‘Bad Reputation’: Why Thin Lizzy Were Playing Catch-Up In The US

The band’s eighth studio album hit the US Top 40 and went gold in the UK.

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Thin Lizzy artwork: UMG
Thin Lizzy artwork: UMG

1977 in the world of Thin Lizzy was all about “Dancin’ In The Moonlight” and spreading their Bad Reputation around the world. As the Irish rock heroes climbed the UK charts with that first single (subtitled “It’s Caught Me In Its Spotlight”), the band’s eighth studio LP made its American chart debut — before it was even on the UK bestsellers – on September 24, 1977.

Lizzy were still playing catch-up in the States after the unfortunate events of 1976 when, as they were making great headway with the Jailbreak album and tour, Phil Lynott contracted hepatitis. They had to cancel another tour supporting Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow that would have helped to raise their profile even further.

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Missed transatlantic opportunities

So while Jailbreak reached the US Top 20, the Johnny The Fox set of a few months later only made No.52. Lizzy were on tour in Europe as Bad Reputation emerged, playing at the Reading Festival at the end of August ahead of a huge, 27-date UK tour in November and December.

The recording of the album was marred by the frequent absence of guitarist Brian Robertson. His credits on just three tracks would prove to be his last studio appearances with the band, who appeared on the cover in the three-piece of Lynott, Scott Gorham, and Brian Downey.

“A big reason why Phil and I became such good friends was because we trusted each other,” said Gorham later, as quoted by Classic Rock. “No names, but maybe with some of the other guys, he never quite trusted them. We always tended to agree, musically. Not always on album but definitely on stage. Also, I’ve never been worried about being a big star, so that never came between us either, where maybe it did with some of the other [guitarists].”

Listen to the best of Thin Lizzy on Apple Music and Spotify.

Bad Reputation reached No.4 in the UK, swiftly went gold, and was also a notable success with the band’s Scandinavian following, reaching the Top 10 in Sweden and Top 15 in Norway. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the album matched the 11-week chart run of Johnny The Fox and at least returned Lizzy to the Top 40 of the Billboard LP chart, at No.39. As a reminder of their earlier American fortunes, Jailbreak was then certified gold by the RIAA.

Buy or stream Bad Reputation.

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