#IrishLegends: Philo – Irelands first rocker

Phil Lynott, poet, song writer, lead singer and class bassist with Thin Lizzy

philo big

Philip Parris “Phil” Lynott (/ˈlnət/; 20 August 1949 – 4 January 1986) was an Irish singer and musician. His most commercially successful group was Thin Lizzy, in which he was the founding member, principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He later also found success as a solo artist.

Growing up in Dublin in the 1960s, Lynott fronted several bands as a lead vocalist, most notably Skid Row alongside Gary Moore, before learning the bass guitar and forming Thin Lizzy in 1969. After initial success with Whiskey in the Jar, the band found strong commercial success in the mid-1970s with hits such as “The Boys Are Back in Town“, “Jailbreak” and “Waiting for an Alibi“, and became a popular live attraction due to the combination of Lynott’s vocal and songwriting skills and the use of dual lead guitars. Towards the end of the 1970s, Lynott also embarked upon a solo career, published two books of poetry,[1] and after Thin Lizzy disbanded, he assembled and fronted the band Grand Slam, of which he was the leader until it folded in 1985.

He subsequently had major UK success with Moore with the song “Out in the Fields“, followed by a minor hit “Nineteen”, before his death on 4 January 1986. He remains a popular figure in the rock world, and in 2005, a statue was erected in his memory.       (via wikipedia)

Philo was born in England to his Irish mother who, like many more Irish for many many years, had to emigrate from her home, and a black man from Latin America who was working in England also. There is a bit of dispute as to the origins of his father, many claim he was a black man from Brazil, but it seems he was  an Afro-Guyanese from Brazil’s neighbouring country, what was previously a part of the British empire: Guyana.

Philo’s mother Philomena was and still is a remarkable woman. She experienced tough times. When she had Phil she was thrown out of her home because she was an unmarried mother who not only had a child out of wedlock, but a black one… Remember for many years in Briatain it was common to see signs up in digs (living quarters) like the following

“No Irish, No Blacks, No dogs”

(image found here)

no blacks

She was sent to a workhouse for a while. She struggled for years, having to get the bones from the butcher “for the dogs” but in fact cooked them up in water to make a brew of sorts for herself and young Philo. Feeling she could no longer provide, she sent little black 4 year old philo back to her parents in Crumlin, in Dublin town. Back then, in the early 1950’s there were no colored people in Ireland, times were tough, it was a very conservative and backward country. Young Phil stood out, his grandparents were too embarresed to say to people that young phil with his big head of bushy hair was their own grandchild, they said they had taken in a young kid whose parents had died in England.

Anyway, Philo grew up and turned into the first real rocker in Ireland. A tough black man with a strong Dublin accent, a passionate Irishman, someone who was different, but he became an absolute legend.

He is buried in a graveyard in Dublin, only 3 doors down from my grandparents; Paddy and Cathlín. Anytime I visited them over the years, there were always a few rockers there beside Philos grave, paying their respect to the man.

And why was he such a legend? As he said himself:

“Cuz im a Rocker!!!!”

The Rocker, from the classic double album of concert in 1978: Live and Dangerous

A bit more about him, interview and a great doc; The Outlaw

TV DOC: The Outlaw (subtitled in Spanish)

The Rocker – A Portrait of Phil Lynott

Phil Lynott – Last TV interview, December 1985

Phil Lynott on the Late Late Show – 18/4/81

Thin Lizzy – Behind the Music

A tribute to Philo from another Irish Rocker, Jape, frontman from Redneck manifesto

Jape – Phil Lynott (HD)


Vagabonds of the Western World, first album with artwork by the legendry Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick.


Myself and Tania having a skol (brazilian cheap beer) and remembering Philo

RIP Philo


Phil Lynott Grave,1949 > 1986 St Fintans Cemetery, Dublin Ireland


Christy Moore: musician, singer, poet, warrior, legend

30 years ago today, Luke Kelly died


One Response to #IrishLegends: Philo – Irelands first rocker

  1. fuspey says:

    great radio doc about philo this morning on RTE

    Our reporter, Brian O’Connell visited Phil Lynott’s mother, Philomena to have a rummage around the attic and uncover some of the childhood history of the late musician.

    One gem they came across was this old report card from Phil’s school in Crumlin.


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