Scott Gorham on the “horrible luck” that stopped Thin Lizzy from cracking the US

Thin Lizzy on stage in 1976
Thin Lizzy on stage in 1976 (Image credit: Ian Dickson/Redferns - Getty)

Guitarist Scott Gorham has reflected on the “horrible luck” which resulted in Thin Lizzy not being able to properly crack the American market.

In 1976 and band were riding the crest of a wave in the UK and Europe following the release of their Jailbreak album and the hit single The Boys Are Back In Town

However, a prestigious US arena tour opening for Rainbow had to be abandoned after frontman Phil Lynott picked up hepatitis C, while a second run of shows later in the year had to be cancelled after guitarist Brian Robertson slashed his hand during a brawl at London’s Speakeasy Club.

In the new issue of Classic Rock magazine, Gorham says he thinks they would have cracked the US market, but adds: “The Boys Are Back In Town 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.'"

Put to him that it must have been galling for him on a personal level, the Californian agrees.

“It was so disappointing,” he says. “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.”

Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott is the cover star of issue 279 of Classic Rock magazine, which is on sale now, with the mag looking back at the history of the band through the eyes of Gorham and Brian Downey.

The mag also features Peter GreenBlues PillsFantastic NegritoKissJames Dean Bradfield, an Icons Of Rock’N’Roll book, a look back at Monsters Of Rock and much more.

Last week, the first trailer for the upcoming documentary Phil Lynott: Songs For While I’m Away was released, along with details of a massive new Thin Lizzy box set which will include a total of 99 tracks – 74 of which are previously unreleased.

Classic Rock 279

(Image credit: Future)

Thin Lizzy: Rock Legends

Thin Lizzy: Rock Legends
The first part of a career retrospective of Thin Lizzy will be released in October to mark the band's 50th anniversary. It'll feature demos, radio sessions, live recordings and rare edits.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.