and on to the rows, the walk-outs and the break-up.

Line-up changes saw Lizzy get through five guitarists – Eric Bell, Brian Robertson, Gary Moore, Snowy White and John Sykes – and their story ended with the disappointment of failing to break America, the impact of drugs, Lynott’s ill-fated attempt to continue his career post-Lizzy and, ultimately, the sad loss of this charismatic frontman.

As an example of Spenwood’s approach, Houghton explained: “‘I’ve talked to people who saw Lizzy at the very start of their career right through to the very end. Shining through the book is Lizzy’s rapport with their audiences, with tales of dressing room encounters with Phil, Brian Downey and Scott Gorham, who were determined to stay connected to their fan base even at the height of fame. This is Lizzy, live and dangerous on stage and up close and personal from the fan’s perspective.”

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