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Only 18 years old when he joined Thin Lizzy, guitarist Brian Robertson was part of the group's twin guitar tandem (along with Scott Gorham) that helped establish Lizzy as one of the world's top rock acts in the '70s. Born in 1956 in Glasgow, Scotland, Robertson spent eight years learning classical piano as a youngster before switching over to the guitar. Just as he entered his teenage years, Robertson began playing in several different local Glasgow bands (one of which, Dream Police, would later evolve into the Average White Band). Lizzy was auditioning for a new guitarist in June of 1974, and a try-out was eventually set up for Robertson, after a mutual friend of the six-stringer who happened to also be a roadie for Lizzy gave him the heads up. With the try-out being in London, Robertson left Glasgow with little money in his pocket and just his guitar and a pair of drumsticks, figuring that if he didn't land the gig, perhaps he could try out for a drumming position in another band. But Robertson didn't have to worry for long, as he got the gig with Lizzy. Soon after he joined, Lizzy welcomed another guitarist, Gorham, into the fold as well, which would lead to the duo developing what would become one of Lizzy's musical trademarks, twin guitar harmonies, which would be copied by numerous future groups (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, etc.). To finetune their sound even further, both guitarists also played the same guitar make/model, Gibson Les Pauls.
Led by bassist/singer/poet Phil Lynott, the Robertson-Gorham version of the group would become its most popular among fans, but it took the new lineup a couple of releases to become acclimated to one another (1974's Nightlife and 1975's Fighting). By 1976, Lizzy had solidified their style and approach, as the group scored a breakthrough hit with "The Boys Are Back in Town," and a gold-certified album, Jailbreak. With the band's second new album of 1976 in the stores (Johnny the Fox), Lizzy landed a tour of U.S. arenas opening up for Queen. But on the eve of the tour's launch, Robertson was involved in a barroom brawl, in which a bottle cut through the nerve and artery of one of his hands. Obviously unable to play, Robertson's future with Lizzy was suddenly thrust into doubt, as Gary Moore assumed Robertson's role on-stage for the upcoming Queen tour.
But when the tour was completed, Robertson was asked to rejoin Lizzy on a temporary basis to lay down tracks for their next studio album, 1977's Bad Reputation. Despite Robertson's face being purposely omitted from the album's cover, he was eventually welcomed back to the group as a full-fledged member. The guitar talents of Robertson can best be sampled on Lizzy's stellar 1978 in-concert set, Live and Dangerous, especially on the slow-burning blues of "Still in Love with You," and his guitar dog fight with Gorham, "Emerald." Although Lizzy was enjoying massive worldwide success, relations between Robertson and the rest of Lizzy had deteriorated, which led to his final ousting from the group in mid-1978 (once more, he was replaced by Gary Moore). Up next for Robertson was a group called Wild Horses, which included bassist Jimmy Bain, who had also been ostracized from a big name band (Rainbow). Although Wild Horses enjoyed some moderate success in the U.K. initially, the group petered out after just a pair of forgotten releases, 1980's The First Album and 1981's Stand Your Ground.
Once more, Robertson didn't have to wait long for his next gig to come up. Motörhead (who was enjoying the biggest commercial success of their career) had just departed with longtime guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke, and invited Robertson to come on board. Although the move appeared to work on paper, it didn't on record, as the Robertson-version of Motörhead only lasted for a single studio album, 1983's Another Perfect Day. Longtime Motörhead fans refused to accept Robertson (who stuck out like a sore thumb on-stage, as he'd cut his hair short, and modeled such ill-advised '80s-era fashion as a headband and leg warmers), and the guitarist was sent packing once the album's supporting tour wrapped up. A live set from this short-lived version of Motörhead was issued years later, 1997's King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Motörhead.
Robertson rejoined Lizzy on-stage for a night during the group's final tour in 1983 (along with most of the group's other guitarists past and present), which was documented on double-disc set the same year, entitled Life Live. Little was heard from Robertson subsequently in the '80s, during which time a rumored Lizzy reunion featuring the Live and Dangerous lineup proved to be false (and would ultimately never come to pass, as frontman Lynott passed away in January of 1986). Robertson magically reappeared during the '90s, however, as he recorded a few albums with Swedish rockers Lotus (Quartet Conspiracy and A Taster for the Big One, and in 1995, issued his first-ever solo release, the six-track EP The Clan. Over the years, Robertson has also guested on other artists' recordings, including Pat Travers' Making Magic, Roy Sundholm's The Chinese Method, Frankie Miller's Dancing in the Rain, and such Graham Parker overviews as Passion Is No Ordinary Word: The Graham Parker Anthology 1976-1991 and Ultimate Collection.
