Thin Lizzy spent years fine-tuning their sound before becoming one of the most recognized rock bands of the mid-70s.
What started as a bluesy folk rock project influenced by Celtic culture and frontman Phil Lynott’s Irish upbringing took a 180 somewhere around 1975. In 1976, Thin Lizzy found themselves at the forefront of a burgeoning hard rock scene with one of the year’s biggest hits.
The Boys Are Back in Town
Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzy formed in Dublin in 1969. Drummer Brian Downey and bassist/lead vocalist Phil Lynott met while still in school, long before they ever dreamed of being legendary rock icons. As the group’s de-facto leader, Lynott wrote most of the band’s material over the course of 12 studio albums between 1971 and 1983. Thin Lizzy’s first projects were rooted in blues and Celtic folk, with little indication of the heavier rock sound they’d infuse later on.
The band performed their first gig at a school hall near the Dublin Airport in February 1970. By the end of the year they’d signed to Decca Records and gone to London to record their self-titled debut LP. The album was only a modest seller and failed to chart in the UK. Unfortunately this trend continued over the course of the first four albums, even with a successful single in 1972: “Whiskey in the Jar” was Thin Lizzy’s take on a traditional Irish ballad, which Decca released against the band’s will. Despite this, it reached #1 in Ireland and #6 overall on the UK charts.
Thin Lizzy finally had a charting album with their fifth project, called Fighting, in 1975. It reached #60 in the UK, though the band continuously struggled to find any sort of commercial success. Still, however, they did well on the road, touring the US for the first time as support for Bob Seger and Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
In 1976, Thin Lizzy recorded Jailbreak, which proved to be the breakthrough they’d been hoping for. “The Boys Are Back in Town” was a worldwide hit and helped fully define the band’s hard rocking, twin-guitar sound. Shortly after the album’s release, Thin Lizzy toured the US again with Aerosmith, Rush, and REO Speedwagon. This helped solidify their status in the brand new market they’d just broken into.
“The Boys Are Back in Town” is easily one of the greatest hard rock hits of all-time. Apart from its immediate commercial success and what it did for the band, the song would forge Thin Lizzy’s legacy as a progenitor of heavy metal, with bands like Metallica, Alice in Chains, Mastodon, and Testament all citing Thin Lizzy as a primary influence.
Watch the video below to learn more about Thin Lizzy and their hit song ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’!