Revealed At Last: Lizzy’s Real Dino’s Bar & Grill
What was the inspiration behind Dino’s Bar & Grill, the legendary drinking emporium namechecked in the Thin Lizzy classic The Boys Are Back In Town? Was Dino’s a real bar, perhaps located in Dublin where late Lizzy leader Phil Lynott grew up? Or was Dino’s just a figurative figment of Lynott’s poetic imagination?
When David Jarvis talked to Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham recently, the truth was finally revealed…
Thin Lizzy legend Phil Lynott created one of rock’s most enduring myths when he sang about Dino’s Bar & Grill in The Boys Are Back In Town.
The driving homage to male bonding is regularly named as an all-time rock classic and the unknown location of Dino’s has entered rock folklore.
Lynott, who died in 1986 aged just 36, never publicly revealed the inspiration behind the verse which Bob Dylan once said was the finest lyric ever written in the rock genre.
Was the drinking den in the back streets of Dublin where Lynott grew up or was it in Manchester where later he was a regular visitor to his mother’s hotel and its late night bar frequented by his pals George Best and snooker champion Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins?
Many believed he had simply invented the bar but others were certain it had to be a real place.
The truth when it emerged last week turned out to be even more fascinating than the speculation and typical of Lynott’s confessional song-writing style in which he mixed Americana with Celtic myth.
Dino’s was not in Dublin or Manchester but was the former restaurant of that other showbiz legend Dean Martin at 77 Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, the location of the 1960s hit TV series of the same name starring Efrem Zimbalist Junior.
Former Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham, 58, revealed the truth behind the song last week just weeks after what would have been Lynott’s 60th birthday.
He said: “It was our first tour of America in 1974 and we were supporting Bachman-Turner Overdrive. At the time nobody knew who we were.
“Phil and the rest of the band had never been to the States before and kept going on about 77 Sunset Strip because they remembered the show as kids.
“Phil loved the show and the hip language and wanted to take a look for himself where it was made.
“What he found was an convenience store and right next door was Dino’s.
“He was in love with America and just loved the sound of that name Dino’s.
“He was just 25 years old at the time it conjured up a world of gangsters and mafia types to him.
“He turned it into Dino’s Bar & Grill and wrote one of our biggest ever hits.
“Of course, Phil was also a huge Manchester United fan and while the bar may have been in LA ‘the boys’ definitely included his Man Utd mates including George Best and his pals who used to go drinking on Friday nights at the bar in his mum’s hotel.”
Lynott, who died from pneumonia and heart failure after battling heroin addiction, was regarded as one of the best song writers of his generation.
Classic albums like Jailbreak and Live & Dangerous projected Thin Lizzy to stardom but drug abuse resulted in the break up of the band in the early 80s before Lynott’s tragic death.
Classic Rock‘s Mick Wall, a former friend of Lynott’s, added: “I just knew there had to be a twist in the story. There always was with Phil.
“Phil didn’t just write songs, he told wonderful stories, which is what set him apart.
“And how appropriate that Dean Martin is a part of the story.
“They both shared a certain louche charm. Dean had the Rat Pack and Phil had Lizzy which back in those days was as much a gang as a group.
“But I think it’s fair to say that while he was inspired by Dino’s, the emotion of the song is very much connected with his mother’s hotel and the late night bar where George Best and Alex Higgins would get drunk with Phil and the rest of the band.”
– David Jarvis
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The Boys Are Back in Town
Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven’t changed, haven’t much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy
They were asking if you were around
How you was, where you could be found
Told ‘em you were living downtown
Driving all the old men crazy
The boys are back in town
You know that chick that used to dance a lot
Every night she’d be on the floor shaking what she’d got
Man when I tell you she was cool, she was red hot
I mean she was steaming
And that time over at Johnny’s place
Well this chick got up and she slapped Johnny’s face
Man we just fell about the place
If that chick don’t want to know, forget her
The boys are back in town
Friday night they’ll be dressed to kill
Down at Dinos Bar and Grill
Drink will flow and blood will spill
And if the boys want to fight, you’d better let ‘em
That jukebox in the corner blasting out my favourite song
These nights are getting warmer and it won’t be long
It won’t be long ‘til summer comes
Now that the boys are here again
The boys are back in town