Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham: New Interview


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Sep 7, 2007
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Interview with Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham

Nov 30 2007

Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham is speaking of fallen friends. "We play as if he's never gone away. Every night on stage, we introduce him as though he's still here - and he still gets the biggest cheer of the night.

"So the b------d is still overshadowing me."

A good-natured guffaw follows down the phone. He is, of course, talking about Lizzy's former front man, bass player and vocalist Phil Lynott, the charismatic black Irishman who died at just 36 after fighting a losing battle against hard drugs abuse 21 years ago.

Lynott's legend lives on in spirit - but, in reality, so does the band, and mighty fine they are, too, as anyone who witnessed the wild scenes the last time the reformed Lizzy played Liverpool University a couple of years ago will concur.

They're back again next week and Gorham, speaking midway through their current British tour, is confident that it'll be every bit as good - if not better. And, despite being the only member of the band remaining in the line-up from their classic Jailbreak days of the mid-70s, he is adamant that this is still the real deal and no cash-in con job.

"It re-started with just seven shows in Japan in 1994 and then there were all these world tours which followed and we wondered what the hell happened," says the Santa Monica-born axeman who has lived in London for 23 years, but still has a Californian drawl that's as long and lazy as ever. "But there was nothing premeditated or grab-a-buck about it: the whole thing snowballed and we've been rolling with it ever since."

He fervently believes that, if his old mucker Lynott had overcome his problems, he would have been heartily behind the whole resurrection project.

As Gorham had previously told this Daily Post writer, in the early '80s it was Lynott who persuaded him to go on one last world tour, despite Scott being racked by the rigours of sustained drug abuse which had subsequently turned his own guitar playing, as he described it, "into a bag of s---".

They finally split up in the summer of '84, after the previous year's sub-standard Thunder and Lightning album.

Gorham chose the opportunity to jump off the rock 'n' roll drugs roundabout and tried to persuade his friend to do the same. The die was cast, however, and Phil passed away in 1986 from heart failure and pneumonia following a massive drugs overdose.

"But, if he'd have got through it all," exclaims Scott today, "it was him who would have been the very first to have made that phone call and been dragging my ass back out on the road!"

Lizzy fans will be especially delighted that for the first time since their reformation they'll be replaying the whole of the set from the 1977/78 Live and Dangerous tour. This spawned what is still widely acknowledged as one of the greatest live rock albums of all, right up there with other candidates such as Lou Reed's Rock 'n' Roll Animal, and Jerry Lee Lewis At The Star Club in Hamburg.

A double-album masterpiece of non-stop power recorded at London's Hammersmith Odeon, Gorham knew of its continued high regard because of polls taken in all the top rock magazines, but didn't think of performing it until they had to re-evaluate their plans when the reformed Queensryche unexpectedly pulled out as support for the current tour.

"We were not aware that it was the Live and Dangerous 30th anniversary until a couple of months ago. We were going to play the set at just the Hammersmith gig, but then Queensryche fell through and we thought why not do it for the whole tour? This album meant too much not only to us as a band but our fans as well, to let the anniversary pass without celebrating it in some way."

Lynott's vocal replacement since the band's reformation of the mid- 90s has been John Sykes, who plays dual lead guitar with Gorham instead of bass. That part of Lynott's former role has been filled by Francesco DiCosmo, with Tommy Aldridge on drums.

Together they will recreate the set which they hope will sound even better than the original album.

Just quite how, Scott explains: "On the album, some of the tracks are not in same order as they were played at the actual concert so you have Dancing In The Moonlight followed by Massacre which doesn't sound right at all."

It will also mean the inclusion of three additional favourites Warrior, Southbound and The Rocker, slotted in between all the other gems such as The Boys Are Back In Town, Don't Believe A Word and The Cowboy Song.

After Liverpool and the climactic gig at Hammersmith, 40 shows have been slotted in for a full US tour followed by trips into the unknown.

"We wanna play the places that Lizzy never went to before - South America, Russia, the former Iron Curtain countries, so there are no thoughts of ending it all just yet. Besides, we're all great buddies and the key to being great buddies on the road is to allow each other space when it's needed, especially when you're in close proximity to each other 24 hours a day."

Gorham's only bugbear on these jaunts is the world-wide security clampdown in the aftermath of 9/11 - but it's not enough to dim the fire in the belly of this still youthful 56-year-old.

"Myself and John (Sykes) have not got to the stage where we can't do it any more - we'd stop if we thought we were just going through the motions," Scott confesses before emphasizing finally: "I think that has a lot to do with the songs - if they were inferior, then maybe we would have got tired of it all.

"But they're not and we haven't."

Thin Lizzy play Liverpool University on Thursday, December 6.