Skip to main content

Scott Gorham and Brian Downey: life with Thin Lizzy and the Phil Lynott we knew

Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham onstage at Hammersmith Odeon, London, in 1978
Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham onstage at Hammersmith Odeon, London, in 1978 (Image credit: Gus Stewart / Getty Images)

Even though he’s lived in London for almost 50 years now, Thin Lizzy’s longest tenured guitarist Scott Gorham still exudes the kind of laidback cool usually found lounging by a kidney-shaped pool in southern California. 

I feel obliged to bring up the new ‘super deluxe edition’ Thin Lizzy box set, Rock Legends, which was released in October, and is an impressive beast. From the press release: “Six CDs/ DVDs, featuring 74 unreleased tracks, 83 tracks never previously released on CD, alternative versions of all the hits, rarities, live tracks and rare footage… previously unreleased Jailbreak demo… an A4 book, the rare ‘collected works of Philip Lynott’ poetry book, reproductions of nine tour programmes and four Jim Fitzpatrick art prints…” 

But in the end, with 50 years of Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott to discuss, we just talk instead. Much as we have been doing since we first met in 1976.

Alt

When you joined Thin Lizzy in 1974 did you still have to play Whiskey In The Jar? 

When I auditioned for the guys the whole thing was wild and raucous and guitars were out front. Phil asked me to join that night, and gave me their records because I’d never heard anything Thin Lizzy had done. And here’s their one hit single, Whiskey In The Jar. I take it home, and I’m expecting to hear what I heard at rehearsal, right? Except what I’m hearing is ‘da-derderble-derble-derble…’ I’m going: “What the fuck is this?” Took an instant disliking to it. 

So after about six months of playing this damn song, I go to Phil and say, you know, Whiskey In The Jar, it’s great, but we got a new band now, we gotta stand on our own two feet, you know? He goes: “Yeah, I get it. Let’s get rid of Whiskey In The Jar.” You know, like it was that easy. Now if I reverse the whole thing, and say a new guy comes in years later and goes: “You know, Scott, The Boys Are Back In Town, this is a whole new thing. I think we’ve got to drop it. I’d be: “You’re so fucking fired!”

The first Lizzy album of the new LynottDowney-Robertson-Gorham era was Nightlife. It got written off for its unexpectedly laid-back, funk-brother vibe. But 1974 was the year of Little Feat, the Average White Band, Rod Stewart doing Motown, Bowie’s Young Americans. Was the thinking: this is where we should be going too? 

The rehearsals for that album were exactly the same way as when I went down and jammed with them: everything was loud, it was big. But when we got into the studio, Ron Nevison, the producer, kept saying: “Just turn the guitars down a little.” Robbo [guitarist Brian Robertson] and I would look at each other and go: “This is our first album, and this guy’s just worked with Led Zeppelin. So we’ll just take it down a notch.” 

And Nevison was like: “Could you turn it down a little bit more?” And the volume kept going down and down, to where the songs just didn’t have that drive any longer. We all walked out scratching our heads, going: “What the fuck just happened there?” That’s when Phil goes: “Fuck these producers, I’ll produce the next one.” I went: “Oh shit. What have we let ourselves in for now?”

That next album was Fighting, in 1975. It seemed to take its cue from the rousing Sha La La – the only out-and-out rocker on Nightlife – and just keep building. 

I think every album we did, there was an element of: well that song’s killer, maybe not so much that one. There were a lot of peaks and valleys, especially on those first couple of albums, until we finally got into our stride around the time of Jailbreak and Johnny The Fox, which came out the same year [1976]. Then after The Boys Are Back In Town hit, all the time just evaporated. Writing on the road and no time to demo things, it became a much bigger chore to push us to be able to write and record. But thank God for that song!

Did Phil just come in with it one day? 

Yeah. But it was one of those songs none of us never really paid attention to. We were sitting around one day, and he was on his bass guitar, just kind of ‘dunga dunga dunga…’ He goes: “What do you think?” I said well, it sounds like ‘dunga dunga dunga’ He goes: “Yeah, yeah, I know. But play the chords with me.” 

So I play the chords and it sounded okay, but I’m thinking, well, shit, man, what the fuck can you make out of these? I said: “How about this?” and played the riff we now know. He went: “Yeah, something like that!” Robbo said why don’t we make a harmony. So we get the harmony on it. “Yeah, that’s pretty good.” 

