Thin Lizzy was formed in Dublin, Ireland back in 1969 and initially had Phil Lynott (Bass, vocals and main songwriter), Brian Downey (Drums), Eric Bell (Guitar) and Eric Wrixon (Organist), who left the group after a few months.
Their self-titled debut album was released two years later in 1971 and was followed by another 11 praised and successful studio albums. The band changed their line-up constantly and had famous names like the guitarists Scott Gorham, Gary Moore and Brian Robertson.
They are still remembered as one of the greatest Hard Rock bands of all time and have a name no fan can forget. So Rock and Roll Garage investigated the origin of their name, recovering interviews where Lynott explains how their name was chosen.
How the Irish band Thin Lizzy chose their name
According to the late legendary Phil Lynott as he revealed in an interview back in the 70s made available on Youtube (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), it was the guitarist Eric Bell who had the idea for the name. Curiously, it was Eric Clapton who indirectly influenced the choice of the band’s name.
Bell saw Eric Clapton holding a copy of the comic “The Beano” in his hands on the cover of the album “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” and went to buy one copy for him. While reading he saw a cartoon called “Tin Lizzie”, which told the story of a female robot.
“Eric Bell (had the idea) for the name. There was a comic called ‘The Beano’ on a John Mayall album cover. Eric Clapton was reading and Eric Bell was a big Eric Clapton fan at the time, so. He went out and bought a copy of the ‘The Beano’. There was a female robot called ‘Tin Lizzie’ and he said ‘We should call the band ‘Tin Lizzie’. I thought ‘Oh, that’s dreadful’, what does this mean, you know?”
“So we made it ‘Thin Lizzy’ because Dubliners (would say the band’s name the same way). So this was us being smart, you know, the inner meaning, that the pronunciation would be ‘Tin Lizzie’ and the way you spelt would be ‘Thin Lizzy’. It was as deep as that (laughs),” Phil Lynott said.
Tin Lizzie originally appeared in 1937 in a British comic magazine for kids called “The Dandy”. It was one of the many different stories from various characters that appeared in the publication. It was illustrated by Jack Prout and appeared constantly over the decades in other magazines such as “The Beano”, mentioned by Lynott.
Thin Lizzy came to an end in 1983 after the release of their final album “Thunder and Lightning”. Although Lynott passed away in 1986 at the age of 36, the band was reformed in 1994. Since then the classic member Scott Gorham has been touring with special guests from time to time as Thin Lizzy.
Eric Bell always loved comic books and shared that passion with music
The original Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell was born in 1947 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was only 22 when helped to form Thin Lizzy. He was part of the band only until 1973, appearing on the albums “Thin Lizzy” (1971), “Shades of a Blue Orphanage” (1972) and “Vagabonds of The Western World” (1973).
As he recalled in an interview with “It’s Psychedelic Baby” magazine in 2022, he always loved comic books. It was one of his passions when he was a young kid. “Yeah, comics were part of my life in the 1950’s… There was the Dandy, the Beano, the Topper, the Eagle, and lots more. It was one of the very few entertainments then. And swapping them with friends. I loved the drawings in the comics and tried to copy them,” Eric Bell said.
During a conversation with Blues GR in 2012, Bell also commented on the same thing mentioned by Lynott. “I chose the name from a cartoon called Tin Lizzie. Because Dublin people say tree and tick instead of three and thick I put an H in to make Thin then changed Lizzie to Lizzy,” Eric Bell said.