Brian Michael Downey (bornJanuary 27, 1951 , in Dublin, Ireland) is an Irish drummer, best known as the drummer and a founding member of the rock band Thin Lizzy. Along with Phil Lynott, Downey was the only constant member of the pioneering hard rock group until their break-up in 1983. Downey also co-wrote several Thin Lizzy songs. Allmusic critic Eduardo Rivadavia has argued that Downey is "certainly one of the most underrated (rock drummers) of his generation".
Growing up in Crumlin, Dublin, Brian's early musical influences came from his father who played in a local pipe band and loved jazz, and also from his 60's heroes: The Kinks, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In his youth, Downey met friend, co-founder and bass guitarist Phil Lynott, who attended the same school. Before forming Thin Lizzy, Downey had been in numerous school bands, beginning with The Liffey Beats, Mod Con Cave Dwellers, and briefly The Black Eagles (with Lynott). He moved on to performing in a local band, Sugar Shack, and then was persuaded by Lynott to join him in another band, Orphanage. Upon meeting guitarist Eric Bell, the trio formed Thin Lizzy. Although the line-up of musicians within the band changed over the years, with the exception of Lynott, for the next thirteen years Downey remained the only other permanent member of the band, as well as drumming on Lynott's solo albums.
After Lynott's death in 1986, Downey played in the tribute Thin Lizzy line-up with John Sykes, Scott Gorham, Darren Wharton and Marco Mendoza, but had been absent from subsequent Thin Lizzy touring bands. After John Sykes' departure from the group in 2009, guitarist Scott Gorham created another line-up of Thin Lizzy. Downey, Mendoza and Wharton rejoined, along with two new members: Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell and former vocalist from The Almighty, Ricky Warwick. This version of Thin Lizzy started an extensive world tour in January 2010 and continued to tour until early 2013, with new permanent guitarist Damon Johnson eventually replacing Richard Fortus. Gorham had stated that the band members were considering recording new material, and this project eventually emerged under the Black Star Riders name, with which Downey chose not to be involved due to the pressures of consistent touring. Thin Lizzy will continue to perform occasionally, with Downey possibly returning for those shows.
Downey was a guest at the unveiling of Lynott's statue in 2005, and drummed for Gary Moore at the tribute concert that followed. Downey also appeared on Moore's 2007 album, Close As You Get, and subsequent tour. In November 2008 he left Moore's band to pursue a different musical project. Currently Brian plays drums with The Dave McHugh Band. His top notch Blues drumming in this band shows Brian returning to his musical roots.