Scott Gorham interview: selling drugs to cops and how golf can save your life

Scott Gorham holding a guitar
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon/Guitarist Magazine)

Songs For While I’m Away, the critically acclaimed documentary about the life and death of Thin Lizzy singer Phil Lynott, has been made available for digital download.

A number of musicians contributed to the film, including Lizzy's Eric Bell and Darren Wharton, Metallica’s James Hetfield, U2’s Adam Clayton, Huey Lewis, Suzi Quatro and more. And, of course, former Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham

The Glendale Gunslinger joined the band for 1974's Nightlife and began a long songwriting partnership with Lynott, co-writing classics like Emerald, Bad Reputation, Chinatown and Are You Ready?

When Thin Lizzy reformed a decade after Lynott's death, Gorham led the way. And when he left Black Star Riders earlier this year, it was to concentrate on Lizzy, with a promise of live shows to come in 2022.

Songs For While I’m Away is available to download now


Don’t sell drugs to cops

This seems obvious, right? One Labor Day weekend I went to New Mexico with my friends and when we ran out of money for gas to get home someone said, “Let’s just chop off a little piece of this hash we’ve got and sell it.” A guy came over and said, “Hey man, do you have anything?” and I said, “As a matter of fact I do…” 

But it turned out that the guy was a fucking cop. I was in jail for three days and they were threatening me with two-to-five years in the state penitentiary. I went to court, but my lawyer uncle had a meeting with the judge in his chambers, paid him $4,000 and I walked out a free man.  

Anonymity equals freedom

Growing up, I kept landing myself in trouble. I was in LA County jail for four days once and it was the scariest fucking place on earth. So when I got the opportunity to come to London it was a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. No one knew who the hell I was, so I could be this totally different guy. London gave me a new shot at life. 

Chasing fame will exhaust you

If you’re genuinely trying to be famous in this business, then you probably won’t be, because you’re in music for the wrong reason. A lot of times I forget that I’m vaguely well-known. There’s been times when I’ve been driving and someone is honking at me from behind and I’m going, “What’s his fucking problem?” And then as the guy is driving past me and I’m about to give him a load of shit, he’ll shout, “Live And Dangerous is my favourite album!” Fame shouldn’t mean making an asshole of yourself! 

Work with good people

When the first big cheques started coming in for Lizzy, our manager said to us, “Go buy a house and go buy a car, sure, but maybe don’t buy a Rolls-Royce and a big country pile just yet, because this isn’t going to last forever.” That was really solid advice. Too often you hear of guys from bands blowing everything because they didn’t have the right people around them to give them any perspective. 

Boredom can be dangerous

People think the rock star thing is all limos and titties, but when you only work for two hours a day there’s a lot of really fucking boring downtime. Killing those other 22 hours per day on a six-month tour can get pretty tedious. Drugs start off as fun but then it gets painful, and maintaining an addiction becomes a job in itself.

Golf can save your life

Golf saved my ass. When I finally tried to kick heroin, the guy staying with me to guard me could see how bored and irritable I was getting, so he said, “As a kid, did you have any hobbies?” I said, “Well, I used to go to a driving range and smash golf balls”, and he said, “OK, let’s go do that.” I remember concentrating so hard on hitting this stupid little white ball, and for a couple of hours it made me forget all the shit I was going through. I went out again the next day, then got my own set of clubs, and never looked back.

Rock’n’roll should be fun

I’ve been lucky enough to meet the right musicians at the right time. You hear of bands who fucking hate each other, and won’t travel in the same car, or sit in the same room, and you think, “What’s the fucking point? What a horrible life!” I’ve always played with people that I like. It’s surely too much like hard work to turn rock’n’roll into a job.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.