JIM FITZPATRICK. LIZZY DAYS: A WORK IN PROGRESS. 2012.
Jim FitzPatrick: ‘ANYONE HERE SEEN MY OLD FRIEND PHILIP ?’ 2003.
‘This pen and ink drawing was for an ongoing series of works I use as a form of therapy –a kind of visual diary of my feelings from time to time. Philip was a great friend to me and I suppose this was my way of saying I missed him. I have only ever shown it to his girls, Kathleen and Sarah, in 2004 and I think they understood what I was at. I got my own son, Conánn, a very talented caricaturist to sketch my face for the drawing and I added my own touch. It is one of my own very personal pieces.’
THIN LIZZY. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION.
Thin Lizzy are probably the seminal Irish rock band: before Thin Lizzy there were of course many superb Irish musicians, singers and bands (including some of the dreaded showbands) but none had the impact or put Irish rock music on the map internationally like Thin Lizzy.
Fronting this talented and often-changing lineup was the incredibly charismatic vocalist and lyricist, Irishman -and Dubliner, Philip Lynott.
Philip was one of my best friends and a hugely supportive ally in my own effort to carve out a career as an artist: he encouraged me and commissioned a lot of fine work for the band and even sometimes for himself. He recognized that I had a special talent and he liked to think he was the one who saw it first and used it to the max.
We often worked together on crazy ideas for album covers, many which never saw the light of day and others, like Jailbreak and Johnny the Fox, which started off as an idea for something completely different, more comic book style for Jailbreak while the initial designs for Johnny the Fox evolved into my most sophisticated artwork for the band. Once we were left alone both Philip and myself banged heads until we were both of one mind and the results were for me, an artist, just pure pleasure. I was free to express myself.
Even the well-known and universally familiar Thin Lizzy logo was born out of one of those sessions: I had just finished the artwork for the poster for The Rocker –incidentally my own favourite Lizzy tune –and I suggested to Philip that we needed a more permanent and immediately recognizable logo for the band.
Philip agreed and as we were talking he told me he loved the final art for The Rocker and thought the lettering was just A1: ‘Why don’t you draw me a logo like that,’ he said, ‘ Keep the capital T and the ‘h’ and the rest will just follow’. That’s how the Lizzy Logo was born.
A couple of weeks ago I was browsing in a Dublin bookshop and came across a book of great band logos called ‘ID’ and there it was, a full page all to itself. Still gives me a buzz.
Philip is gone and of course I miss so much about him, his wit, his charm, his cackling laugh but I miss a great friend, fellow artist and creative collaborator too.’
A NOTE FROM THE ARTIST.
THIN LIZZY. VAGABONDS OF THE WESTERN WORLD. ALBUM COVER. 1973.
‘My very first Thin Lizzy artwork! Poet and publisher Peter Fallon introduced me to Philip in Neary’s pub in Dublin and we hit it off straight away. We had a love of American comic books, poetry, Ireland and all things Irish and a shared fatherless upbringing.
I was absolutely delighted when Philip asked me to do the cover and poster for the upcoming ‘Vagabonds’ album and I had a couple of roughs over to him in London the following week. He loved the gatefold rough I prepared but the record company knocked it on the head so we went for the best part of the design and worked it up.
The logo was based of Tim Booth’s design –I just glossed it up a little –and the Marvel comics influence is very much in evidence.
‘Vagabonds’ has so many happy memories for me and I wish Philip was still around to share them one last time.’ -JF
I penned the above little note for my website and found that my memory, which is usually very dependable, had blurred that events that led to myself and Philip meeting for the very first time. Of course I could simply rewrite the story in the light of new events and the recovered memories that flow back often through meeting up with the old Lizzy gang or friends from that very crowded and crazy period.
Peter Fallon, Frank Murray and myself played team football together for a ramshackle team Peter christened ‘Energy Reserves’. I had suggested ‘Dynamo Dresden’ but good taste prevailed. Our first game was an absolute disaster, hammered 7-1 by Blackrock College (I got our only goal! -remember it well too -I chased a loose ball and turned and buried it!). Losing that one hurt and it took us a year to get revenge and by then we had a superb team with much better players, including Frank who was a wild long-haired winger with great pace who I fed off for many of my scores. I could go on and on ad infinitum about my football days -I only gave up last year -but I know well that glassy-eyed thousand-yard stare when I wax lyrical about the beautiful game.
Frank went on to be Philip’s road manager for many years; we stayed friends and still are and Frank is a mine of information from the inside on the old Lizzy days. Peter Fallon and myself collaborated for many years on the Tara Telephone beat poet stuff together with Eamonn Carr, later a the dri mmer for Irish band Horslips and is now a respected journalist.
Tara Telephone is a tricky one to explain unless you are familiar with the period and with the ‘beat group’ idea. The ‘beat’ referred to was not a musical term but related to the beatnik culture that spawned such great poetry and literature of the period. Our heroes were Kerouac, Ginzberg, and the ‘City Lights’ Beat Generation culture of San Franscisco; I personally was more influenced by the visuals of the 60s, the psychedelic poster art of the greats like Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelly, Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso and a few others. Their influence and the whole 60s thing has always stayed with me; I was part of it too back then with my now-iconic red and black Che Guevara http://buydiazepambest.com poster of 1968 -but strangely enough it was not that version that was my own personal favourite, it was the ‘Psychedelic Che’ silver foil poster of 1969 (Here with another silver foil poster for Club Elizabeth in Dublin) that worked best for me artistically.
