“Phil wasn’t supposed to die at all. He was pretty much the Iron Man,” remembers guitarist Scott Gorham.
It will be 35 years next month since Thin Lizzy frontman Phil Lynott tragically died from heart failure, and yet his legacy is still very much alive.
The documentary film Songs for While I’m Away offers insights into the life and music of one of Ireland’s greatest rock stars, and will be released on St Stephen’s Day.
The Dublin native penned iconic floor fillers such as The Boys are Back in Town and Dancing in the Moonlight, but one of the few people to know him up close and personal was Gorham – one of the band’s twin lead guitarists – from California.
Reflecting on their at-times wild lifestyle together, Gorham recalls how the band’s charismatic frontman seemed able to ‘come out smelling of roses every time’.
“When he went into the hospital I figured it was just a blip on the radar, but then three hours later I got another call to say he was gone… and that was a real sledgehammer to the face, that one,” he says, recalling Lynott’s death, aged 36, on January 4, 1986.
The pair went through a lot together, and Gorham was by Lynott’s side when he finally met his estranged father, Cecil Parris, in London for the first time.
“‘Phil didn’t want to meet him on his own and he told me, ‘I’ve asked this guy down to the BBC studios, but I really want you in the room because I don’t know what’s going to happen’.
“We were recording when his father walked in looking super fly and dressed in a white, three-piece suit with white patent leather shoes and a white hat. Phil and I just looked at each other as if to almost say, ‘What the f*** is that?’
“I couldn’t believe it, and the whole thing was really uncomfortable,” he adds.
“I thought if I got out of the room at least these two men could have a dialogue. So I started to get up and Phil grabbed me and gave me a look, but I told him to sit and have a chat.
“I walked out, and literally 10 minutes later this guy came storming out the door and that was the end of that.
"I think Phil pretty much told him to f*** off, and that he didn’t need him now because he had never needed him before.”
Despite the issues with his father, he says the legendary bassist and vocalist was overjoyed to become a father himself, and was besotted by his two daughters, Sarah and Kathleen.
“He truly loved both the girls immensely. I remember when Sarah was born in Dublin, Phil bought two boxes of cigars and we walked up and down all of Grafton Street hitting every single pub and handing out cigars with ‘It’s a girl’ worded on the band.
“He just let everybody know – hey, I’m a dad, and this is the greatest thing ever!”
Lynott went on to write two songs in his daughters’
honour, each of which separately bore their name in the title.
“It let them know that although he wasn’t always around because we were on the road or in the studios a lot, it really shows the kind of father he wanted to be – not could be, but the way he wished it could be.”
Gorham added: “Women loved Phil and he loved women. He was a real engaging kind of guy, and the ladies loved that.”
Songs for While I’m Away will be released in Irish cinemas on December 26.