Then we just put it away and didn’t really think about it. It was [Lizzy co-manager] Chris O’Donnell who picked up on it. It was called G.I. Joe at this point. We looked at it like an anti-war song at first. Chris goes: “There’s something about this I really like.” That’s really how that song got on the album, because Chris liked what he was hearing in demo form. 

So should you and Robbo have had a co-songwriting credit on it? 

Well, there is a bone of contention there. There was like a rule, I don’t know where it comes from, but if you don’t write thirty seconds of part of the chord structure, it’s not really writing. We worked like that for years. Maybe myself and Robbo should’ve got a credit. But you can’t go back in time. It is what it is. I’m just happy it was a hit. It changed our lives. Phil was obviously the dominant songwriter. 

Did you ever feel frustrated by that? 

Not really, because a lot of those bits you hear on the album are mine. I feel good about that. My name might not be on it, but I can say that’s me, that’s mine. Phil was always saying: “I don’t wanna be the sole songwriter in this band. Whatever you’ve got, please bring it forward and see if we can use it.” 

In fact you are co-credited on some of Lizzy’s most monumental music: Warriors and Emerald from Jailbreak; Massacre and Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed; the title track on Bad Reputation; the title track on Chinatown. 

The big thing for us was: yeah, okay, it sounds good, but is it going to translate to a stage? There was always that in the back of everyone’s minds, that we need to write these songs also for the stage, because you gotta go out and sell this stuff, and you gotta reproduce it every night. You had to kill.

A lot of the songs were based on real-life characters. 

I met the real Jimmy The Weed years later – Jimmy Donnelly. He was the father of this actor, who I met through this other actor. He just had to tell me: “I’m Jimmy The Weed. I’m the one that song’s about.” I’m like, no shit, you’re a fucking gangster?

There was that quality about Lizzy too: brilliant fun, but with a certain edge. 

Even writing songs there was an edge going on, because we never wanted to sound like anyone else. Everything had to be totally original. If you brought a song in, even part of a song, the last thing you wanted to hear was: “You know, that kinda sounds like…” I think a lot of really good things got thrown off the wagon because of that attitude. It happened to Robbo a couple of times. But then maybe that’s why so many songs from that era people still love today. 

You weren’t afraid to roam outside the hard rock straitjacket. I’m thinking of Dancing In The Moonlight, Still In Love With You, Sarah, to name just the obvious ones. 

As far as that goes, there weren’t any rules. If we liked a song, it goes on the album, no matter what genre it might be pointing to. Like Sarah. Phil says: “Oh, that’s not a Lizzy song.” Yeah, but it’s a great song, and we got to keep it on the album. It became another hit, and to this day it’s a beautiful song. 

Thin Lizzy never quite cracked America. Why do think that was? 

I think we would have. Boys Are Back and Jailbreak were on the charts there. But it got desperate, people getting hepatitis, broken fingers, people quitting. It wasn’t in Australia or Japan or Sweden, it was always fucking America that these calamities happened to the band. It was almost like a forgone conclusion that: Thin Lizzy, you’re not going to make it in America. 

Being American, that must have been particularly galling for you? 

It was so disappointing. Everybody wants to be big in their own country. And the band loved being over there, loved the American audiences. But we kept letting them down. Fans can only take so much before they go: “Will they show up? Should we even buy the tickets?” I can’t say we were our own worst enemies, as a lot of it wasn’t our fault. It was just horrible, horrible luck. 

The band also went through five guitarists in this period: Robbo, Gary Moore, Midge Ure, Snowy White and John Sykes. It was always the other guy who threw in the towel or got fired. How did you deal with all that? 

When we got rid of Robbo the first time, I thought: “Well, that’s it, the end of the band.” But Phil was like: “Fuck that, man, we’re going forward!” Phil never had a doubt that this band would keep going forward. So whoever came in, we always let them have a really good shot at it. 

Phil and I were great, great friends, we loved hanging out with each other. We palled around all the time. Sometimes to the detriment of everybody else in the band. We kind of built this wall around each other and didn’t let other people in. I think the other players felt that, and I do regret that.

Who was the most difficult to deal with? 

I got to say Gary. He was convinced at one point he was the best guitar player in the world. Phil and I would look at each other and go, whoa, okay. Gary had a great sense of humour. But he would go off on these tangents, and either myself or Phil would have to talk to him and say you got to chill out a bit here, buddy.

