Founder member of Thin Lizzy,
Eric Bell has kindly allowed us to share this text:
I was born
in East Belfast on the 3rd of September 1947. The first time I fell in
love with music was around 8 years old, listening to classical music
on a big wireless - it was great to daydream to. One Christmas, when I
was 14 or so, one of my presents was a plastic guitar - it was totally
It was small, half size, had six different coloured
strings, and pretty good frets. There was a TV programme on in those
days, and one of the regulars on it was Bert Weedon, a very well known
guitarist. Every week, he would draw a guitar chord on a blackboard,
and explain how to play it. I would watch and learn a new chord each
week. The next major thing to form my interest in music was hearing,
and then seeing Lonnie Donegan.
A friend of mine at school, Davie Lyttle, had lots
of Lonnie's records, and I would go back to his house after school to
listen to them-they were magic and I never tired listening to them,
even to this day. The other major influence was The Shadows, who also
cast their spell on me.
I was still going to Orangefield Boy's Secondary
School, and one lunch break found out one of the guys in my class
played drums in a Shadows-type group. Eventually I was invited up to
the house where they rehearsed. Their guitarist let me play his guitar
- the very first time I had ever played an electric. A week later, the
group asked me to be their lead guitarist!
I stayed for six months, then joined another group,
then another, until an offer to join an Irish Showband (The Bluebeats)
came my way. The only reason I joined was they were professional. I
said goodbye to the shirt factory where I worked, and went to live in
Glascow where The Bluebeats were based. After
a year and a few months later, we returned to Belfast, and went our
separate ways. I joined The Shannon Showband. Four months later and
this time I had to live in Headingly, Leeds. We played working men's
clubs, Irish Ballrooms, and some Irish pubs. It all fizzled out after
a year and a half, and I went back to Belfast. I joined a blues group
called Shades of Blue after their guitarist had left. A young man
called Gary Moore.
Through Shades of Blue, I met John Farrell, a singer
from a Dublin group called The Movement. John was going to be the
singer with a new young modern Irish Showband called The Dreams. He
said I should go to Dublin and audition for the guitar slot. I took
the chance and got it.
After a year and a few months, I left The Dreams and decided to form a
group. I called it Thin Lizzy.
by Eric Bell © 2008