MORE AS I GET TIME TO WRITE. JIM 🙂
VAGABONDS OF THE WESTERN WORLD. THIN LIZZY. 1973
Strange Days indeed: I was in town after an interview with Tom Dunne for Newstalk end September 2012 when I ran into Frank Murray, Philip Lynott’s best mate and personal manager. ‘Read the piece you wrote last night on ‘Vagabonds’: I have the rest of the story for you’. Coincidence or what? We went for a coffee in Bewleys and I used my iphone to record our conversation. I will sort it tonight and add it to the notes I have written so far right here on this page.
I told you here I met up and spoke to Frank Murray the other day. He spoke about how I got to do the ‘Vagabonds’ cover.
The Inside Story of the Vagabonds Cover.
Most of this is new information to me and came about from a chance meeting between myself and Frank Murray in Grafton Street a few days ago. Frank had read my posts about ‘Vagabonds’ on my Facebook Jim FitzPatrick Gallery Page and said to me; ‘Jim, you are missing a chunk of the story from the inside’. So off we went for a coffee in Bewleys and I recorded Frank on my iPhone.
According to Frank Murray, Philip’s best mate and confidante, Philip was looking for someone to do the new album cover for Thin Lizzy.
‘The ‘New Day’ EP was done by a guy called Dave Rowe and I felt it was too hippy-trippy so I said to Philip, ‘I know an artist called Jim FitzPatrick in Ireland’ and that is how you got involved’.
Both myself and artist Tim Booth were asked to do roughs for the forthcoming album and both Philip and Frank reckoned my more elaborate rough was nearer to what they wanted plus the fact that Tim was very busy with his own band, ‘Doctor Strangely Strange’.
If I remember correctly the album art for Tim’s band was my friend Roger Dean’s first album cover –Roger went on to design all ‘Yes’ albums. I used to buy those albums just for the beautiful covers!)
Frank’s understanding was that Philip knew Tim, probably didn’t know me but he knew my work, Tim was a friend and had done a Thin Lizzy logo for Philip while I was a friend of Frank from a few years before when we played football for a team called ‘Energy Reserves’, captained by Peter Fallon, now a highly regarded poet in Ireland.
Peter Fallon was a friend who I collaborated with as an artist via Ireland’s only beat group, Tara Telephone; Peter’s brother B.P.Fallon was publicist for John Lennon and later Marc Bolan and T-Rex. We had a magazine/booklet published by Tara Telephone called ‘Capella’ and my work was on every cover, pretty wild stuff too, while luminaries like Lennon, Bolan, David Bowie, Allan Ginzberg and Adrian Henri all contributed their talents and verses for our modest little publication.
After Frank had discussed this with Philip he got on the phone to me and briefed me that the title would be ‘Vagabonds of the Western World’,
I loved the title with it’s sideways nod to Irish writer John Millington Synge, author of The Playboy of the Western World’ which caused a riot in the Abbey Theatre in Dublin , calmed only by poet W.B.Yeats himself when he o roared down from the stage:
‘Dubliners, you have disgraced yourselves again!’
Philip always had this literary instinct and it flourished in this early writing too.
Frank told me over the phone the idea in their heads was that Lizzy were supposed to be some kind of band of rock ‘n roll gypsies, roaming vagabonds and general mischief makers. He gave the same brief to both myself and Tim and myself.
‘You came back, said Frank, with the most complete version (that was the gatefold idea in full colour) and Tim sent one; I forget what Tim’s idea was but I know it didn’t strike me immediately and I was getting on to Tim and saying ‘Can you do this, can you do that’ and Tim was saying; ‘How many of these do you want me to do?’ and there was the question of payment for so many roughs and add the time element with Tim being so busy always -all that would be a red rag to a bull to Philip, who just wanted it done.
I remember ringing you again and telling you to add in the little totems Philip wanted, for himself, Eric and Brian (the little spider, frog and mouse) and you sent over the best design; I remember it was on tracing paper with little notes added all over it so when myself and Philip were on the plane to Dublin, Philip said to me ‘Well, what are we doing about the sleeve?’ I said, ‘well, we will meet up with Jim FitzPatrick and sort out the cover, Jim, I think has come up with the best idea, Tim is very busy at the moment, so we will meet up with Jim’.
Philip replied ‘Ok, give him a shout and let’s meet up’, and that’s how it came about.
‘Wow!’ I said to Frank, ‘I didn’t know that’.
I had presumed it was via our mutual friend Peter Fallon and the a work I had done for Capella because when Philip, Frank and myself met for the very first time in Nearys Pub, Philip had a copy of Capella with him and told me how much he liked it. Never knew the other side of the story. Myself and Frank need to sit down and talk some more. ?
The Story Behind VAGABONDS OF THE WESTERN WORK Artwork. Part 2.
I was no slouch; I had spent a few years as an advertising Art Director and knew my stuff. I knew how to prepare artwork for reproduction; I knew what could and could not be done. I had won quite a few awards for my work too. I had produced an endless stream of wild graphics and my work was well known, in fact Philip told me what attracted him to ask me to work for the band were my crazy graphics for Tara Telephone, a Dublin beat group, and the poster-poems I produced for them, all printed in wild psychedelic colours…
MORE TO FOLLOW….