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Conwy's Darren Wharton back on tour with Thin Lizzy

Darren Wharton
Darren was born in Manchester but has settled in the Conwy Valley

Conwy Valley musician Darren Wharton reprises his role as Thin Lizzy's keyboard player when the band kick off a UK tour in January.

Plucked from obscurity at 17, Darren has been part of the band on and off since 1979.

Having played in arenas with artists like Bono and the Pogues, he says he is really looking forward to bringing the band to his home gig in Llandudno's Venue Cymru.

"It should be fantastic playing there," said Darren on his return from a band reunion in Los Angeles.

He admits the question he is most often asked is how Thin Lizzy can continue without iconic front man, Phil Lynott, who died in 1986 at the age of 36.

We've got Ricky Warwick singing. He's not trying to copy Phil [Lynott], but there are elements which are similar
Darren Wharton

"We all know in our hearts it's not the same without Phil," he said.

"If we could wish Phil back, we all would because we miss him terribly. But we all love the music. So what do we do - never go out and play the songs ever again?

"It's not the same, but this is the closest it can be with three original members.

"And we've got Ricky Warwick singing. He's not trying to copy Phil, but there are elements which are similar.

"When you've known those songs for as long like we have, they only work in a certain way so we always emulate the original phrasing."

Darren was a young keyboard player in the London clubs when he auditioned for Thin Lizzy. By the time he was 18, he was recording an album with the band in David Bowie's old studios and embarking on a world tour.

"My first time on stage with them was in front of 15,000 people in Norway," he said.

Phil Lynott
Phil Lynnot died in January 1986 after a long battle with alcoholism

"There was a big push for New Wave at the time, and Midge Ure had been in the band. He replaced Gary [Moore] after a big bust-up in America.

"When he had to return to Ultravox, Phil decided that he liked having a keyboard player so looked for a permanent one."

Thin Lizzy took a break in 1984, and following Phil's death did not play together again until 1996.

"We decided to get together for the 10th anniversary of Phil's death and played the Point in Dublin with Bob Geldof, Bono and the Pogues," he said.

"It went so well that we decided to do a European tour.

"But when they decided to continue on a more permanent basis, I pulled out to concentrate on my other band, Dare."

Dare have been a popular attraction in local pubs for years, though their Welsh fans may not be aware of their huge popularity in Scandinavia and Germany.

Mountains and sea

Now back in the studio for a new album with bandmates Richard Dews and Kevin Whitehead, Darren is happy to still do some local gigs.

"We do still play in north Wales, bring out an acoustic guitar and keyboards. I wouldn't like to stop that.

"I grew up in this area because my parents had a caravan over in Dwygyfylchi. We'd always go climbing in the mountains and one day I knew I'd come to live here.

"It's one of the most beautiful, tranquil places in the world and I wouldn't swap it for anywhere else. I do tend to write songs about mountains and the sea a lot."

Thin LIzzy's tour begins on 6 January in Aberdeen and reaches Llandudno on 11 January.

Thin Lizzy's Lynott back in town
20 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland



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