It can be argued that Thin Lizzy are one of – if not the – greatest twin-Les Paul rock bands in history. And over the years they have been home to a number of superlative axemen, including guitar legends Gary Moore, Brian Robertson and John Sykes. Yet through their various incarnations over the years, both before and after singer-bassist Phil Lynott’s untimely passing, the most steady guitar presence in Thin Lizzy was, and remains, California-born Scott Gorham. Gorham sat down with between Thin Lizzy shows to discuss their current tour, his joy of co-shredding this time around with current Def Leppard guitarist (and fellow Les Paul aficionado) Vivian Campbell, and just what makes the Les Paul the hands-down king of electric guitars.

How is the new Thin Lizzy tour going?

I’m actually experiencing a new sensation on this tour and it’s called “fun”. Our U.K. leg was a near sell-out. The European leg is following the same route, and the guys in this band are kicking. Now that’s a good combination for a great tour.

You’ve played with so many great guitarists over the years, how has it been playing with another legendary Les Paul guitarist (and life-long Thin Lizzy fan) Vivian Campbell?

Playing alongside Viv is just pure pleasure. We both found out on the first day of rehearsal that our guitar styles gel really well.  Even down to the way we both use vibrato. Viv’s tone is pure gold and great to listen to night after night. I think both of us are more feel type players rather than relying on pure speed. Thin Lizzy hasn’t had a two Les Paul attack in years, and after hearing it again, I keep asking myself, “Why?” So, when we get right down to it, I’m having a great time out here with Viv.

Did you reach out to any previous Thin Lizzy guitarists before bringing Vivian in?

You know, I did put in a courtesy call to Brian Robertson to see how he was feeling and what his thoughts were on playing the songs again on tour. I got the feeling that he’d had enough of the high profile spotlight and that he’d just finished his new solo album and had a real need to concentrate on promoting that. And, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. I really wish him all the best. He’s a good guy.

What can you say about the job Ricky Warwick is doing on vocals?

You know, I just can’t say enough good things about Ricky. He’s everything I thought he was going to be in Thin Lizzy, and then he goes and adds even more. The other day at sound check I put my guitar down and went out front while he was doing some acoustic things and some singing, and I was once again struck by how talented and charismatic this guy really is. Ricky Warwick is one very cool guy. You’ve got to love it. He and I have just been talking about writing together, and with him being such a talented writer, I can’t wait to get stuck into that.

Going back a bit, you were born in California. Who were your musical influences growing up?

All my main influences came out of the U.K. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Traffic, Peter Green and Danny Kirwan, Paul Kossoff, Dave Gilmour, Joe Walsh (yeah I know, he’s American) and no list is complete without Jimi Hendrix (U.S. I know, I know!). This list could potentially go on for [expletive] ever! There were so many great players that came out of that era, we were spoiled for choice. It was a great musical time to grow up in.

When did you first start playing guitar?

My dad, of all people, bought me my first guitar. A $40 Sears and Roebuck nylon string acoustic. A real piece of crap, but what the hell did I know, I was 9. But I didn’t really start playing till I was 13 and that was after I saw my first live show, a junior high after school dance where the Original Continentals were playing. I just stood at the side of the stage hypnotized trying to figure out how these guys made this great music. The very next day me and two friends started our own band, The Jesters, and only one guy in the band actually knew how to play, so he ended up teaching me the how, when’s and why’s of playing. And just enough to make a passable noise. 13-years old and having a blast.

Did you formally study the guitar or are you mainly self-taught?

Unfortunately I was self-taught. I only say unfortunately because I now know a load of guys who have gone down the schooled road and have since realized how much quicker it was for them to learn and understand what they needed to know. I would recommend some sort of taught method to anyone wanting to play an instrument. But then again, I guess I haven’t done too bad for being a no-talent bonehead self-taught guitar player.

What is it about the Gibson Les Paul that you have always found so appealing?

Very obvious things. The feel and the sound. There’s something very precision-like with a Gibson Les Paul that no other guitar can give you. And with that precision comes the feel along with the great sound. I really tried to find that same thing with the Strats that I played for a few years, but I kept being drawn back to my Les Pauls.  I’m a definite bona-fide Les Paul guy. What can I tell you?

Do you remember your first Gibson Les Paul (and do you still own it)?

When I first joined Thin Lizzy, the only guitar I owned was a Japanese Les Paul copy. I had sold my Fender Strat to Rodger Hodgson of Supertramp. So, first thing Phil says to me is “We gotta buy you a proper guitar man!” So he and I (and a budget!) went down to Denmark Street in London to buy a proper guitar. I kept picking up Gibson Les Paul Standards and Gibson Customs, and he’d keep shaking his head saying we didn’t have enough money to buy those models. So I spotted the Les Paul Deluxe, he didn’t shake his head, I played it, and we bought it. I did the first 3 albums with that guitar. It was a good guitar. I actually don’t have it anymore – it was stolen out of an office in New York City while doing the 21 Guns album.

Can you tell us about the Gibson Les Paul Axcess Standard you’ve been playing on this tour?

I have a real love affair going on with my new Gibson Les Paul Axcess. To have a Les Paul that gives you everything you want out of a Gibson, but with the extra added addition of a Floyd Rose system, is fantastic. You instantly have the best of both worlds at your fingertips. Plus, they’ve sculpted the back edge so you don’t suffer the bruised ribs after a near 2 hour show. The Gibson Custom crews have also chambered my guitar which makes it much lighter than almost any Gibson on the market. I really love this guitar – so much so that I’m getting a second one as soon as possible. You gotta try this guitar!

For Thin Lizzy’s World Tour dates, please visit:

For more information on the Gibson Les Paul Axcess Standard, click here

Photo Credit: John Rahim