Thin Az Lizzy started as a result of an absolute passion by Johnny Conlan – stage name ‘Johnny D Fox’ - for the music of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. When Johnny was 15, he was learning the piano, piano accordion and guitar. He passed eight grades in his classical training on the piano. It was 1985 when he first heard the music of Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. In Johnny’s words “it was like an explosion of music in my head”.
Phil Lynott became his role model. Therefore he decided to teach himself the bass guitar. He didn’t own a bass guitar, but he did have an old acoustic guitar. Then on 4th January 1986, Phil died at 36 years of age. Johnny was devastated as he was just getting in to him. He bought all the Thin Lizzy records and taught himself the words and bass guitar by ear to every song within one year.
Thin Az Lizzy are recognised as being the best Thin Lizzy tribute act in Ireland. There is no doubt to that. His next goal is to bring Thin Az Lizzy to the point of being the Best Thin Lizzy Band in the world. This will be achieved though the new team that he has amassed. Whatever has to happen to achieve that goal will happen. Johnny has a renewed sense of motivation and focus. While we are not going to tell you the financial objectives, we are going to tell you that within 2 years, it is planned to be doing 150+ shows per annum all around Europe. Then it is planned to bring it further afield.
Johnny admits that “the better the audience is the better we are on stage”. So part of their job onstage is to create good audience participation. TAL are bringing their own flavour to songs and at the same time holding on to what makes the songs great and what the audience loves.
For example, I was videoing a gig in Sligo in November 2016. The venue was packed to the rafters. The promoters didn’t expect half of that crowd because it was November, pouring with rain and freezing cold. I spoke to a few people there who told me they were there purely to see TAL. Within one minute of starting the show, the hall was packed (they came from everywhere in the pub) and people were singing to every song. During their version of Whiskey in the Jar, Johnny got as far as the first four words of the song and stopped singing. The band kept playing and the audience took over for the next two minutes.
Over the past years, Thin Az Lizzy and Johnny have played with people like Henry McCullough of Wings, Midge Ure, Brian Robertson, John ‘Irish Earl’ and Eric Bell. He played support for Status Quo and played at the Vibe for Philo for over ten years for Smiley Bolger.
It is planned in the future to play on stage with other music professionals and entertainers. There are a few reasons for this. One is that it will ensure the same ‘staleness’ does not set in as happened around 2004. It will also fuel ongoing creativity, give an insight as to how others operate, create a larger fan base for Thin Az Lizzy and create further opportunities.