How Thin Lizzy’s ‘Thunder and Lightning’ Became Their Unintended Goodbye
On March 4, 1983, Thin Lizzy released what became their final studio LP, Thunder and Lightning. Two years earlier, band leader Phil Lynott brought in guitarist John Sykes to replace Snowy White and join the core lineup of Lynott, guitarist Scott Gorham and the ever-loyal Brian Downey on drums.
Sykes' style and approach was somewhat heavier than his predecessor's, and producer Chris Tsangarides pushed Thin Lizzy toward a more contemporary sound. The combination resulted in a more metal style, which hasn't aged nearly as well as the band's more classic LPs. That being said, 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, this would be the final studio LP from the great band. Thin Lizzy toured in support of Thunder and Lightning, and though their live shows were as full-on as ever, times were changing and the band were trying to adjust. Phil Lynott was growing more and more frustrated with various aspects of keeping the band rolling. That, along with a growing heroin problem for Lynott, proved too much.
By year's end, he pulled the plug on the band. Within three years, the substance issues Lynott had been fighting would catch up with him and claim his life.