Scott Gorham

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Scott Gorham
Black Star Riders – Wacken Open Air 2014 06.jpg
Gorham performing with Black Star Riders 2014 at Wacken Open Air
Background information
Birth nameWilliam Scott Gorham
Born (1951-03-17) March 17, 1951 (age 68)
Glendale, California
GenresRock, blues-rock, hard rock, heavy metal, Progressive Rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1974 – present
Associated actsThin Lizzy, The Greedies, 21 Guns, Phenomena, Black Star Riders, Supertramp, Asia

William Scott Gorham (born March 17, 1951) is an American guitarist and songwriter who was one of the "twin lead guitarists" for the Irish rock band, Thin Lizzy. Although not a founding member of Thin Lizzy, he served a continuous membership after passing an audition in 1974, joining the band at a time when the band's future was in doubt after the departures of original guitarist Eric Bell and his brief replacement Gary Moore. Gorham remained with Thin Lizzy until the band's breakup in 1984. He and guitarist Brian Robertson, both hired at the same time, marked the beginning of the band's most critically successful period, and together developed Thin Lizzy's twin lead guitar style while contributing dual backing vocals as well.[1][2][3] Gorham is the band member with the longest membership after founders Brian Downey (drummer) and frontman and bass guitarist, Phil Lynott.

Since 1996, Gorham has continued to perform with Thin Lizzy on guitar and backing vocals, having assembled various lineups after the death of band leader Lynott in 1986. In 2012, Gorham co-founded the Thin Lizzy spin-off band, Black Star Riders to showcase new material.


Early years[edit]

Scott Gorham was born in Glendale, California and began his musical career at 13, learning to play the bass guitar, and joining several local teenage bands including The Jesters, Mudd and The Ilford Subway, the latter recording a single, "The 3rd Prophecy" in October 1967. He switched instruments when a close friend of his, a guitarist in his then-current band, 18-year-old Steve Schrage, died in a motorcycle crash in Glendale in 1968. Gorham's friend (and bandmate in a number of bands) Bob Siebenberg later recalled, "That incident devastated Scott. He decided the very day that he heard about the accident to take this kid's place, to try to get to where this kid would have eventually gotten to. Scott stunned everybody by dropping the bass, which he was very proficient at, and switching to guitar."[4] Gorham subsequently joined Redeye in 1969 with Siebenberg, and the two joined Benbecula in 1970 before Siebenberg moved to England in 1971.[5]

In 1973 Siebenberg, by then also Gorham's brother-in-law and drummer with Supertramp, convinced Gorham to join him in England, with hope of playing in the same outfit.[4] Gorham was unable to find work with his friend, so he started playing with a number of bands in pubs around London, before starting his own band, Fast Buck. In 1974 a musician acquaintance, Ruan O’Lochlainn, suggested he attend auditions being held by Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy's primary songwriter, and one of the founders of the band.[6] Thin Lizzy were at the time in a state of flux and reorganization, and while the drummer and bassist remained, two new guitarists were wanted. Brian Robertson, at age seventeen, had already been chosen before Gorham auditioned and joined. The two guitarists shared lead guitar roles, and harmonized with one another, as well as alternately playing rhythm and lead, which led to Thin Lizzy having what was considered a unique sound.

Thin Lizzy[edit]

L to R: Phil Lynott with Gorham in a 1978 performance with Thin Lizzy at Pinkpop Festival, The Netherlands

Upon joining Thin Lizzy, Gorham took on a songwriting role as well as that of a guitarist. "She Knows", the opening track of his first album with the band, Nightlife, began a long songwriting partnership with Lynott.[7] They co-wrote two songs for Gorham's next album with the band, Fighting, and Gorham contributed one of his own, "Ballad of a Hard Man".[8] This was to be the only Thin Lizzy song that was credited solely to Gorham. He also co-wrote "Warriors" and "Emerald" on Jailbreak, Lizzy's breakthrough album. Gorham's role in the band remained consistent until the recording of 1977's Bad Reputation album, for which Brian Robertson was largely absent.[9] Gorham played all the lead guitar parts for the majority of the songs, including the hit single "Dancing in the Moonlight (It's Caught Me in Its Spotlight)", though he convinced Lynott to bring back Robertson and have him record the solos for the songs "Killer Without a Cause" and "Opium Trail".[9]

