Wednesday, October 10, 2012

BABY FACE: THE STORY OF A FAILED SUPERGROUP IN 1972

Phil Lynott
Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy supergroup Baby Face went nowhere because Phil Lynott wasn’t a good enough bass player, says drummer Ian Paice.

He and Lynott formed the band with Ritchie Blackmore in 1972 and got as far as a brief rehearsal session before the idea was abandoned.

Blackmore and Paice approached Lynott with the idea of forming a band that would let them flex their muscles outside their increasingly strained confines of Deep Purple. Lynott had come to the guitarist‘s attention after he heared Lizzy’s self-titled 1971 debut album.

“Ritchie used to love his singing,” says Hart. “Kind of like a young rod Stewart or Paul Rodgers.”

With Thin Lizzy yet to make a breakthrough, Lynott took Blackmore and Paice up on their offer. Settling on the name Baby Face, the guitarist instructed Hart to arrange an impromptu session.

“They did a couple of covers,” says Hart, who was in the studio with them. “It was only a short session, two or three songs, then it was out with the equipment and off home. I don’t think they did anything original. It did sound great together, the three of them.”

Paice recalls: “It was meant to be a free-flowing kind of thing. It never got off the ground mainly because Phil wasn’t really a good enough bassist yet.

“He had the voice, but learning to play bass well takes time. And for a thing like that to work, all three players need to be at a certain level. Phil just wasn’t there yet.”

The name Baby Face would end up being used as a title on Lizzy’s next album, and the Irish band would record a Deep Purple tribute album in 1972 under the name Funky Junction, with vocals provided by Benny White of Irish group Elmer Fudd.

But, for a brief moment, the prospect of an early-70s supergroup was tantalisingly close.

“Phil was bowled over by Blackmore,” Lizzy drummer Brian Downey later said. “That was the first time I’d ever seen him hesitate about anything.”

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