While playing local venues around Dublin, Ireland, they began to include some original material into their act and under the name Thin Lizzie released an Lynott penned number called "The Farmer" in 1970, which failed to gain much interest. Shortly after, Wrixon left the group. Now working as a trio they signed with Decca Records and recorded two modestly selling albums, "Thin Lizzy" in 1971 and "Shades Of A Blue Orphanage" in 1972. It would take a rock version of a traditional Irish tune called "Whiskey In A Jar" to bring the band into the limelight as they single topped the charts in Ireland and reached number six in England.
By the time Thin Lizzy recorded a third album, 1973's "Vagabonds Of The Western World", Phil Lynott had begun to dominate the band and in 1974, Eric Bell also decided to leave. His replacement was former Skid Row guitarist, Gary Moore, who only lasted a few months before also packing it in. During May and June of 1974, guitarists Andy Gee and John Cann, aka Johnny Du Cann, teamed up with Lynott and Brian Downey. Cann had been with Atomic Rooster and Gee had previously been with Steve Ellis' band, Ellis.
The stage was now set for Thin Lizzy to establish their now-famous twin lead guitar sound, with the addition of Scott Gorham and Brian "Robbo" Robertson. Two new albums were released, "Night Life" in 1974 and "Fighting" in 1975, but the twin lead sound was still evolving. Thin Lizzy perfected their use of it on their first USA tour in 1975 with Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Bob Seger. Touring with these two well seasoned bands was an important step in the maturing of Thin Lizzy and prepared them for what was to follow.
The band's big break came in 1976 with the L.P. "Jailbreak" and what would become their most popular single "The Boys Are Back In Town". The tune sold well on both sides of the Atlantic and the album is considered by most fans as one of their very best.
1976 brought the album, "Johnny The Fox", which was also was very successful on the UK charts. Unfortunately the supporting tour which was to follow its release had to be cut short when Brian Robertson suffered a serious hand injury in a bar room brawl and was told that he would never play again (something which later proved untrue). Guitarist Gary Moore was brought back into the fold and in early 1977 the band toured the United States with Queen.
As the tour drew to a close, Phil, Scott and Brian began preparing their next album, 1977's "Bad Reputation". It was the first of three albums that would be produced by Tony Visconti and was highlighted by some session work by Brian Robertson, who also made guest appearances on the following European tour and appeared once again as a member of the band during a tour of the US in the Fall of '77. The following year brought a double album, "Live And Dangerous", which was released from their '77 London and Toronto recordings after significant re-mixing in the studio. The effort became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic as the album captured more of the Thin Lizzy excitement than their previous studio albums. The track, "Still In Love With You" is thought of by many to be the ultimate Thin Lizzy recording.
As with many bands of the day, alcohol, drugs and personality conflicts took their toll and Brian Robertson left the group after the 1978 Summer tour. Gary Moore was once again recruited for the '78 Fall tour, which would include Australia. Tired of all the touring, Brian Downey thought Australia was just too much for him and drummer Mark Nauseef was brought in to take his place and can be seen in the video of the Australian TV broadcast from that tour.
At the end of the 1978 tour, Gary, Phil and Scott, along with a now well rested Brian Downey re-united in London and Paris to work on the next L.P. "Black Rose, A Rock Legend". Released in 1979, this disc featured a tune about one man's battle with drugs and alcohol, "Got To Give It Up".
During the 1979 concert season, Gary Moore missed a flight to one of the band's shows and was subsequently fired and replaced by Midge Ure for the rest of the tour. As they were opening for Journey and Eddie Money, Thin Lizzy was only on stage for a fifty minute set each show. Although Ure quickly learned enough of the group's material to play the set, there was not enough time to rehearse a two hour show for their scheduled performance at the Reading Festival. Ure had made a previous commitment to join a band called Ultravox that September, but they agreed to wait until he had completed his tour dates with Thin Lizzy, which were slated wrap up on November 1st, but ended up stretching into late April of the following year.
For a tour of Japan and Australia that followed, Dave Flett was brought in to play guitar, which allowed Midge Ure to switch to keyboards on some songs. Thin Lizzy now had the ability to feature three lead guitars. Flett had been a member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band at the time of their hit single "Blinded By The Light".
When the last show of the Japanese tour had finished, Dave Flett left the group and was replaced by Snowy White for the tour of Ireland that followed. Phil Lynott had seen White play with Pink Floyd's road band at Madison Square Gardens while auditioning potential replacements. Snowy signed on in November of 1979 and began touring with the band the following Spring. When the Irish tour had wrapped up around the end of April 1980, Midge Ure left the band.
1980 brought many changes for Thin Lizzy. On Valentines Day, Phil Lynott married Caroline Crowther, the mother of his baby daughter Sarah and they had a second child, Cathleen. Lynott also released his first solo album, "Solo In Soho". The L.P. contained the song "Yellow Pearl", which was later selected as the theme song for the TV show, Top Of The Pops. Although the album was released as a solo Phil Lynott project, it included Thin Lizzy members Brian Downey, Scott Gorham and Snowy White as well as Midge Ure, Mark Knopfler, Huey Lewis and several others.
The latest edition of Thin Lizzy toured in support of their 1981 album, "Chinatown" and joining Phil, Scott, Brian and Snowy was keyboardist Darren Wharton. Although Snowy White was a highly regarded guitarist, he received heavy criticism for his lack of showmanship and the tour failed to generate much excitement. Lynott's drug dependency only added to the problem.
