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Brian Robertson
Also known as "Robbo"
Born 12 February 1956 (1956-02-12) (age 53)
Clarkston, Scotland
Genres Heavy metal, hard rock
Occupations Guitarist, songwriter
Instruments Guitar, vocals, keyboards, cello, drums
Years active 1974 – present
Associated acts Thin Lizzy, Motörhead, Wild Horses, The Bitter Twins
Notable instruments
Gibson Les Paul

Brian "Robbo" Robertson (born 12 February 1956, Clarkston, Renfrewshire) is a Scottish guitarist,[1] best known for his work with Thin Lizzy and Motörhead.


Early life

Robertson was born in Clarkston, Renfrewshire (now part of East Renfrewshire), where he was educated, attending Eastwood High School and became a musician.[2] He studied cello and classical piano for eight years before switching to the guitar and drums. He played in gigs around his local area with bands like Dream Police, who later evolved into the Average White Band.


In June 1974, Thin Lizzy were auditioning for a new guitarist and a try-out for Robertson was arranged. Aged 18, Robertson was taken on along with Scott Gorham on the other lead guitar. During his time in the band, Thin Lizzy released albums such as Nightlife, Fighting, Jailbreak, Johnny the Fox, Bad Reputation and Live and Dangerous. In Thin Lizzy, the unique twin, harmony lead guitar sound, provided by Robertson and Gorham, contributed much to the distinctive sound of the band and influenced subsequent bands, such as Iron Maiden, Metallica and The Darkness. Robertson's unconventional use of the wah-pedal as an extension of the instrument during soloing rather than as a purely rhythmic effect, as described in the Total Accuracy video "Still in Love with Blues" (featuring Brian Robertson), is generally regarded as a pioneering, perhaps unique use of the effect. The video includes Robertson's explanation of his approach to guitar playing, along with a mixture of Thin Lizzy lead solos and blues licks. In 1978 Robertson finally left the band for good, after reportedly being fired twice; he was replaced by guitarist Gary Moore, whom he had replaced in 1974.

Following his dismissal, Robertson formed Wild Horses along with another outcast, ex-Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain. Achieving only partial success in the UK, the band split up after releasing two albums, 1980's the First Album and 1981's Stand Your Ground. In 1980 Robertson was featured on the Eric Burdon album Darkness Darkness. Robertson appeared on stage for a night during Thin Lizzy's final tour in 1983, alongside most of their former guitarists.

After this brief appearance with Thin Lizzy he was invited to replace Motörhead's "Fast" Eddie Clarke, who had left the band during their U.S. tour. After five days rehearsing, he appeared with them on 21 May 1982, at Harpo's in Detroit. He appeared with the band on the King Biscuit Flower Hour and recorded the Another Perfect Day album with them, staying until 1983; his last gig with them was at the Metropol, Berlin on 11 November that year.[3] After this time, he joined Statetrooper, and this lasted until their break-up. Robertson later made a guest appearance with the band Ash at the Oxegen music festival in Ireland, 2004, playing guitar on the song "The Boys Are Back in Town".

In August 2005 Robertson was reunited with his old Lizzy band mates, under the leadership of Gary Moore, for a tribute show in memory of Phil Lynott. Robertson and Moore played along with Lizzies Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Eric Bell and Jethro Tull bassist Jonathan Noyce on a number of Thin Lizzy songs.

As of February 2008, Robertson has returned to the studio and has been working on new material.[4] He also made a guest appearances on The Bitter Twins debut album Global Panic!, which was released in 2009.

Robertson currently lives in London, England when he is not on tour or recording in Scandinavia where he spends a lot of his working time.


Robertson's influences include Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Peter Green. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons is also mentioned as a later influence.[5]


Robertson is often associated with the Black 1973 Les Paul Custom, with white/parchment (rather than black) coloured pick guard, featured in photographs on the Live and Dangerous album and subsequent video. However, in an interview Robertson explained that his main guitar remains his original Thin Lizzy Sunburst Les Paul Deluxe, albeit re-fretted (from wear) and with 1959 vintage Gibson Seth Lover PAF humbucker pickups fitted roughly by his guitar technician. The pickups are sans the normal German-silver pick-up covers, a popular modification. Other guitars seen played by Robertson include a white Fender Stratocaster (Dedication video), 1970's Travis Bean aluminium neck guitar (Dedication video), red Les Paul with trapeze bridge and soap bar pick ups [cover of the "Still in Love with You" video]. At the time of Scott Gorham's Thin Lizzy audition, Robertson was playing an SG Junior.[1]

Although strongly associated with British Marshall amplifiers (100 watt non-Master Volume Superlead heads and 25W Celestion Greenback speakers), Robertson has been known to use Mesa Boogie (100W Dual Rectifier head) and Soundman amplifiers. The Jailbreak album was recorded using Carlsbro combo. Robertson's original wah-pedal is a UK made Colorsound (rather than the CryBaby or Vox, which were more expensive at the time), although he sometimes used a Cry Baby wah wah in the 1990s and a borrowed Vox Wah in the "Still in Love with Blues" video.[6]

Robertson's use of the WEM Copycat tape echo unit was later replaced by a modern rack mounted digital delay unit. He used a Black Les Paul custom and mentions he experimented with "Boss Analog Chorus Delay, an MXR Pitch Transposer, Yamaha analog delays, and MXR 32 band Graphic EQ" during his Motörhead days.[5]

Record producer Tony Visconti mentioned that for "Killer Without A Cause":

... Robertson plays guitar through the strange talk box, the simple gizmo that Peter Frampton made famous on his successful live album."[7]


With Thin Lizzy
With Wild Horses
With Motörhead
With The Bitter Twins
  • Global Panic! (2009)
Interviews on DVD's
  • Gary Moore And Friends: One Night In Dublin, A Tribute To Phil Lynott (2005)
  • Motorhead Videobiography - double DVD (2007)
  • Motorhead Overkill - double DVD (2008)


  1. ^ a b Byrne, Alan Thin Lizzy, Soldiers of Fortune, Firefly Publishing, November 2005 pp. 51 & 56 ISBN 0-946719-81-0
  2. ^ Eastwood High School Achievers
  3. ^ Burridge, Alan and Stevenson, Mick The Illustrated Collector's Guide to Motörhead Collector's Guide Publishing, 1994 pp. 17 & 40-43, ISBN 0-9695736-2-6
  4. ^ "Former Thin Lizzy Guitarist Brian Robertson Back In The Studio". komodorock article. Retrieved 2008-02-13.  
  5. ^ a b "Brian Robertson". Dinosaur Rock Guitar article. Retrieved 2007-04-03.  
  6. ^ "The guitar and bass rig database record for Brian Robertson in Thin Lizzy in 1974.". Guitar Geek article. Retrieved 2007-04-03.  
  7. ^ "Thin Lizzy Bad Reputation". Tony Visconti article. Retrieved 2007-04-03.  

External links



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