He really wanted to be a solo artist, and to share guitar duties was not on his menu at all. He really was good enough to pull it off, so I don’t have any animosity. It’s just the way he did it pissed everybody off: walking out in the middle of an American tour. You just don’t do that. He apologised a couple times over the years. It was too late by then, though.

By the time John Sykes joined for Thunder And Lightning in 1983, you and Phil were both hooked on heroin. I feel sorry for John. We knew that was going to be our last album. I don’t think we informed John because we couldn’t believe it ourselves, but it was definitely going down. John got short-changed on the whole thing. 

You and Phil were still good friends, though? 

We were pretty much joined at the hip for ten years. We did everything together. Just messing around on stage, always joking together. He’d always turn around and give me that devilish smile. We were drug buddies, but the fun went out when the heroin came in. For quite a while we tried to keep it secret. Then it became obvious. There just weren’t enough dead rock stars around yet to make it feel too dangerous to do. Before you know it you’re spiralling out of control. It was a terrible time. 

How did you quit? 

I was having another argument with my wife, Christine. I’m like: “What’s the problem? Nobody knows I’m doing it anyway.” It was the look she gave me – incredulous. She said: “Everybody knows!” That did it. I realised this brown powder was ruling my life. And that really depressed me. 

Then Chris found this pioneering treatment by Dr Margaret Patterson, called the black box. Running an electrical current through you. Same thing that helped Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton. I was at a function, and Jimmy Page was there and he dragged me off the sofa and said: “So you gonna call Dr Patterson?” 

So I went to see the doctor, and within ten days I was off of heroin. Physically I was okay, but it took me maybe two years for the mental side. I didn’t even want to go to a gig. I didn’t trust myself. So I lost myself. Didn’t associate with anybody for two years. I went off to America and started recording with my brother and in-laws to get me back playing guitar somehow.

Phil wasn’t so fortunate, of course. He died after an overdose in 1986. I heard that Jimmy Bain [then former Rainbow and soonto-be Dio bassist] was there that night, but when he realised Phil had overdosed he made a run for it

Phil’s laying there on the bathroom floor, he’s desperately ill, but nobody calls the ambulance because they’re afraid the police will come and they’ll get busted. 

So Jimmy just got the fuck out of Dodge? 

Sure did. Don’t have really a lot of good things to say about him ever since. And why would I? He was pretty greasy, all right. I know the last time I saw him [before his death in 2016] he had lost a fair few teeth, his face had aged horribly. What the fuck, man? That could’ve been me if I’d stayed on this shit. 

But you found a way of keeping the flame alive with your posthumous version of Lizzy and the band’s evolution into Black Star Riders with Ricky Warwick as the frontman. 

First time I tried it, Chris O’Donnell [Thin Lizzy manager] said by all means, people want to hear the music, but you’re probably not going to make any money out of it. I said yeah, I know that. I just want to keep playing the songs and have the name out there. 

I get these guys playing with us who are international stars in their own right, they all tell me they wanted to be in Thin Lizzy. It’s great fun to watch the glee on these guys’ faces when you play something like Chinatown. It becomes a thing of what not to play! It’s a great problem to have.

Alt

Brian Downey holds the distinction of being the only other musician, along with Phil Lynott, to have played on every Thin Lizzy release. The drummer was far more than merely the man who kept the beat behind the virtuosos and rock stars in front of him. Ask anyone who has been in the band and they’ll extol the virtues of his immeasurable contribution to the evolution of the style that defined Lizzy. 

Downey and his school pal Lynott formed the band in the first place, and the pair remained close until Phil’s untimely death in 1986. He was also part of the reactivation of Lizzy in 1996, and stayed until 2013 when he decided he didn’t want to be a member of Black Star Riders, which the band had morphed into. But he still keeps the legacy of Thin Lizzy going with his own band, Brian Downey’s Alive And Dangerous. 

No one knows this band better than this unassuming drummer, and no one can provide as much insight into the triumphs and tragedies that beset Lizzy throughout their career.

Alt

Who were your early musical influences? 

When I was growing up we always had the radio on. There were two stations we listened to: RTE in Ireland, and the Light Programme on the BBC. So I heard a lot of Irish jig music, dance bands, plus a little pop and also crooners. My cousin, who was much older than me, lived in our house, and through him I heard country and western records. 

And then I heard Elvis, who was like nothing else I had ever come across before. He fascinated me. And then The Beatles arrived. They changed the whole musical world for me as well as everyone else. The Shadows were also a massive influence on my musical taste. 

You went to school with Phil. What was he like in those days? 

