Phil Lynott's Grand SlamView in iTunes
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Though they never issued any official recordings, Grand Slam hold the distinction of being the last band fronted by singer/bassist Phil Lynott, who, as leader of the mighty Thin Lizzy, is widely regarded as one rock & roll's most underappreciated legends. Following their late-'70s heyday, Thin Lizzy's career endured a gradual but irreversible decline so that, by 1983, even main man Lynott was ready to give up the ghost. However, Lynott was overwhelmed by the amazing response that the band encountered during its sold-out farewell tour, and even before it was over, the rock icon had already regretted his decision.
The reality was that, though essentially a life-saving measure for certain Lizzy members, who could now cope with their various drug addictions away from the spotlight, for Lynott (himself living in the throes of an ever-deepening heroin problem) there was to be no escape from the reckless rock & roll lifestyle that he had come to personify so completely. Realizing retirement was simply not an option, he quickly returned to action by coaxing Lizzy drummer Brian Downey to join him in a short-lived combo called the Three Musketeers. Then, after plucking promising young guitarist Laurence Archer from Wild Horses (which, incidentally, was fronted by another fellow Lizzy alum, Brian Robertson), Grand Slam was born in early 1984.
Reportedly named after a song from his young daughter's favorite movie, the gangster spoof Bugsy Malone, the band's lineup was completed by second guitarist and occasional bassist Doish Nagle, keyboardist Mark Stanway, and drummer Robbie Brennan, who, amazingly, had been an original member of Skid Row, Lynott's first major band back in the mid-'60s. Then, armed with a slew of new Lynott and Archer-penned material, Grand Slam made their debut performance on April 7, 1984, and their ensuing tour of the British club circuit met with largely supportive reviews and enthusiastic fan response.
Unfortunately, the tour also saw Lynott and company resuming the hard-partying mentality that had destroyed Thin Lizzy in the first place. And despite the positive press and a triumphant set of showcases at London's Marquee Club that June, record labels were understandably skeptical about taking a chance on a by then well-documented drug casualty. As the tour wound down with a set of Christmas dates back at the Marquee (captured for posterity in the Live Document bootleg), record labels had yet to show any interest, and with their leader's health and behavior becoming increasingly erratic, Grand Slam quietly disintegrated.
Sporadic 1985 appearances (including contributions to a Sandy Denny tribute album; a collaboration with an old partner in crime, guitarist Gary Moore; and even sessions with Huey Lewis & the News, which led to a solo deal) only delayed the inevitable, and Lynott's path of self-destruction finally came to an end on January 4, 1986, when the rock legend lost his battle with heroin at the age of 36. Of small comfort to Lynott fans was the eventual release of numerous Grand Slam demos all of 15 years later, in the shape of 2002's The Studio Sessions, credited to Phil Lynott's Grand Slam.