Watch Thin Lizzy and Saxon as you’ve never seen them before

Top Of The Pops
(Image credit: BBC)

It's July 1980. Workers at the State Aviation Works in Świdnik, near the Polish town of Lubin, begin a series of strikes that'll eventually lead to the formation of the Solidarity labour movement and the democratisation of the nation.

In the US, former California Governor and actor Ronald Reagan becomes the Republican nominee for U.S. President at the party's National Convention in Detroit, and in Russia, the opening ceremony of the heavily-boycotted Moscow Olympics is held.

Meanwhile, in Britain, Saxon and Thin Lizzy have been lined up to perform on the July 9 edition of the nation's favourite music TV show, Top Of The Pops. Saxon will play 747 (Strangers In The Night), while Thin Lizzy are scheduled to perform Chinatown

But neither band are anywhere to be seen. 

We're presuming Saxon were in the US at the time (the internet tells us Saxon played at the Towson Arena in Towson, Maryland on July 8). And Thin Lizzy? Who knows?  

But rehearsals must go on, so the director goes ahead with a dry run of the show, with BBC staff standing in for Phil Lynott, Biff Byford and the other band members. 

They're not very good stand-ins. And we have some questions.

1. Why do Saxon have a keyboard player?
2. Why do Thin Lizzy have a keyboard player?
3. Surely they could have found a more convincing Phil Lynott? And why does he look so lost? He works there.
4. Is that Bill Gates?
5. Why is the otherwise excellent Saxon guitarist playing an upside-down Telecaster?

Disappointingly, the final version of the show was never shown because of a BBC musicians’ strike, and this particular edition of Top Of The Pops was lost to the world forever. But look on the bright side: now that this footage has surfaced, we'll always have not-quite-Phil Lynott.  

Saxon's performance begins at 1'09", while Thin Lizzy are on at 7'30". 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. 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.