Phil was a couple of years older than me, so he was never in my class at school. But I do remember seeing him play with the Black Eagles at a gig. He was the singer with that band, and didn’t play bass. He was very impressive. His stage presence was incredible. 

The next day, I went up to Phil in the school playground and told him that I was blown away by the band. He asked if I was in a band. I told him I was the drummer with The Liffeybeats, and he then said that we could support the Black Eagles at their next show. I thought nothing of it, but he was true to his word, and we did open for them. He stood out as he was the only black kid in a school of fifteen hundred pupils. But he would stand up to anyone who abused him. 

Who came up with the name Thin Lizzy? 

It was [original guitarist] Eric Bell. We were throwing around ideas for a name after a rehearsal one night, and Eric suggested Tin Lizzie, who was a character in [children's ciomic] The Dandy. We all laughed at that one. But the next day, we were still trying to come up with a name, but nothing seemed right, so Eric again put forward Tin Lizzie. As we had nothing better, we thought why not. It was also Eric who changed the spelling to Thin Lizzy.

In 1973, Whiskey In The Jar was a massive hit. But did it prove to be a bad move in some way? 

In a way it was, because that got us tagged as a folkrock band. We did a few gigs in the north of England, where people turned up expecting us to play folk music, and when they realised we were a straight-ahead rock band some of them did walk out. So that hit single did set us back a little. It didn’t help that Phil and Eric were also doing dates on their own at Irish folk clubs. That added to the impression that Lizzy played folk-style music.

How much of a blow was it when Eric Bell left at the end of 1973? 

It was massive. I knew he’d been unhappy for a few months. Eric hated miming Whiskey In The Jar on TV shows around Europe. When we played Queen’s University in Belfast [December 31, 1973], he got really drunk with his family and friends. We tried to sober him up, but it didn’t work. About fifteen minutes after we went on stage, he took off his guitar and walked away. 

He refused to come back, which left Phil and me to do the gig as a duo. Thankfully everybody in the crowd was drunk, because it was New Year’s Eve, so I don’t think they even noticed. Otherwise we wouldn’t have gotten out alive! 

Phil asked Gary Moore to take over from Eric just for the rest of the Irish tour. Eric did want to return, and I was all for giving him a second chance, but Phil wouldn’t hear of him coming back. 

You quit the band after a German tour in 1974. Why? 

After Eric left, we still had dates we were contracted to do in Germany, otherwise we’d have been sued. So Phil brought in John Du Cann and Andy Gee on guitar for the tour. But for me it didn’t click, and we barely got through the shows. I told Phil we should get rid of those guys and have a rethink, but Phil insisted they were in. So I quit. 

A few days later Chris Morrison, the band’s manager, turned up on my doorstep and said Phil wanted me to change my mind and come back. I agreed, but only if we got in new guitarists. When Phil said yes to this condition I was happy to get back. 

How did you get Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham, in 1974? 

We held auditions for a new guitarist in London. We weren’t sure whether to get one or two. There were a lot of candidates, some good, others not so. And then Robbo turned up. As soon as I saw him, I knew we’d met before. He’d come to a Lizzy show in Glasgow, and afterwards he and his girlfriend came back to my hotel room. I can’t recall how that happened, but Robbo brought along his guitar and played some of our songs very well. 

Anyway, he did the audition and was brilliant. Phil and I knew he was right for us. The odd thing was that he’d originally come to London to audition for another band – as a drummer! – then saw the ad for the Lizzy auditions. Thank goodness he came along. Phil felt we should have a second guitarist, just in case we had a similar situation to when Eric quit. 

So we carried on auditioning, and Scott turned up. He had the longest hair I had ever seen, and played with his own style. He and Robbo jammed and seemed to get on well. Once the audition was finished, Phil went into a room by himself to listen to a tape of the session, then came out and announced that Scott was in.

Fighting, in 1975, was Lizzy’s breakthrough album. Do you feel that this was the true birth of the band? 

This is where our signature sound emerged, so yes it was. The twin lead guitar sound came into its own. With Nightlife [1974] we touched on this style, but on Fighting it worked so well. Phil produced this, and did a brilliant job. I don’t know why he didn’t produce subsequent albums for us.

The Boys Are Back In Town has become one of rock’s iconic songs. Do you think it defines what Thin Lizzy were all about? 

I suppose in America it does. On the radio out there, this and Jailbreak are our only two songs ever played. I suppose Americans don’t know any others we did. So The Boys Are Back In Town in particular defines Thin Lizzy in the States. But fans in Britain and Europe know a lot more of our material, so maybe the impact isn’t as huge. 

