Skip to main content

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

Scott looks after Louder’s online buyer’s guides and also scouts out the best deals for music fans from every corner of the internet. He's spent more than 25 years in newspapers and magazines and in 2014 joined our news desk, where he wrote extensively about rock, metal, prog and more. Scott has previous written for the Daily Record, Sunday Mirror, The Herald and IGN.