Vagabond of the Western World
Phil Lynott: The Rocker - Mark Putterford
Member Name: steerpyke
Phil Lynott: The Rocker - Mark Putterford
Date: 10/01/07, updated on 10/01/07 (542 review reads)
Advantages: from the mouths of those that new him best
Growing up as a half-caste kid, with and absent mother and unknown father in a strict catholic family in Dublin in the fifties, is probably not the best start in life for someone aiming to be a rock star. But despite these set backs, or possibly because of them, Phil Lynott did, as front man with Thin Lizzy, go on to live the rock and roll life style and earn wealth and become highly regarded in his profession. Sadly all of the problems that go hand in hand with the playboy rock star lifestyle also descended upon his life and these resulted in a tragic but not entirely unexpected death aged only 36. Whatever the medical verdict, most people that knew him would tell you it was death by lifestyle. Ireland, and especially his hometown of Dublin, still holds him close to their hearts. He was regarded as Irelands first proper rock star and mark Putterfords book is an insight for anyone interested in the man, his music and the times.
“Philo” as he was affectionately known was destined to be a star, people that met him always that there was something special about him, right from the early days when as a teenager he was a fronting “The Black Eagles” playing covers and opening for show bands in town halls. But after a number of bands that have come and gone fro the pages of history it was the formation of Thin Lizzy as a three piece that really gets the ball rolling. The book then follows the highs and lows of a band constantly one step away from falling apart under personal differences or record company displeasure, until through sheer hard work and belief in the dream Thin Lizzy hit their stride in the mid seventies. From then until the early eighties, success and over the top lifestyle went hand in hand and finally the band fell apart. One of the sad aspects of the book is that after Thin Lizzy the man that had been regarded as the hottest property in town in the seventies as a performer, songwriter and sheer decent human being had become renowned for being unproductive, hard work and unreliable, the reasons, the usual drink and drugs. After struggling to get a solo career going and then trying to get Grand Slam off the ground by 1986 it was all over and the inevitable early end had come for Irelands favourite son.
The book is written from the closest of sources. All the ex-band members of Thin Lizzy and previous band tell their own part and that in itself reads like a who’s who of the seventies rock scene. Gary Moore, Eric Bell, Brian Downey, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham all play a large part in the telling as do the management and promotion agents of the time. Along side theses close friends and colleagues a host of other names all help out, Huey Lewis, Bob Geldolf, Midge Ure, and not forgetting Phil’s own mother. The viewpoints are very objective, especially from those that shared a stage with him and show the two sides to this complex character. Phil could be charming, manipulative, a clown, moody, generous, pushy and every emotion in between. In fact some of the most telling commentary on the man comes from one of his closest friends, artist Jim Fitzpatrick who worked with the band from the earliest of days.
The book also shows how shrewd Phil Lynott was in moving with the times, from psychedelic acid rock in the early seventies to classic driven fiery Celtic anthems of their heyday and even aligning himself with members of the Sex Pistols and later New Romantics in an effort to not get left behind and labelled dinosaurs. Many of the stories told here are for the first time and it’s only a shame that there wasn’t an effort to include press footage and quotes from the man himself from the period. Author Mark Putterford may have actively avoided this to prevent the book being subject to Phil’s own view of himself, rather than remaining a more objective view from outside.
It is in fascinating read for anyone interested in rock bands but is essential reading for fans of Lynott and Thin Lizzy. It gives an insight into his outrageous lifestyle, that romantic gypsy and eye for the ladies. It is also very telling about his amazing capacity for drink and drugs and his seemingly unstoppable race towards self destruction after the demise of Thin Lizzy in 1983. It does however show you the softer side of this Irish hell raiser, the family man who doted on his two daughters, wrote sensitive poetry and cared deeply for his supporters (he never called them fans) It will surprise and shock many, but remains an honest warts and all requiem for a tragic genius.
Summary: wonderful insight into the life of Irelands first rock star.