Eric Wrixon, who was part of the forming of both Them and Thin Lizzy, died on Monday in Italy at the age of 68. There are no details available on the cause of death.
Although he helped in assembling both groups, he had left before either found success. In April 1964, Van Morrison opened an R&B club in a Belfast hotel and formed a band to play in the new enterprise. Wrixon, who was still in school at the time, was brought in as the piano player and it was his idea to name the group Them after the 50’s sci-fi film.
Still being a minor, Wrixon had to have his parents sign any legal documents and, when his mother and father refused to sign a recording contract, he was dropped from the group and replaced by Pat John McAuley.
Wrixon next co-founded the Belfast R&B group The People whose recording output was limited to two tracks on the compilation Ireland’s Greatest Sounds: Five Top Groups From Belfast’s Maritime Club, but he soon quit to join The Wheels.
Over the next three years, Wrixon played in a number of bands both in Ireland and Germany and, in 1969, met guitarist Eric Bell in a Dublin bar. The two found they had a similar taste in music and were both interested in forming a group. By the end of the evening, they found themselves at a different club seeing Orphanage which featured Phil Lynott and Brian Downey. The four talked and agreed to form a new band with the understanding that they would perform some of Lynott’s compositions.
The new band went into the studio and recorded their debut single The Farmer / I Need You but, before the single was released, Wrixon found he was out of living funds and quit the band to return to Germany.
Wrixon twice tried to revive Them, first in 1979 where they recorded the album Shut Your Mouth, and again in 1993 as Them: The Belfast Blues Band. The second band lasted for a number of years, recording one studio and one live album.
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