When Gary Moore returned to the band, replacing Robertson in 1979 for the album Black Rose: A Rock Legend, Gorham took the new arrival as an impetus to improve his own playing, as he did with all his subsequent guitar partners in the band.[10] At the same time however, drug use became more prevalent within the band, and Gorham and Lynott both became addicted to heroin, with a negative impact on the creativity and musicianship in the band.[11] Gorham was unable to rid himself of the habit until 1985, after the band had split up.[11] 1980 introduced another co-lead guitarist in Snowy White, culminating in the album Chinatown for which Gorham co-wrote two songs. His songwriting contributions increased on the band's next effort, as he was credited with co-writing almost half the songs on the 1981 album Renegade.[12] Thin Lizzy split up in 1983 after finishing a tour in support of Thunder and Lightning.

Phenomena II and 21 Guns[edit]

Gorham with Thin Lizzy; Monsters of Rock Festival, Milan, Italy 2007

After Thin Lizzy broke up, Gorham joined Phenomena II, where he met Leif Johansen (ex-A-ha and Far Corporation) with whom he formed 21 Guns, releasing three albums. He has also played with Asia, the Rollins Band, and Supertramp. Gorham's sister Vicki married Supertramp's drummer Bob Siebenberg.

In 1997, he played guest guitars on the track "I'm Alive" from Psycho Motel's album, Welcome to the World.

Reformation of Thin Lizzy[edit]

Gorham reformed Thin Lizzy in 1996 with former band members, playing various tours in tribute to founding singer, songwriter, and bassist Phil Lynott, who died in 1986. The tour was named the 20/20 tour – 20 dates for 20 years. After John Sykes' departure in 2009, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, and Marco Mendoza rejoined the band. New to the lineup were Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell and former The Almighty vocalist Ricky Warwick. After months of pre-production and two weeks of rehearsals in Los Angeles in November 2010, this version of Thin Lizzy started a world tour in January 2011. Touring continued throughout the year and into 2012, with Campbell eventually being replaced permanently by Damon Johnson.

To coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the release of the Thin Lizzy album Jailbreak, there was a selection of special Thin Lizzy shows in 2016–17. The band consisted of Gorham, Ricky Warwick, Damon Johnson, Darren Wharton, Scott Travis and Tom Hamilton.

Black Star Riders[edit]

Scott Gorham playing with Black Star Riders at The Warfield Theater in San Francisco 4-19-2018

After Johnson joined the band, Gorham stated that the band members were considering recording new material, which would be the first new Thin Lizzy studio recordings since 1983.[13] In December 2012, he co-founded the Thin Lizzy spin-off band Black Star Riders as a vehicle for the new material, rather than release it under the Thin Lizzy name.[14] Black Star Riders' first album All Hell Breaks Loose was released in May 2013.[15] In June 2013, he won the "Riff Lord Award" at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards for his work on the album.[16]

A second Black Star Riders album, The Killer Instinct, was released in 2015, followed by touring throughout the UK and Europe during the remainder of the year. Gorham concentrated on a small number of Thin Lizzy festival appearances during 2016, and also began work on the third Black Star Riders album. Heavy Fire was released in February 2017, and Gorham confirmed his desire to create new music rather than simply continue to play material from his past, stating, "I think it's important if you are a musician, or at least a serious one, that you want to start breaking new ground and not doing the same thing over and over. It's important to keep dipping into that songwriting well."[17]

Guitar and equipment[edit]

When he joined Thin Lizzy, Gorham was playing a Japanese Les Paul copy, which was quickly deemed not up to standard. He is often associated with a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe guitar with mini humbuckers. This guitar was purchased at the same time as his bandmate Brian Robertson's Deluxe guitar. The two guitars could be distinguished by the fact that Gorham's guitar had a redder finish and lacked a pick-guard. In 1978 he began playing a Les Paul Standard, which became his main guitar until Thin Lizzy broke up in 1983. He can be seen using a Schecter with a Lynott style mirror scratchplate on later videos. Nowadays, Gorham uses only Gibson Axcess Guitars which are lighter and thinner in body width than regular Les Paul guitars. guitar with 100-watt 1970's modded Marshall Amplifiers.[18] Even before Thin Lizzy split up, Gorham started using Fender Stratocasters, but reverted to his Gibson Les Paul in 2006.[19] For the Thin Lizzy 2011 tour of the UK, Gorham said that he would be returning to usage of a Gibson Les Paul, this time using a Les Paul Axcess as his main tour guitar. In an interview with Guitarist magazine he said that he had made contact with Gibson Custom Shop and had used it during rehearsals. The Axcess is different from normal Les Pauls in the fact it makes use of a Floyd Rose tremolo and also has a thinner body among other features. Gorham's Axcess has a thinner neck than the normal models as well as a 500T pickup in the bridge position.

