How Thin Lizzy’s ‘Thunder and Lightning’ Became Their Unintended Goodbye
Phil Lynott brought in guitarist John Sykes to replace Snowy White in the early-'80s run up to Thin Lizzy's Thunder and Lightning, resetting their sound around the core lineup of guitarist Scott Gorham and ever-loyal drummer Brian Downey.
Sykes' style and approach was somewhat heavier than his predecessor's, and producer Chris Tsangarides pushed Thin Lizzy toward a more contemporary esthetic. The combination resulted in a metal-leaning style which hasn't aged nearly as well as the band's more classic LPs. Still, Thunder and Lightning is hardly a dud.
The title track comes barreling out pile-driver-style. Written by Lynott and Downey, it's a raucous opener for the LP with some guitar fireworks from Sykes. "This Is the One" and "Cold Sweat" are prime heavy-riffing Lizzy, while "The Sun Goes Down" is a haunting mid-tempo number.
On "Holy War," they unconvincingly mix in a bit of funk to the recipe, but out-and-out killers like "Baby Please Don't Go" and "Bad Habits" more than make up for the misstep. Sykes guitar blazes throughout and makes it known that Lizzy were as contemporary as the new breed of hard rockers roaming around at the time.
Sadly, Thunder and Lightning arrived on March 4, 1983, as the final studio LP from the great band. Thin Lizzy toured in support of the LP, and their live shows were as full-on as ever. But times were changing and the band struggled to adjust.
Phil Lynott was also growing more and more frustrated with leading the group, with also battling a growing heroin problem. It all proved to be too much. By year's end, he'd pulled the plug on Thin Lizzy. Within three years, the substance issues Lynott had been fighting would catch up with him and claim his life.