The funny thing is that I never thought The Boys Are Back in Town was anything special. For me it was a good album track, no more. Certainly not something we should have been putting out as a single. Luckily I was wrong. 

Lizzy seemed to suffer bad luck in breaking America, with two tours cancelled in 1976, firstly because Phil contracted hepatitis and then when Robbo injured a hand in a brawl. Was that when the band lost momentum over there? 

Yes it was. But it was our own fault, especially with Robbo. Why he went out the night before we were due to leave for an American tour and got in a bar fight is beyond me. Obviously Phil getting hepatitis was unfortunate. But even there you could blame him, because this was caused by the drugs he was doing. 

As far as America goes, we were our own worst enemies. Promoters wouldn’t touch us, because we suddenly had a reputation for being unreliable. We’d done amazing tours with Queen and Journey. Then these cancellations happened, and it all stopped for us.

What was your relationship with Phil like at this point? 

My personal relationship with Phil was always good. But he had immense pressure on him, as it was down to him to write the material for our albums almost on his own. When you have so much pressure, it can change you as a person. And Phil got very narky and impatient with people, whereas before he was a very patient person. He took drugs to some extent to help deal with that pressure. I feel he took on more responsibility than he could handle, and that became obvious in the way he acted on the road. 

Was the band democratic, or did Phil make all the decisions? 

We had monthly meetings with our management, and usually these were taken up with Phil laying out his ideas for the band. And he made most of the big decisions. That was fine, as we all accepted him as the leader. Sure, we would all make our opinions known when it was necessary, but mostly we left the final word to Phil. Everyone was happy with that. He was good at finding solutions to problems. And towards the end of the band he was virtually the manager.

In 1978 Lizzy released the now classic Live & Dangerous album. Producer Tony Visconti has claimed that a lot of studio overdubs were done on it. Is that true? 

The truth is that there were no drum overdubs done at all. Tony asked me if I wanted to do any, but I was happy with the way it sounded. Yes, there were a few mistakes, but none that were easy to spot. Phil, Robbo and Scott all did correct a few of their mistakes, but in all I reckon they spent no more than fifteen minutes doing that. 

No new solos were done. Nothing apart from small being errors ironed out. So there was very little finessing in the studio. Almost everything you hear is genuinely live. 

Why does Tony say otherwise? 

I think his memory has failed him, and he can’t accurately recall exactly what happened. I’m sure Tony genuinely believes what he says, but he is wrong.

Were Lizzy going through confusion at the start of the eighties, with musicians working on Lizzy’s Chinatown at the same time as Lynott’s album Solo In Soho? 

Yes, that was the case. We’d go into the studio to do a Lizzy session, and then do a song which eventually would end up on Solo In Soho. I didn’t mind too much, because on previous albums we’d do something that wasn’t used, and then we would return to it later on. But [guitarist] Snowy White was very unhappy with it all. He wasn’t at all pleased when he recorded a track for Chinatown and it ended up on Phil’s album. 

Thunder And Lightning, in 1983, was a much heavier album. Were you comfortable with that direction? 

You have to understand that we were handicapped, because we didn’t have much time to find a replacement for Snowy. Chris Tsangarides, our producer at the time, mentioned John Sykes to us, and we knew he was more of a metal guitarist, because he’d been in the Tygers Of Pan Tang. But even before he joined, Phil had demoed songs for the album which sounded heavier than we were used to. 

And they really suited John’s style. But it was a shock to hear the way John played – he really ripped up the amps and was a very loud player. The album was smooth to record, although Phil took a lot longer to write the lyrics than he usually did. He was thinking that with our new direction the lyrics had to be a lot heavier in content. However, it all came out well, and people liked what we did. 

In 1983 the band split up. It’s been said that Phil didn’t want that to happen. What actually happened? 

It was really a combination of Scott and Phil who ended the band. Scott was having bad health issues, because of his drug addiction, and wanted to stop so he could work this out. Phil also felt it was time to move on. Halfway through the tour, which kept getting extended, we all knew this would be the end of Lizzy. 

I do recall that Darren [Wharton, keyboards] was very upset about it all. The rest of us just accepted it. After the final show [Nuremberg, September 4, 1983] we just shook hands and said goodbye. Simple as that.

How bad were the drug problems in the band at the time? 