From 2007, Gorham was an endorsee of the German amp company, ENGL. His setup was either two or four E650 Ritchie Blackmore Signature heads, his modified Marshall, and four standard ENGL cabinets. In an interview for the August 2010 edition of Guitarist magazine, Gorham was quoted as saying that he would be using the ENGL Fireball head for the January 2011 tour of the UK with Thin Lizzy.

Early in 2016 Gorham returned to Marshall Amplification, playing through DSL100 heads and 1960BX cabs.

Personal life[edit]

Gorham is married and lives in London. His nephew Jesse Siebenberg is a professional guitarist currently performing with Lissie. His sister, Vickie, married close friend and Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg.[20]



  1. ^ Prato, Greg. Scott Gorham at AllMusic. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  2. ^ Kies, Chris (May 2009). "Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham: Rediscovery, Channeled". Premier Guitar. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  3. ^ Donnelly, Dan. "Scott Gorham". Thin Lizzy: A Rock Legend. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  4. ^ a b Melhuish, Martin (1986). The Supertramp Book. Toronto, Canada: Omnibus Press. pp. 47–55. ISBN 0-9691272-2-7.
  5. ^ "Bob Siebenberg - Biography". Bob Siebenberg. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham: Rediscovery, Channeled". Premier Guitar. May 2009. Retrieved June 26, 2013.
  7. ^ "Night Life". Allmusic. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  8. ^ "Fighting". Allmusic. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  9. ^ a b "Scott Gorham – Still Proving It (interview with Tony Conley)". Rock Guitar Daily. June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
  10. ^ "Scott Gorham". Dinosaur Rock Guitar. May 28, 2008. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Thrills, Adrian (March 12, 2009). "Rock Gods Resurrected: Thin Lizzy's Guitarist Scott Gorham Is on a Mission to Keep Best Friend Phil Lynott's Memory Alive". Daily Mail.
  12. ^ "Renegade". Allmusic. Retrieved May 7, 2011.
  13. ^ "700 unreleased Thin Lizzy songs discovered". NME. January 4, 2012. Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  14. ^ "Thin Lizzy to End, Black Star Riders to Begin". December 20, 2012.
  15. ^ "Black Star Riders announce debut album title". Black Star Riders official website. March 8, 2013.
  16. ^ Marty Miller. "Scott Gorham - The "Riff Lord"! » Radio Nova". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  17. ^ "Scott Gorham – Black Star Riders is Coming Into Our Own & Standing On Our Own Two Feet!". My Global Mind. January 30, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  18. ^ "When I was in 21 Guns [Scott's post-Lizzy band], I had this condom of devices filled with blinking lights and dials that looked great but every night I'd have to walk up to it and ask, How do I turn this thing on? And if something went down you'd be in trouble because it was all daisy chained. So about 10 years ago I got sick of tap dancing on a pedal board and found this little German guy who worked at Chandlers. I was talking to him about my problems and he knew exactly what I wanted. So now I've got four 1970s Marshall amps – you can only use the seventies versions – and he's beefed them all up. Don't ask me what he's done but every once in a while he calls me and says "I have something new for you", and he'll take the back off and weld something new in there. But I'm also thinking about going back to using a few old vintage pedals like Tube Screamers as well". – Interview with Guitarist magazine, March 2006.
  19. ^ "I've been thinking about dusting off the old Les Paul for this tour [20/20 tour], because I do miss playing it. The thing about the Les Paul is it's a great guitar – looks great sounds great – but it's so ****ing heavy! It's like wheeling along a bag of cement! With the Strat, it's an extremely versatile guitar, and customisable too. It's much lighter and more conducive to my style of playing than a Les Paul." – Interview with Guitarist magazine, March 2006.
  20. ^ Abel. "Official Website of Bob Siebenberg - Supertramp Drummer - Scott Gorham".

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