Lizzy and Black Star Riders guitarist Scott Gorham on triumphs, Tweets and resurrecting Phil Lynott.
Scott Gorham still remembers the bad years. Which helps him to now appreciate the good ones. “When Thin Lizzy ended, I thought that was gonna be it for me,” he reflects. “Back then I probably thought I wouldn’t still be doing this at sixty-seven years old. But I well and truly love what I do with Black Star Riders.”
What’s the best thing you’ve seen this year? This summer we were out on a major festival run and Prophets Of Rage were playing. These guys fucking crank it up, and right from chorus one I was absolutely hooked.
Have BSR faced any challenges this year?
Well we’ve had a member change. Because our base is over here in Europe, Damon [Johnson] feels he’s missing a lot of his family life. But we’ve gained this really talented guitarist, Christian Martucci.
What are the best and worst things about living in 2018?
The best thing is the communication. Probably the worst thing is YouTube. I remember as a kid you had to buy a ticket to see what a band looked like. Now it’s just absolutely instant and it’s taken away the mystery. I miss that.
What would Phil Lynott have made of things like iPhones and YouTube?
I think he’d have jumped all over it. He’d have had a ton of YouTube stuff going on, probably his own Twitter account with a couple of hundred thousand followers. I think he would have absolutely fallen in love with it. We had Bohemian Rhapsody this year.
Would you consider doing the same for Lizzy? We’ve already had a few directors and producers who wanted to do the Thin Lizzy story. You remember the black guy out of CSI [Gary Dourdan]? He got my itinerary and flew into London specifically to meet me about him playing Phil. I looked at him and I thought: “Yeah, this guy could actually do it.” He was tall, thin, almost had the jawline. But apparently the script was not up to scratch.
Roy Orbison played ‘live’ as a hologram this year. Would you ever do that with Phil?
We thought about that about six years ago. It was one of Phil’s anniversaries and we were going to do this – until we found out how much it cost. At that point it was extremely prohibitive, and we just couldn’t get that technology up and running on our stage.
Next year is forty years since Phil is gone, or some sort of anniversary, so we’re going out doing six or seven shows as Thin Lizzy. We’ve got a sterling line-up we’re getting ready to announce. I think people will be surprised at who’s going to be getting up there on stage with us.
What do think of the state of the world in 2018?
Actually, it feels pretty terrible right now. You watch CNN and BBC News and see how divisive society is becoming. We’re going down to South America, and they’ve just elected this mega-right-wing president [Jair Bolsonaro] down there. That seems to be happening quite a lot over the world. It’s crazy with, y’know, pipe bombs being sent through the mail. Everything seems a bit fractured now. I think all of us have to tread a hell of a lot lighter, watch their step these days. There’s more mass shootings than ever before. What the hell’s going on?
Do you fall out with other musicians over your politics?
Well in our camp it’s all anti-Trump. You go on these festivals and it’s all anti-Trump. It’s the proTrump guy that’s in the smaller camp, so he’s the one that doesn’t open up his mouth.
When Classic Rock first came out in 1998, Thin Lizzy had recently got back together. There was a lot of emotions going through me at that point. I so wanted to play the music again. I hadn’t played it for a fair few years. I also wondered: “Does anybody even like Thin Lizzy music any longer? When we walk on stage and Phil is not there, what’s the reaction going to be?”
Had your personal life calmed down by 1998? Yeah. I had a clear head. All of a sudden you’re playing guitar better. You’re moving more gracefully, instead of stumbling around the stage. And you want to show everybody: “I’m this changed guy, check it out.” That’s 1998. As opposed to 1985. The drugs injured me in a huge way, mentally and physically, and really I kept that guitar case closed for about three years. And I didn’t know if I was ever gonna open it up again.
What advice would you give your fortyseven-year-old self ?
I’d already stopped the drugs, so I think I’d already said it to myself. But I’d have said: “You just gotta get out there and do what you gotta do. You’re no good at bagging groceries at Sainbury’s. Keep your head down and keep going.”
And I kept going. God forbid any health issues crop up. I’m doing good on that side of it. Mentally I can still remember my name and some of the songs [laughs].”
Gorham (second right) with Black Star Riders.