They were really awful. So much so that if we had stayed on the road, then the consequences could have been grim for both Phil and Scott. They were deep into addiction, and needed to have the time to sort themselves out. Which Scott did, but Phil didn’t.

At the end of 1983, Phil asked you to be part of his new band Grand Slam. You said yes, but then changed your mind. 

What happened? I did agree to join. But then Phil said that they’d learn six or seven songs to play live and just jam for the rest of the set, and I didn’t like that idea. However, I went along to rehearsals in Dublin for a while. These were close to where Phil lived, but it took me an hour or so to drive over. I’d get there for two p.m., when the rehearsals were supposed to start, but nobody else turned up until six. 

After a week of this I got disillusioned, and said something to the others, and after that they began to arrive earlier. All expect Phil. He’d turn up at all hours, because he was going out every night, get drunk and not make it home to six a.m. I put it down to a lack of interest on his part, and told him that I couldn’t carry on like this and was leaving the band. He accepted my decision, and we parted as friends, but he never tried to persuade me to stay. 

It’s been reported that you and Phil had discussed a Lizzy reunion just before he died. How close was it to happening? 

We did talk about doing it. I was up for the idea, and Scott was almost ready after dealing with his health problems. But something had to be done about Phil’s drug and drink problems. I did try to talk to Phil about his issues, but he was in denial. And I didn’t want to come straight out and tell him bluntly that he needed help, so went round the houses a bit. But Phil’s problems were always going to be the stumbling block.

Phil died in 1986. How shocked were you by his death? 

It surprised me and everyone else. We all knew he was ill, but never expected this. None of us had any idea how much damage he’d done to his liver and other organs. His body was going into shutdown. But when his death was announced, it was a massive shock – and remained so for years. Phil had an amazing constitution, and we all thought he was invincible. 

Maybe we should have taken more notice and spoken up, but we never did. Besides, would he have listened? In that era nobody went into rehab. The last time I saw him was when I was asked to be his drummer and mime along to 19 on the Christmas [1985] edition of the TV show Razzamatazz. He looked bloated and overweight, although still in good form. Phil was drinking brandy on the early-afternoon flight up to Newcastle, where the show was filmed. We missed our dress rehearsal slot, because he locked himself in the dressing room. 

When he finally opened the door, he looked groggy and was sweating – he’d obviously taken something. In the end all we got was a five minute rehearsal, instead of the planned thirty minutes. Phil really was in no fit state to do the show, although it came out okay.

How would you sum up Phil Lynott as a person and as a musician? 

He was such an important part of my life. A good friend and mentor. I would go to him for advice instead of my dad. He had such an amazing personality. As a musician, he was so dedicated. When it was decided that he should play bass as well as sing in Lizzy, he had very little time to learn from scratch how to play that instrument. So he locked himself in his flat and pulled it off. 

I expected Phil’s bass playing to be a disaster at our first show, but he was excellent. He became such an amazing player, with his own unbelievable style. As a songwriter he was second to none. Whatever Phil wanted to do, he’d work hard to master. There is nobody like him these days.

You were part of the revived Thin Lizzy from 1996 to 2016. Why did you leave?

When I was asked by Scott to join in ninety-six, I expected it to be for one tour. Which would have been a fun thing to do. But then we did a second tour, and it kept going. I wasn’t prepared to do this, so left in 1998. But I came back in 2010. However, in 2016 it was suggested we change the name to Black Star Riders and record an album. That didn’t interest me, so I left them to it. 

In 2012 wasn’t there talk about doing a new Thin Lizzy studio album? 

Yes. And we even did demos. When this was first put forward, I didn’t think it was a good idea. I was happy with us just playing our songs live, and leaving it at that. But despite my reticence, the idea grew legs. Everybody else was into the excitement of doing a new studio album, and I was carried along with it for a while. 

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and we stopped looking to do an album. However, the rest of the guys were still keen to record, which is when the name change happened. That’s when I decided to step aside. 

Lizzy’s influence seems to continue to get bigger. Why do you think that is? 

That’s a hard question to answer. I think that’s because there’s a huge nostalgia these days for what was done in the seventies and eighties. There were just so many musicians who had their own style and became innovators. These sort of bands don’t exist any more. Thin Lizzy fit into that category. 

That era was incredible, and I feel very fortunate to have been part of it. Not just because of the wonderful music, but also due to the vast number of fantastic venues around. It was a defining period.

Thin Lizzy's Rock Legends 6CD/DVD Super Deluxe Edition is out now.