Guitarist Brian Robertson Loves Thin Lizzy, Texas Women
As one half of Thin Lizzy's legendary "twin guitar" classic lineup in the mid- to late '70s, Scottish guitarist Brian "Robbo" Robertson started to make an impact on classic-rock history while still a teenager. That's him shredding on the legendary break in Lizzy's most popular (and, alas, also most overplayed) song, "The Boys are Back in Town."
After leaving Lizzy, Robertson formed the band Wild Horses, was briefly a member of Motorhead, and has played sporadically since then. In 2008, he began work on what would become his first solo record, handling vocals as well as guitar on the new release Diamonds and Dirt.
In an interview that set a new Rocks Off record for exclamation points, we spoke with Robertson via phone from Sweden about the new record, Texas groupies, and why he turned down a chance to join the current (though obviously Phil Lynott-less) lineup of Lizzy.
Rocks Off: Before we talk about Diamonds and Dirt, I'd like to get your thoughts on the recent passing of [guitarist] Gary Moore. You replaced him in Lizzy, and then he replaced you.
Brian Robertson: Well, we were pretty close mates, you know and...it was a bit of a shock, to be honest. I was in England at the time, and when I got the call, a report came on the telly. It's difficult to talk about, really...but the thing that pissed me off is that in typical British tabloid fashion, they were saying [falsely] that he died from being drunk and taking drugs.
But that wasn't Gary; he was never into heavy drugs and all that crap. He was into his guitar. They had to retract everything the next day.
BR: Yeah! I had wanted to do a solo record back in the '70s after I left Lizzy, but kind of lost interest. Soren and I had driven a Ford Transit van from Stockholm through Denmark, Germany, France, and Belgium to go to my place in England to get all my recording equipment to go back to Stockholm.
As we were filling the van up, I gave him this big bag of cassettes, and I hadn't marked any of them. He had to drive back on his own and I told him to listen to them. So he stopped about halfway and called me and said "There's some great shit on here! We should do something with it!" And later when he started playing them, I started remembering what I wrote! (laughs)
RO: Since I'm here in Texas, I have to ask what was behind the song "Texas Wind."
BR: Well, it's about people in Texas farting! (dead silence as Rocks Off tries to ponder if this could possibly be true). No, I'm just jokin' with you! (laughs) It's the Scottish sense of humor! It's about... well, most of the songs are about women!
It's kind of me going back to when I spent a lot of time in Texas on tours. But Texas women tend to be looking at your bank balance a lot, don't they? I guess all women do. But those women will hit you so hard so quickly, and then they're gone. And you have no idea what hit you!
But I've always loved Texas, since the ration of men to women in the clubs in [Thin Lizzy touring days] was about seven to one. We also loved to go to blues clubs. Texas was a good time for us!