THE boys are back in town.

Thin Lizzy’s iconic frontman Phil Lynott may have died in 1986 but the hard rockers are back for Rewind North festival in August.

Since 1994 the band have returned every couple of years for one-off shows to commemorate milestones in the group’s career.

This is a particularly special moment as it is 50 years since Thin Lizzy formed.

But no one was more surprised about the ‘boys’ getting back together than guitarist Scott Gorham.

He said: “At the back-end of 1993, John Sykes kept calling and calling about reforming the band.

“I kept saying: ‘No, that’s not going to happen. Phil’s not in the band. I don’t see the point’.

“Finally on the fourth phone call he said he had played a couple of songs in Tokyo.

“Before that the audience were pretty sedate but when he got going with the Thin Lizzy songs the audience tore the roof off.

“I was trying to wrap my head around that as it’d been a while since Thin Lizzy had been out there and I didn’t think anyone would remember us.”

Before he knew it Scott had been convinced to do a ‘one-off’ tour of Japan which inadvertently caused an uproar.

Scott added: “When we got home, letters had been pouring in to the fan club president saying: ‘We were the people that supported you all these years and you go out and do a tour half way across the world’.

“I could see where they were coming from so the following year we did a tour in the UK and Europe.

Winsford Guardian:

“Things kept coming in and people kept wanting to hear the music so we kind of kept it going.”

Scott, however, is protective of the original Thin Lizzy legacy.

That is why the new Thin Lizzy line-up are not releasing any new material – lead singer Ricky Warwick and Scott instead write new songs with their band Black Star Riders – and only play occasional gigs.

Scott, who joined Thin Lizzy in 1974, said: “There has to be a bonafide reason to bring Thin Lizzy out.

“This year it’s the 40th anniversary of Nightlife and 45th anniversary of Black Rose. It’s also more than 30 years since Phil passed. It’s time.

“I want to pay homage to my friend to make sure he’s never forgotten. I know that sounds a little weird but I loved the man. He helped so much.

“So I make sure every few years we go out and do this.

“Plus it’s great fun when we’re doing it. I still love playing these songs.

“The guys that get up with me are huge fans of Thin Lizzy and they love getting up and playing it. I look at the audience and they love hearing it so we’re all having a party together.”

Scott said it was bittersweet continuing Thin Lizzy without Phil.

He added: “I would so love to have Phil back and have him centre stage giving me that evil grin all night long.

“But I’ve got the next best thing in Ricky Warwick.

“The guy is an amazing singer and charismatic frontman and that’s why he fronts Thin Lizzy now.

“I think if Phil was around now, he’d be really proud of Ricky and the kind of guy he is and what he can do.”

Scott, who grew up in California, joined Thin Lizzy after an audition in 1974.

The band were in a bit of a crisis at that point as guitarist Eric Bell suddenly left the band on New Year’s Eve 1973.

Scott and guitarist Brian Robertson were both hired at the same time and marked the beginning of the band’s most critically successful period, where they developed Thin Lizzy’s twin lead guitar style.

Scott said: “They’d had their hit with Whiskey in the Jar something like 18 months before I even came to England.

“They didn’t have a big follow-up or anything like that and Eric Bell ended up quitting the band.

“Brian Downey and Phil wanted to carry on and they held auditions.

Winsford Guardian:

“I had a six-month visa and I’d already been in the country for five months.

“I had 30 days before I was ready to get on the plane to LA.”

Scott’s first impressions of Thin Lizzy was that the name was ‘dumb’ and he did not really know what ‘Irish rock’ meant.

“But I thought I’ve got 30 days left on my visa. I want to play with as many people as I can before I go home,” he added.

“The audition was in Hampstead at this African supper club and the first person I met walking down this dark hallway was Phil.

“I looked at him and it was this black guy talking to me with this really broad Irish accent.

“I thought this day is getting really weird.

“But he was great. He was really engaging and enthusiastic and had a lot of energy to him.

“Brian would show me some songs and I’d barely get through them.

“But Phil asked for my phone number and called me that night to join Thin Lizzy.

“They sounded so great in that rehearsal hall.

“I knew after the second song I really wanted in on this thing...”

Rewind North festival will be held at Capesthorne Hall from August 3 to 5. Visit north.rewindfestival.com

DAVID MORGAN