Born in Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland, Ricky got his first guitar at 14. “That old, used guitar changed my life… it saved me, it was more than just notes on a fret board, it was the deepest breath of life I ever experienced. I felt like I was armed when I carried it. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and nothing was ever gonna be the same again once I dragged my thumb across those strings.”
It turned out that Ricky was a natural fit for the well-worn acoustic. It wasn’t long before he was aping Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen records, although it would not be much longer before bands like Stiff Little Fingers, MC5, The Clash and Sex Pistols infiltrated his bedroom. “Those artists gave me a voice”, say Ricky. “When no one would listen to a fourteen year old boy, they gave me something important to say.” The following year, his family relocated to Strathaven, Scotland. Ricky got his first taste of the real world of rock n roll, when he was asked to join UK punk/folk band New Model Army as an additional guitarist on the bands “Ghost Of Cain” album world tour. After leaving New Model Army, the young guitarist went on to found The Almighty in Glasgow, Scotland. The Almighty enjoyed ten Top 40 singles and four Top 20 albums in the UK and shared the stage with such iconic bands as The Ramones, Alice In Chains, Iron Maiden and Metallica over their career.
In 2002, Ricky brazenly embarked on an acoustic solo career and recorded his first release, ‘Tattoos & Alibis’. Recorded in Dublin, Ireland, Ricky collaborated with Peter O’ Toole of Hothouse Flowers and Scott Gorham of Thin Lizzy fame, a meeting that would have great ramifications for Ricky’s future. This album brought about a much different feel than his past efforts with The Almighty, with Ricky drawing from his influences such as Steve Earle, Johnny Cash, Ramones and The Clash. Released in September of 2003 on Sanctuary Records, Tattoos & Alibis was produced by Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott. It seemed as if Ricky has finally found a balance to his art, and was able to mix his influences in powerful story driven songs about his roots, life, loss, redemption and love.
Just a few short years later, Ricky reunites with the Elliott/McHugh production team and releases his much anticipated sophomore effort ‘ Love Many Trust Few’ in 2005 which he co-wrote with Irish singer/songwriter Kieran Goss, famed Nashville writers – Sharon Vaughn (Willie Nelson, Reba McIntire, Oakridge Boys) and Rob Crosby (Martina McBride) as well as Del James (Guns N’ Roses).
Ricky released a limited edition 5 Track EP ‘Love Owes’ on Trust Few Music/Townsend Records in October 2007. The EP features tracks Ricky wrote and recorded while staying in the legendary Harmony Hotel in Twentynine Palms, CA. (This is the place where 20 years earlier U2 had stayed while working on their “Joshua Tree” album.)
Ricky completed his third solo record – ‘Belfast Confetti’ and released it in April 2009 on DR2/Demolition Records. Belfast Confetti is a collection of gritty acoustic rock steeped songs, full of passion, dirt, whiskey and tales of a misspent youth growing up in his native Northern Ireland.
But big things were coming for Ricky. In 2010, Ricky was approached by the management for Ireland’s favourite sons, Thin Lizzy. Scott Gorham was spearheading a reformation of Thin Lizzy and was asking if Ricky was interested in fronting the new lineup. Scott Gorham remembered Ricky from his work on Tattoos & Alibis, “I knew Ricky was the right guy for the job. As soon as we began to discuss who would bring the voice to Lizzy, Ricky was my first call.” The new lineup was complete. Thin Lizzy veterans Brian Downey, Scott Gorham and Darren Wharton were joined by bass player extraordinaire Marco Mendoza, Def Leppard’s string wizard Vivian Campbell and of course, Ricky taking up Phil Lynott’s mantle. “People ask me all the time if it is a difficult thing to fill Phil’s shoes. I always explain to them that filling them can’t be done. All I want to do is deliver the songs with all the heart and passion that they deserve.”
The band kicked things off in January of 2011. From the first show, it was clear to everyone that something magical was happening here. These classic tracks had new life breathed into them and Ricky’s voice added the requisite blue collar feel that makes them come to life. As the tour progressed, audiences all over the world were treated to a show that has received unprecedented critical and fan praise. After more than 150 Thin Lizzy shows under their belts in late 2012 the guys decided that what was needed was a new album to continue the Thin Lizzy legacy. The song writing process began and veteran producer Kevin Shirley was brought on board to handle production. But at the eleventh hour, Scott Gorham voiced some reservations about releasing new material under the Thin Lizzy name. Everyone agreed and unanimously decided to release the material under a new name. Hence, Black Star Riders was born releasing their much acclaimed debut ‘All Hell Breaks Loose’ in April 2013.
March of 2015 saw the release of the quintet’s second album, ‘The Killer Instinct’. Debuting at #13 in the UK national charts, the singles “The Killer Instinct” and “Finest Hour” have both made major impacts in radio in the UK and in parts of Europe. The band continues to tour the world and bring their unique sound to stages everywhere. The best is yet to come!
Ricky has always been a driven performer and whilst Black Star Riders is his main priority he also found time to mine his creative soul and created two new solo records . Ricky explains, “While we were working on the new BSR album, I just got into a very productive song writing zone. The songs just kept coming and coming”. Ricky writes songs in a number of styles and many of these tracks would not be at home on a Black Star Riders album. So, he decided to record and release these albums as solo projects.
The results are the beautiful acoustic album ‘Hearts on Trees’ and the more hard-rock centred ‘When Patsy Cline Was Crazy (And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues)’ which will be released as a double album by Nuclear Blast.
Ricky comments “Hearts On Trees” and “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blues” were written by myself and my good friend Sam Robinson, both albums depict our experiences of growing up and coming from the Greater East Belfast area, not only experiences that have happenend to us but historical references and stories that have been told to us by friends and family…in saying that both albums translate those experiences on to a global scale that hopefully anyone geographically can relate to.”
The release also boasts an array of acclaimed musicians with guests such as; Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) Damon Johnson (Thin Lizzy/Black Star Riders) Andy Cairns(Therapy?) Billy Morrison (Billy Idol) Nathan Connolly (Snow Patrol) Ginger Wildheart, Jake Burns (Stiff Little Fingers) Richard Fortus (Guns ‘N’ Roses/Dead Daisies) and Mark Thwaite (The Mission)
Ricky put together a full band to bring these great songs to fruition on the stage contacting some of the amazing musicians he has befriended over the years and virtually overnight The Fighting Hearts were born. To kick things off, Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts will be supporting Belfast’s own favourite sons, Stiff Little Fingers on their UK tour in Feb/March of 2016.
Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts are:
Ricky Warwick – Vocals & Guitars – (The Almighty, Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders)
Robbie Crane – Bass (Ratt, Black Star Riders)
Mark Thwaite – Guitars (The Mission)
Gary Sullivan – Drums ((sic))
The album is currently available to pre-order on a number of formats, below:
CD + Standard Vinyl (includes a limited hand signed insert!) here.
Limited Edition Vinyl – here.
iTunes – here.
For more information on Ricky Warwick & The Fighting Hearts, just click this link.