"He Was Fanatically Irish" says Thin Lizzy cover artist

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“I was introduced to Philip by [original Lizzy manager] Frank Murray in Neary’s pub in Dublin, and we got on like a house on fire immediately.”

We’d seen each other for years beforehand – we’d walk down Grafton Street and nod at each other – but I didn’t know who he was at the time. I just knew he was a musician.

When he asked me to do the Lizzy artwork, I was a very successful art director in advertising, but I was on the verge of packing it all in and becoming an artist. I would’ve done their cover for nothing. I loved Lizzy, and I admired the way Phil ruthlessly went about everything. He was very driven, like myself. We both had a similar background – abandoned by our fathers at very early ages, which kind of gives you that chip on your shoulder where you have to prove yourself.

My first cover was Vagabonds Of The Western World. I wasn’t a musician, I haven’t a note in my head, but I knew what to do with graphics. So I did a couple of very elaborate roughs and Philip loved them. It was important to Philip that they had a Celtic feel. I’m a tall, red-haired freckly guy, typically Irish, and he was this long, rangy black fellow, but he was much more fanatically Irish then I was.

We were about the same height, and one time he leant me his clothes. He gave me this shirt designed by Ferga Murray, and I gave him my denim platform shoes. I still have the shirt. God knows where the shoes are today.”

Cover for Thin Lizzy's 1976 album 'Jailbreak'

Cover for Thin Lizzy's 1976 album 'Jailbreak'

Cover for 1979's 'Black Rose'

Cover for 1979's 'Black Rose'