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 67)
Glendale, California
Genres Rock, blues-rock, hard rock, heavy metal, Progressive Rock
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Labels Vertigo
Associated acts Thin 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.

Thin Lizzy Irish rock band

Thin Lizzy are a hard rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1969. Two of the founding members, drummer Brian Downey and bass guitarist and lead vocalist Phil Lynott, met while still in school. Lynott led the group throughout their recording career of twelve studio albums, writing most of the material. The singles "Whiskey in the Jar", "Jailbreak", and "The Boys Are Back in Town" were major international hits. After Lynott's death in 1986, various incarnations of the band emerged over the years based initially around guitarists Scott Gorham and John Sykes, though Sykes left the band in 2009. Gorham later continued with a new line-up including Downey.

Eric Bell Musician, songwriter

Eric Robin Bell is a Northern Irish rock and blues musician, best known as a founder member and the original guitarist of the rock group Thin Lizzy. After his time in Thin Lizzy, he briefly fronted his own group before joining The Noel Redding Band in the mid-1970s. He has since released several solo albums and performs regularly with a blues-based trio, the Eric Bell Band.

Gary Moore Northern Ireland guitarist, songwriter and record producer

Robert William Gary Moore was a Northern Irish rock guitarist and singer-songwriter.


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.

Black Star Riders band

Black Star Riders is a hard rock band formed in December 2012. The band is fronted by Ricky Warwick, and features guitarists Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson, and bass guitarist Robbie Crane. Drummer and founding member Jimmy DeGrasso left the band in March 2017, and was replaced a few weeks later by Chad Szeliga. Johnson will leave the band at the end of the year to be replaced by Christian Martucci.


Early years

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]

Glendale, California City in California, United States

Glendale is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Its estimated 2014 population was 200,167, making it the third largest city in Los Angeles County and the 23rd-largest city in California. It is located about 8 mi (13 km) north of downtown Los Angeles.

Bass guitar Electric bass instrument

The bass guitar is a stringed instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings or courses.

Robert Layne Siebenberg also known as Bob C. Benberg, is an American musician, best known as a member of British progressive rock band Supertramp, playing drums and percussion. He was the sole American in Supertramp's lineup. His son, Jesse, joined Supertramp at the time of the release of the live album It Was the Best of Times.

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.

Supertramp British band

Supertramp are an English rock band formed in London in 1969. Though their music was initially categorised as progressive rock, they later incorporated a combination of traditional rock, pop and art rock into their music.

Phil Lynott Irish singer-songwriter and musician, founding member of Thin Lizzy

Philip Parris Lynott was an Irish musician and songwriter. His most commercially successful group was Thin Lizzy, of which he was a founding member, the principal songwriter, lead vocalist and bassist. He was known for his distinctive plectrum-based style on the bass, and for his imaginative lyrical contributions including working class tales and numerous characters drawn from personal influences and Celtic culture.

Brian Robertson (guitarist) musician, songwriter

Brian David Robertson is a Scottish rock guitarist, best known as a member of Thin Lizzy and Motörhead.

Thin Lizzy

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

<i>Nightlife</i> (Thin Lizzy album) album by Thin Lizzy

Nightlife is the fourth studio album by Irish band Thin Lizzy, released in 1974. It was produced by Ron Nevison and bandleader Phil Lynott, and was the first album to feature the band as a quartet with newcomers Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson on guitars.

<i>Fighting</i> (Thin Lizzy album) Thin Lizzy album

Fighting is the fifth studio album by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1975. Following the release of four studio albums, the band finally forged an identifiable sound featuring the twin guitars of Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. This sound draws from hard rock, folk, pop and rhythm and blues. It set the stage for the big commercial breakthrough of the follow-up album, Jailbreak. The album was also their first album to chart in the UK, hitting No. 60.

<i>Jailbreak</i> (album) album

Jailbreak is the sixth studio album by Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy, released in 1976. It proved to be the band's commercial breakthrough in the US, and the only Thin Lizzy album with a certification in that country. The singles include "Jailbreak" and "The Boys Are Back in Town", the latter being Thin Lizzy's biggest US hit, winning the 1976 NME Award for Best Single.

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.

<i>Black Rose: A Rock Legend</i> album by Thin Lizzy

Black Rose: A Rock Legend is the ninth studio album by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. Released in 1979, it has been described as one of the band's "greatest, most successful albums".

Heroin chemical compound

Heroin, also known as diamorphine among other names, is an opioid most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Medically it is used in several countries to relieve pain or in opioid replacement therapy. Heroin is typically injected, usually into a vein; however, it can also be smoked, snorted or inhaled. The onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.

Snowy White English guitarist, musician and songwriter

Terence Charles "Snowy" White is an English guitarist, known for having played with Thin Lizzy and with Pink Floyd and, more recently, for Roger Waters' band. He is also known for his 1983 solo offering "Bird of Paradise", which became a UK Singles Chart Top 10 hit single.

Phenomena II and 21 Guns

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

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

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

Initially, Gorham used a Gibson Les Paul Deluxe guitar with mini humbuckers. He then bought a '59 Les Paul in Boston, 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

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]


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  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. 1 2 Melhuish, Martin (1986). The Supertramp Book. Toronto, Canada: Omnibus Press. pp. 47–55. ISBN   0-9691272-2-7.
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  14. "Thin Lizzy to End, Black Star Riders to Begin". 20 December 2012.
  15. "Black Star Riders announce debut album title". Black Star Riders official website. 8 March 2013.
  16. Marty Miller. "Scott Gorham - The "Riff Lord"! » Radio Nova". Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  17. "Scott Gorham – Black Star Riders is Coming Into Our Own & Standing On Our Own Two Feet!". My Global Mind. 30 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 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".