Thunder's Luke Morley: the soundtrack of my life

Luke Morley seated in front of a brick wall, wearing sunglasses
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

Rising from the wreckage of Terraplane in the late 80s, guitarist Luke Morley, singer Danny Bowes and drummer Harry James quickly re-formed as Thunder and hit the ground running with 1990’s now classic debut album Backstreet Symphony

With grunge around the corner, the omens weren’t great for a hirsute hard rock band, but as Thunder’s chief writer Morley brought a bagful of influences that have fuelled the band right through to this year’s fourteenth studio album, Dopamine.


The first music I remember hearing

Probably [The Beatles’] Please Please Me. I had one of those little plastic guitars and apparently I used to stand in the corner with my back to the room.

The first song I performed live

I was thirteen and it was a gig at my mate’s school in South East London. The first song we played was T.Rex’s Metal Guru. That was it. I was hooked. I mean, there were complications that night; I had to get from my house in New Cross, on the bus, covered in glitter.

The singer

It has to be Paul Rodgers. His phrasing, his sound. I saw Bad Company about five years ago, and he’s still absolutely bang on it.

The guitar hero

Gun to the head, Jimmy Page. Not just as a player but as a sonic architect. Everybody I know is still trying to remake Kashmir – but they never will. I was fortunate enough to go out with him on his fiftieth birthday. We went to this grotty old boozer in Notting Hill. Jimmy’s a great guitar player, but he’s the most shit darts player I’ve ever seen in my life.

The songwriter

Pete Townshend. Christ, I mean, anybody that can conceive Quadrophenia, Tommy and Who’s Next – within the space of five years – that’s some achievement. What I admired about him, too, was he was the only guy in the band that writes. I identify with that because it’s the same for me in Thunder. It’s dark and lonely work sometimes.

The best band/artist I've seen live

Bruce Springsteen. I’m not a fan of his records, particularly, because I think he’s never been produced properly. But me and Danny went to see him in the eighties at Wembley, and I’ve never seen anyone control the audience like he does. He played for three hours and I wasn’t bored once.

The most underrated band ever

Humble Pie. They did well in the States for a few years, but I think Led Zeppelin took the wind out of their sails. Steve Marriott is one of the great English singers. People talk about Paul Rodgers and Robert Plant, the usual suspects, but Marriott maybe doesn’t get the attention he deserves.

The greatest album of all time

Right now, Abbey Road. What’s really interesting about it, as a Beatles anorak, is that you get to see all of them working individually: Lennon with Come Together. Harrison with Something and Here Comes The Sun, You Never Give Me Your Money which is McCartney, even Ringo with Octopus’s Garden. It’s never been bettered.

My biggest disappointment

I was a massive fan of Radiohead’s mid-nineties albums – The Bends and OK Computer. But the next one, Kid A, was incomprehensible.

The cover version

Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower [written by Bob Dylan]. It’s still my favourite guitar solo. I don’t know how the fuck he did it. Even the intro gets you off guard, because it’s on the wrong side of the beat initially.

The anthem

More Than A Feeling by Boston always lifts my spirits. As soon as I hear the intro I’m a teenager again. And when it hits the chorus, you fucking know it’s the chorus.

The best record I've made

I think our new album, Dopamine, is up there among our best. One positive thing about lockdown is that it gave me a lot of time to write. The reason it’s a double album is because we felt we had sixteen songs that all needed to be heard. It wasn’t like: “Well, let’s make a double because we can.”

The worst record I've made

I like to think that on every album there’s some good stuff. But I’m not particularly proud of Bang!.

My guilty pleasure

I have a penchant for middle-of-the-road stuff from the era of my youth. So I’d have to say The Carpenters. My god, what a voice she [Karen Carpenter] had. It was like velvet.

My Saturday night party song

Brown Sugar or Jumpin’ Jack Flash. I can’t dance. Even when I was a kid I never went to discos, apart from to meet girls. But there are some records that make you forget that you’re a middle-aged white bloke who can’t dance.

The song that makes my cry

God Only Knows by The Beach Boys, because that reminds me of my late father.

The song I want played at my funeral

Probably the same thing we played at my old man’s funeral, which was Trail Of The Lonesome Pine by Laurel And Hardy. Always leave them laughing!

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.