The Boys Are Back in Town

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"The Boys Are Back in Town"
1991 Re-release UK 7" single
Single by Thin Lizzy
from the album Jailbreak
B-side"Emerald" or "Jailbreak"
ReleasedApril 1976
Length4:29 (album version)
4:53 (full version)
3:11 (single version)
LabelVertigo (UK)
Mercury (US)
Songwriter(s)Phil Lynott
Producer(s)John Alcock
Thin Lizzy singles chronology
"Wild One"
"The Boys Are Back in Town"

"The Boys Are Back in Town" is a song by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy. The song was originally released in 1976 as the first single from their album Jailbreak. It is considered by Rolling Stone to be the band's best song, placing it at No. 272 on the 2021 edition of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list.[1]

Single release information[edit]

The original 1976 UK single release featured the album track "Emerald" as a B-side, although in some territories "Jailbreak" was chosen. The single was remixed and re-released in several formats in March 1991, after the success of the "Dedication" single, reaching No. 63 in the UK.[2] The 12" EP featured the extra tracks "Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed", "Black Boys on the Corner" and a live version of "Me and the Boys".

There are many theories regarding the inspiration behind "The Boys Are Back in Town", although none has been verified.[3] One theory is that it is about the Quality Street Gang.[4]


"It was 1976 and we were touring America", recalled Scott Gorham. "Jailbreak wasn't shifting and we weren't selling any tickets". The band were surprised to learn from their manager that "The Boys Are Back in Town" was becoming a hit record, especially as the track had not been among the ten songs originally chosen by the band for the album. Gorham attributed the song's unexpected success to two DJs in Louisville, Kentucky who "played it incessantly until other stations in the surrounding area picked up on it… Had that song not kickstarted the sales of the album, then the band was over."[5][6]

It was given 499th position among the 2004 Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[7] though was not included in the 2010 update. However, it re-entered the list in the 2021 update at an even higher position than before at number 272.[1] Rolling Stone praised lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott's "Gaelic soul" and said the "twin-guitar lead by Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson" was "crucial to the song's success".[8] The song is played at most Irish Rugby matches,[9] and has appeared in numerous commercials, most recently in a 2019 ad for Applebee's, television shows, and feature films. In March 2005, Q magazine placed "The Boys Are Back in Town" at No. 38 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.[10] The song won a 1976 NME Award for Best Single.[11]

The song was used on various trailers for the Disney Pixar films Toy Story and Toy Story 2, and Rick and Morty’s 4th season, and is also heard in the 1990 action film Navy SEALs, in the 1999 comedy film Detroit Rock City, and in the 2013 video game Saint's Row IV.

2012 Republican National Convention use[edit]

At the 2012 Republican National Convention, the song was used to introduce then Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan on stage. This unauthorised use of the song caused controversy. Both Lynott's mother, Philomena Lynott, and Thin Lizzy lead guitarist Gorham criticised its use, suggesting that Lynott would not have wanted his music used for any political purpose, including endorsing politicians, and furthermore would likely have objected to the policies of Ryan and his running mate Mitt Romney.[12][13]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[21] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Cover versions[edit]

Happy Mondays version[edit]

A cover version of The Boys Are Back in Town became the last Top 40 single for the Manchester rock band Happy Mondays (featuring vocalist Shaun Ryder and dancer Bez), when it peaked at number 24 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1999.[22][23] According to the band they did not think that their version was a straight cover, but a record "inspired by the Phil Lynott song, but doesn't sound a thing like the original".[24]


  1. ^ a b "500 Best Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 17 September 2021. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b "The Boys Are Back in Town (1991) Record details". Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
  3. ^ Bailie, Stuart – Jailbreak album sleeve notes
  4. ^ "Phil Lynott's mother recalls exciting days in Manchester". Manchester Evening News. 28 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  5. ^ Barton, Geoff, Dome, Malcolm, Kendall, Jo, Ling, Dave: "The night I set Phil Lynott's todger on fire and other stories"; Classic Rock #219, February 2016, p. 55
  6. ^ Ling, Dave (26 March 2016). "Scott Gorham on 40 Years of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak". Classic Rock. Archived from the original on 31 December 2021. Retrieved 31 December 2021.
  7. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (1–500)". Rolling Stone. 9 December 2004. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009.
  8. ^ "News". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 December 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Comic Relief does Fame Academy – Home". BBC. 24 September 2014. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  10. ^ " Magazine Lists". Archived from the original on 13 October 2018. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  11. ^ "1976 – NME". 28 February 1976. Archived from the original on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
  12. ^ McDonald, Henry (3 September 2012). "Phil Lynott's mother objects to Mitt Romney using Thin Lizzy's music". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 July 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Scott Gorham hits out at Mitt Romney's use of 'The Boys Are Back In Town' | Music | News". Hot Press. Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Forum – 1970 (ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts)". Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 4 December 2016.
  15. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (17 July 2013). "Image : RPM Weekly". Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  16. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  17. ^ "Irish Charts – Thin Lizzy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 26, No. 14 & 15, January 08 1977". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Archived from the original on 19 March 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1976/Top 100 Songs of 1976". Archived from the original on 7 March 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles – 1976". Archived from the original on 20 October 2018. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  21. ^ "British single certifications – Thin Lizzy – The Boys Are Back in Town". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  22. ^ "Happy Mondays | full Official Chart History". Archived from the original on 1 May 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.
  23. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 421–422. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
  24. ^ "MONDAYS SKANK YOUR WAY IN MAY". NME. 14 March 1999. Archived from the original on 2 December 2021. Retrieved 7 December 2021.

External links[edit]