Brian David "Robbo" Robertson (born 12 February 1956) is a Scottish rock guitarist, best known as a member of 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. 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 17, Robertson was taken on along with Scott Gorham on the other lead guitar. The two lead guitarists provided a critical part of Thin Lizzy's signature sound, referred to by critics as their "twin guitar attack". During his time in the band, Robertson was a contributing member to five studio albums released by Thin Lizzy: Nightlife (1974), Fighting (1975), Jailbreak (1976), Johnny the Fox (1976), Bad Reputation (1977) and a live album Live and Dangerous (1978).
Although frontman, bassist/lead vocalist Phil Lynott was the primary songwriter for Thin Lizzy's material, Robertson contributed a substantial share of songwriting for the band, sometimes collaborating with Lynott and the band. Bad Reputation was the only record that did not feature his song writing and he performed only on selected tracks from this album.
In Thin Lizzy, the unique twin harmony lead guitar sound instigated 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 pioneering, unconventional use of the wah-wah pedal as an extension of the instrument during soloing rather than as a purely rhythmic effect provided a boost to the band as well. In 1978 Robertson finally left the band and was replaced by guitarist Gary Moore, whom he had replaced in 1974.
Robertson formed Wild Horses along with Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain. Achieving only partial success in the UK, the band split up after releasing two albums, Wild Horses (1980) and Stand Your Ground (1981). In 1980 Robertson was featured on the Eric Burdon album Darkness Darkness. Robertson appeared for one performance of Thin Lizzy's final tour in 1983, alongside other former guitarists. In 1986 he recorded a cover of "Still in Love with You" as a tribute to Phil Lynott, appearing alongside Bobby Tench.
Robertson joined Motörhead in late 1982, replacing "Fast" Eddie Clarke. He recorded the band's King Biscuit Flower Hour sessions, remaining to record the 1983 album Another Perfect Day. His last appearance with Motörhead was at the Metropol in Berlin, on 11 November 1983. His resistance to playing "classic" Motörhead songs, coupled with a playing style which did not fit well with Motörhead's aggressive style of music, resulted in his decision to move on. He then joined Gary Barden's band Statetrooper until they disbanded.
In 2004 Robertson made a guest appearance with the band Ash at the Oxegen music festival in Ireland, playing guitar on their version of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town". He was reunited with Lizzy band mates in August 2005 for a tribute show in memory of Phil Lynott, in a line fronted by Gary Moore. Robertson and Moore appeared with Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Eric Bell and Jethro Tull bassist Jonathan Noyce.
During February 2008 Robertson returned to the studio to work on new material. He also made a guest appearances on The Bitter Twins debut album Global Panic!, which was released in 2009.
His first solo album Diamonds and Dirt, featuring Ian Haugland of the band Europe, Nalle Pahlsson from Treat, Leif Sundin from MSG and Liny Wood, was recorded in Stockholm at Polar Studios over a two-year period. It was produced by Robertson, Soren Lindberg and Chris Laney. The album features thirteen songs, written by Robertson and others including Phil Lynott, Frankie Miller and Jim White. It was released in Europe through Steamhammer Records in March 2011.
Robertson lives in Essex, England when he is not on tour or recording in Scandinavia, where he spends a lot of his working time.
Like many British rock guitarists, Brian Robertson was significantly influenced by earlier blues guitarists. 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.
Robertson is often associated with the Black 1960 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 1973 Les Paul Deluxe, albeit re-fretted (due to wear) and with 1959 vintage Gibson Seth Lover PAF humbucker pickups fitted roughly by his guitar technician. The pickups are without the normal German-silver pick-up covers, a popular modification.
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 a 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 (which he cut the rubber feet off, to the dismay of host Stuart Bull).
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.
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."
Guitar Rig & Signal Flow 
A detailed gear diagram of Brian Robertson's 1974 Thin Lizzy guitar rig is well-documented.