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Watch Thin Lizzy’s historic first appearance on The Midnight Special: grit, charisma and Jailbreak

Introduced by Aretha Frankin, Thin Lizzy’s first appearance on The Midnight Special took place in early 1977



More classic rock gold has been mined from the rich seam operated by the curators of The Midnight Channel‘s YouTube channel, and this time it’s footage of Thin Lizzy playing the classic Jailbreak during an appearance broadcast on March 25, 1977.  

The clip comes from an episode of the show hosted by the great Aretha Franklin – she appears briefly at the beginning of the film – where Lizzy played alongside The Babys, Australian singer-songwriter Brian Cadd and Neil Sedaka. The band also Don’t Believe A Word, which had been released on the Johnny the Fox album the previous August. 

While Brian Robertson played on the studio versions of both songs, he was nowhere to be seen on The Midnight Special, having missed the band’s North American engagements after severing several tendons and nerves in his hands during a violent altercation at a club in London on the eve of the band’s departure for a US tour with Queen. He was replaced by Gary Moore, who had performed with the band in 1973 and 1974 and contributed to 1974’s Nightlife album. 

“Not only was Gary a great guitar player, but he already knew a good portion of the material,” said Scott Gorham. “And the stuff that he didn’t know, we just kinda threw at him over the next two or three days. When we got to America we went in to a rehearsal room and just pounded it out, and the next day we were up and running.”

The result was a performance of Jailbreak that’s much grittier than the studio version, with the traditional flashbombs erupting as the first chord rings out, and the equally traditional police sirens that wail during the instrumental section. And at the front, the great Phil Lynott, looking magnificent and wasted at the same time, oozing the kind of rock star charisma that only Phil Lynott could ooze.