Although he wasn't an original member of Thin Lizzy, Scott Gorham was the longest-lasting guitarist in the band's lineup. While his melodic and finely structured dual leads with whoever happened to be Lizzy's second guitarist at the time (and the list is loooong) proved to be highly influential and oft-copied by subsequent rock bands. Born on March 17, 1951, Gorham grew up in Glendale, CA, where he picked up a guitar and began playing in rock bands as a teenager. He befriended drummer Bob Siebenberg, who then relocated in the early '70s to England and found success with prog rock popsters Supertramp. He then recommended Gorham fly out to England in 1974 to try out for Supertramp, who at the time was considering adding another guitarist, but by the time he arrived, the group decided they wanted to go with a sax player instead.
Stuck in England, Gorham began playing pubs in the East End of London with a group he'd put together called Fast Buck, while a mutual acquaintance forwarded Gorham's name to Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzy. Although the group (led by bassist/singer Phil Lynott) had already scored a hit with a cover of "Whiskey in the Jar" and released several albums, Lizzy remained quite obscure worldwide and had problems holding onto guitarists.
Lynott decided that for Lizzy's next lineup, they would try something different and enlist a pair of guitarists. Gorham got the gig after a single tryout, and was joined by teenaged Scottish guitarist Brian Robertson. It took Lizzy's new dual-guitar lineup (and overall sound/direction) a little time to truly gel, as evidenced by the quartet's first couple of unfocused albums together -- 1974's Night Life and 1975's Fighting. But by 1976's Jailbreak, everything fell into place. The album spawned one of rock's most enduring and instant anthems, "The Boys Are Back in Town," as the group finally came to the conclusion that they were a rock band, turned the amps up to ten, and let it rip. Robertson and Gorham would begin to perfect their dual-lead approach with this album, as it and the aforementioned single proved to be hits worldwide.
Further albums throughout the '70s cemented Lizzy's standing as one of hard rock's top acts -- their second release of 1976, Johnny the Fox, 1977's Bad Reputation, and arguably their finest moment (and one of rock's all-time best live albums) 1978's Live and Dangerous. To sample Gorham's tasty guitar playing, Live and Dangerous is the place to start, as he easily alternates between heartfelt ("Still in Love With You") and fiery six-string heroics ("Emerald"). Robertson left Lizzy shortly thereafter, replaced by an earlier member, Gary Moore. Although the guitar team of Moore and Gorham showed great promise on 1979's classic Black Rose, hard living began to take its toll on bandmembers, as Moore abruptly left mid-tour and was subsequently replaced by a revolving door of guitarists. During the holiday season of 1979, Lynott and Gorham joined forces with former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook for a one-off side project, dubbed the Greedy Bastards -- issuing the lone single "A Merry Jingle."
With both Gorham and Lynott struggling with drug addiction, Lizzy's albums began to slip in quality by the dawn of the '80s (1980's Chinatown, 1981's Renegade, and 1983's Thunder and Lightning), and although they were often sighted as a major influence by the up and coming New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, etc.) as well as U.S. thrash metallists Metallica, they couldn't keep pace. Lizzy decided to call it a day after a farewell tour wrapped up at the end of 1983 (Gorham had previously told Lynott that he had to quit the band because his health was suffering), and while Gorham was able to successfully conquer his demons, Lynott was not as lucky, dying in January of 1986.
After the breakup of Lizzy and Lynott's passing, Gorham guested on other artist's albums, including his old pals Supertramp (the album Brother Where You Bound), and as part of an all-star metal lineup on the release N.W.O.B.H.M., among others. By the early '90s, Gorham was ready to resurface with another new rock band, 21 Guns, who issued a pair of underappreciated albums (1992's Salute and 1997's Nothing's Real) before splitting up. With Lizzy's popularity rising once again in the late '90s (a whole new generation of rock fans was turned on to the group when such acts as Metallica and the Smashing Pumpkins covered their songs), Gorham and several other ex-members decided to resuscitate the Thin Lizzy name and tour the world once again, issuing a live set (One Night Only) on the CMC International label in 2000.