Thin Lizzy Almost Didn’t Release ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’
Rock history is full of stories about songs that only became hit records after a few strange twists of fate — a rich tradition that apparently includes Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town."
"Boys" eventually ended up leading off side two of the band's 1976 Jailbreak LP, which turned out pretty well for the band: The album was a Top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, giving the group its first gold record — and "The Boys Are Back in Town" ultimately went down as Thin Lizzy's biggest hit single, peaking at No. 8 in the U.K. and No. 12 in the States. But as guitarist Scott Gorham recently revealed to Classic Rock, the song almost didn't make the cut.
"Back then, you picked 10 songs and went with those because of the time restrictions of vinyl. We recorded 15 songs, and of the 10 we picked, that wasn’t one of them," he explained. "But then the management heard it and said, ‘No, there’s something really good about this song.’ Although back then, it didn’t yet have the twin guitar parts on it."
And even after management intervened, the band members didn't necessarily think much of the song. As Gorham tells it now, "We were playing in some club in the U.S. when our manager came in and said, ‘Well, looks like we’ve got a hit.’ We were like, ‘Which song?’ Seriously, we didn’t have any idea at all which song it was that had taken off for us."
"The Boys Are Back in Town" helped turn Thin Lizzy into worldwide stars, and for Gorham, the song's success remains an object lesson in "how thin the line can be that separates success from failure." It's also still a good source for self-deprecating humor: When discussing song placement with his current band the Black Star Riders, Gorham laughs, "I always say, ‘Don’t listen to me – I’m the one who thought 'The Boys Are Back in Town' shouldn’t have been a single!'"
Thin Lizzy & the Top 100 Albums of the '70s
Criminally Underrated Albums