In Thin Lizzy’s memorable year of 1976, one of the many highlights was their American chart debut. In May of that year, they embarked on a US tour supporting Bachman-Turner Overdrive that, by all accounts, wowed audiences everywhere. With the ‘Jailbreak’ album already climbing the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, the May 15 edition of Billboard had more good news, as ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ entered the Hot 100.
The memorable story song thus made the American bestsellers two weeks before it even hit the UK charts, on its way to becoming one of the most-loved rock hits of the year. Its American breakout started on KSAN in San Francisco, after which airplay spread coast to coast. But Lizzy’s opportunity to maximise their impact there was scuppered when Phil Lynott contracted hepatitis, leading to the cancellation of another crucial tour supporting Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow.
‘The Boys’ reached No. 8 in Britain in early July, while in the US, where the Hot 100 traditionally moved more slowly, the track eventually landed at No. 12 later that month. It was Thin Lizzy’s first US singes chart appearance and their only major single there: ‘Cowboy Song,’ which reached No. 77 a few months later, would be their only other showing.
Nevertheless, ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ helped ‘Jailbreak’ to become a substantial American success in its own right. It reached No. 18 in a 28-week run and was certified gold, their only RIAA recognition in the US. Back in the UK, the album was on the chart for almost a year.