Why Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy supergroup didn’t take off
Not good enough: Phil Lynott
Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy supergroup Baby Face went nowhere because Phil Lynott wasn’t a good enough bass player, says drummer Ian Paice.
He and Lynott formed the band with Ritchie Blackmore in 1972 and got as far as a brief rehearsal session before the idea was abandoned.
Paice and Purple tour manager Colin Hart tell the story in Classic Rock Magazine No.176, on sale now.
Blackmore and Paice approached Lynott with the idea of forming a band that would let them flex their muscles outside their increasingly strained confines of Deep Purple. Lynott had come to the guitarist‘s attention after he heared Lizzy’s self-titled 1971 debut album.
“Ritchie used to love his singing,” says Hart. “Kind of like a young rod Stewart or Paul Rodgers.”
With Thin Lizzy yet to make a breakthrough, Lynott took Blackmore and Paice up on their offer. Settling on the name Baby Face, the guitarist instructed Hart to arrange an impromptu session.
“They did a couple of covers,” says Hart, who was in the studio with them. “It was only a short session, two or three songs, then it was out with the equipment and off home. I don’t think they did anything original. It did sound great together, the three of them.”
Paice recalls: “It was meant to be a free-flowing kind of thing. It never got off the ground mainly because Phil wasn’t really a good enough bassist yet.
“He had the voice, but learning to play bass well takes time. And for a thing like that to work, all three players need to be at a certain level. Phil just wasn’t there yet.”
The name Baby Face would end up being used as a title on Lizzy’s next album, and the Irish band would record a Deep Purple tribute album in 1972 under the name Funky Junction, with vocals provided by Benny White of Irish group Elmer Fudd.
But, for a brief moment, the prospect of an early-70s supergroup was tantalisingly close.
“Phil was bowled over by Blackmore,” Lizzy drummer Brian Downey later said. “That was the first time I’d ever seen him hesitate about anything.”
Deep Purple’s classic 1972 album Machine Head is set for a 40th anniversary re-release in five-disc deluxe format. Meanwhile, bands including Metallica and Iron Maiden have contributed tracks to Re-Machined, the band’s official tribute album. It’s available with exclusive bonus track in a Classic Rock Fan Pack. Read the full Deep Purple feature in Classic Rock 176, on sale now. Get it on your iPad and iPhone here: http://goo.gl/z4Yhu (in the UK) or here http://goo.gl/YUnR9 (for the US).