A greatest hits compilation called "The Adventures Of Thin Lizzy" was released in 1981 and although it sold modestly in North America, went gold in the UK. An album of new material called "Renegade" was a disappointing seller and was poorly received by fans or critics alike. The supporting tour in late 1981 was better attended than the previous outing, although it suffered from Lynott's unreliability due to his ever increasing personal problems. When the tour ended, Snowy White had had enough and quit the band.
In 1982, Lynott released his second solo album, a forgettable effort called "The Philip Lynott Album", which was supported by a solo tour. During parts of 1982 and 1983, he also spent some time producing and performing in the studio with the band AUTO DA FE. Several singles and one compilation album resulted.
With slow sales of both "Renegade" and Lynott's latest solo album, along with the apparent excesses rampant in the organization, Thin Lizzy found itself on the verge of bankruptcy. In an effort to get back on track, guitarist John Sykes was hired to replace Snowy White and a 1982 album called "Thunder and Lightning" and a farewell tour were planned, primarily to raise enough money to close things out.
Somewhat surprisingly, the tour and the album proved to be extremely successful and featured what many fans consider to be some of the band's best work in years. Thin Lizzy was going out in a blaze of glory. The tour lasted nearly a year and wrapped up at the Hammersmith Odeon with some special guest guitarists joining Scott Gorham and John Sykes. The Farewell Concert featured Brian Robertson, Eric Bell and Gary Moore performing with Phil Lynott and the band. The 1983 double live album called "Life" included this highlight from the tour, but the excitement of the moment was lost by its delayed release.
Thin Lizzy played their final show in the UK at the Reading Festival on August 28th, 1983 and their farewell concert came on September 4th, 1983 in Nuremberg. After Thin Lizzy ceased to exist, Phil Lynott's heroin use continued even more openly. His wife Caroline eventually had enough and left him, taking the children with her.
Lynott went on to form a band called Grand Slam and took on several solo projects. His battle with drugs continued until he was found unconscious in his home on Christmas Day, 1985. He died on January 4th, 1986 with his mother Philomena Lynott at his side.
Thin Lizzy' returned to the record charts five years after Lynott's death when Brian Downey and Scott Gorham went back into the studio and used modern techniques to replace the guitar and drum tracks on a studio recording of a song called "Dedication" that Phil Lynott had recorded but never released. The result was the title track of a greatest hits album called "Dedication: The Very Best of Thin Lizzy" in 1991 as well as a companion video.
In 1993, Bobby Tench sang lead vocals for a concert series called "An Evening With The Thin Lizzy Band" which featured Brian Downey, Brian Robertson, Doish Nagle and Dough Brookie. The band played a short tour in Ireland only.
In 1994, a new version of Thin Lizzy went on tour as "A Tribute To Phil Lynott", which featured John Sykes, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, with Marco Mendoza on bass.
Still another album called "Wild One" was released in 1996. It was supposed to include a new version of the title track, recorded in much the same way as "Dedication" had been, but the master tapes were apparently stolen and as a result, the title track does not appear on the album. The CD was issued in Japan only as a two disc set which included previously released but rare live recordings, B-sides and promo items.
In 1998, Thin Lizzy again went on tour and included nearly the same line-up as in 1994: John Sykes, Scott Gorham, Darren Wharton, with Marco Mendoza on bass and Brian Downey on drums. The band hit the road again with Tony Aldridge on drums in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Fan reaction was again enthusiastic.
In December 2000, another greatest hits album called "The Boys Are Back In Town - Swedish Collection" was issued. This effort was extremely well done and included a bonus second disc with more rare tracks and B-sides and liner notes from Phil Lynott himself. Initially released in Sweden only and printed in Swedish, it may eventually be released without the bonus disc in other countries. In early 2002, a four CD boxed set was released in the UK only.
Having shared the stage with Deep Purple for shows in the United States in 2004, Thin Lizzy then toured across the UK and Ireland in 2006. They were slated to support Deep Purple again in April and May of 2007 for their UK tour. The band also announced a major 17-date UK tour in November and December 2007 that featured original guitarist Scott Gorham (lead guitars), John Sykes (lead vocals, guitar), Marco Mendosa (bass) and Michael Lee (drums).
For the Summer of 2009, Thin Lizzy was slated to support AC/DC at stadium shows in England, Ireland and Scotland. Those plans were scuttled after returning drummer Tony Aldridge broke his collarbone in an accident. At the end of June, John Sykes split from the band and the remaining dates for the year were cancelled.
Scott Gorham began to assemble another version of Thin Lizzy, and in May, 2010, after months of work and preparation, a new line-up was announced. Joining Gorham was original drummer Brian Downey, long-standing keyboardist Darren Wharton, Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell, and singer Ricky Warwick from The Almighty, while Marco Mendoza returned to fulfill the bass guitar duties. The new ensemble set out on a full UK and European tour starting in January, 2011.
In April, 2011 Vivian Campbell left Thin Lizzy to rejoin Def Leppard. He was replaced by Guns N' Roses guitarist Richard Fortus. On August 28th, it was announced that Damon Johnson of Alice Cooper's band would be replacing Fortus for Thin Lizzy's tour of the US with Judas Priest. The band's 2012 tour schedule had them heavily booked throughout Europe.