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Thin Lizzy star Ricky Warwick says rock and roll died with Lemmy

NewsBy Roisin Gorman
Ricky Warwick
Ricky Warwick

Belfast legend Ricky Warwick says the heart of rock ’n’ roll died with Motorhead’s Lemmy (below).

In a moving tribute to the iconic heavy metal frontman who died from cancer this week, Ricky says he was an inspiration.

lThe Ulster singer’s former band The Almighty toured with Motorhead and the pair became pals on the road.

“He was the real deal,” says Ricky.

“He was brilliant and loyal and intelligent, much more than people realise.”

Ricky, who shot to global fame when he was chosen to sing with Thin Lizzy, says Lemmy was generous with his advice.

“He was very good to me and very helpful to me. He inspired me and I learned so much from him. He taught me don’t take any crap and don’t let people change you.

“The last time I spoke to him was only three months ago, but I think his lifestyle finally caught up with him.

“To me Lemmy and Phil Lynott were the icons or rock. The heart of rock ’n’ roll died with Lemmy.”

                                                                            Lemmy

The singer, who fronted a reformed Thin Lizzy, is about to release two new albums based on his Belfast childhood.

And it was a cancelled Boxing Day football match six years ago which inspired his new project.

The LA-based singer reveals he’d planned to watch a Linfield and Glentoran game with pal Sam Robinson in 2009 when it was called off and they went to the pub instead.

“We share a similar background in east Belfast and started chatting about music and our upbringing, which led to us writing together,” says Ricky.

But when Thin Lizzy asked him to front their new line-up – original singer Phil Lynott had died in 1986 – Ricky’s solo project took a back seat until last year.

With Sam he’d written enough songs for two albums so he’s released an acoustic set, Hearts on Trees, and a rock collection, When Patsy Cline was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues).

Ricky, who played with New Model Army and founded The Almighty, hopes the new songs will strike a chord with anyone who’s struggled with life as a teenager.

The tracks include everything from stories of world war survivors to the influence of paramilitaries.

“My heroes are all the great lyricists and I believe you have to write from the heart – I want to write stories that suck people in,” he says.

“The stories aren’t directly about the Troubles, but you couldn’t help but be affected by it, by the tensions and the rioting.

“It was an area which was heavily influenced by the paramilitaries, which young kids saw as their chance to be a hero and give them a sense of belonging. Sam knew one guy who was going to join the paramilitaries but ran away to the French Foreign Legion instead. He tried to come back to Damascus Street but he couldn’t fit in any more.”

He’ll be performing the tracks with backing band The Fighting Hearts in a schedule that’s already packed with legends of rock.

Ricky and the new line-up – Robbie Crane, Mark Thwaite and Gary Sullivan – will be supporting Stiff Little Fingers on their UK tour starting next month, just weeks after he played with Def Leppard and Whitesnake in Belfast.

He had fronted over 150 gigs with the Thin Lizzy line-up since 2011, but when the band decided to record new material they took a unanimous decision to rename themselves.

“Playing live as Thin Lizzy was one thing. But recording an album as Thin Lizzy just didn’t feel right so out of respect we became the Black Star Riders,” he explains.

“People still enjoy what we do, and we put on a hell of a rock and roll show with two albums that have been well received and a third due out in early 2017.”

Despite the big names he’s toured with, the 49-year-old admits that playing with Stiff Little Fingers and frontman Jake Burns will be special.

“They are my musical heroes – I’m the luckiest guy in the world. They were the first band I saw live and the reason I went out and bought a guitar.

“I’ve got to know Jake over the years and he’s probably sick of me telling him that.”

But life on the road is very different now he’s a dad of four who sits down to write after doing the school run.

“I still have the same attitude and energy I did when I was younger but I enjoy it more now because I look after myself. You still jump around, but you can’t do that if you’re drunk or high.

“And things like throwing TVs out of hotel windows are fun until you get the bill for the damage and realise everyone else on the tour is making money except you.”

He’ll be back with Black Star Riders after a break and hopes his solo work appeals to fans.

“I’m blessed to have a loyal fan base and playing the new material live with a band will be fun,” says Ricky.

Hearts on Trees and When Patsy Cline was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang the Blues) will be released via Nuclear Blast on February 26.

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