Watch Thin Lizzy's historic first appearance on The Midnight Special: grit, charisma, Jailbreak and Don't Believe A Word

Phil Lynott on The Midnight Special
(Image credit: The Midnight Special)

More classic rock gold has been mined from the rich seam operated by the curators of The Midnight Channel's YouTube channel, and this time it's footage of Thin Lizzy playing the classics Jailbreak and Don't Believe A Word during an appearance broadcast on March 25, 1977.  

The clip comes from an episode of the show hosted by the great Aretha Franklin – she appears briefly at the beginning of the film – where Lizzy played alongside The Babys, Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd and Neil Sedaka. 

While Brian Robertson played on the studio versions of both songs, he was nowhere to be seen on The Midnight Special, having missed the band's North American engagements after severing several tendons and nerves in his hands during a violent altercation at a club in London on the eve of the band's departure for a US tour with Queen. He was replaced by Gary Moore, who had performed with the band in 1973 and 1974 and contributed to 1974's Nightlife album. 

"Not only was Gary a great guitar player, but he already knew a good portion of the material," said Scott Gorham. "And the stuff that he didn’t know, we just kinda threw at him over the next two or three days. When we got to America we went in to a rehearsal room and just pounded it out, and the next day we were up and running."

The result was a performance of Jailbreak that's much grittier than the studio version, with the traditional flashbombs erupting as the first chord rings out, and the equally traditional police sirens that wail during the instrumental section. Don't Believe A Word is more of the same, with Gorham and Moore's guitars sounding as sharp as razor wire. And at the front, the great Phil Lynott, looking magnificent and wasted at the same time, oozing the kind of rock star charisma that only Phil Lynott could ooze. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 37 years in music industry, online for 24. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.