Snowy White Says Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy ‘Blew It’
White joined Lizzy in 1980, after having completed touring-guitarist duties on Pink Floyd’s The Wall show. He stayed for less than three years. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he described the experience as “chaotic” and uncomfortable.
“I liked Thin Lizzy,” White said. “They were a great band. Great songs. Phil was a fantastic frontman, but I didn’t really fit properly. I think I added some stuff, though. But it wasn’t really a comfortable time. ... They wasted a lot of time in the studio. I’m not like that. I can’t sit around for hours smoking dope and stuff. I’ve never taken drugs, ever. Seeing people sit around wasting hours and hours when they’re supposed to be recording … it was difficult for me to stay engaged with it.”
He agreed it was fun to perform the band’s classic songs onstage, although he admitted he “wasn’t all that good” fitting in with their performance style. “I’m not the sort that jumps about - I did my best,” he said. “I played all the right stuff and did some good solos. … That aspect of things I enjoyed, but everything else was quite difficult.”
He noted that he would arrive at the agreed start time of 11AM for studio sessions, but Lynott wouldn’t arrive until 10PM and then work through the night. On top of the scheduling problem, he and guitarist Scott Gorham were sometimes unsure if they were working on a Thin Lizzy record or a Lynott solo project: “Scott said to me, ‘I’m fed up with this. I don’t mind playing on Phil’s album, but that’s a session. He should pay me for that.’ But it all drifted on. It was quite chaotic.”
White decided to quit after a trip to Ireland to write songs for Lizzy’s next album. “I actually said to the management, ‘If I go to Dublin and I sit around the rehearsal place for hours and then Phil turns up in the evening, that’s not going to work for me. We won’t get any work done,'" he recalled. "They go, ‘No, no. We’ve had a word and everyone is going to work hard.’ Of course, it didn’t happen like that. I was sitting around, twiddling my thumbs in Dublin.”
He remembered "when we got back home, I woke up in the morning when we were supposed to go back in the studio. I said, ‘You know what? I’m not going in. I can’t be bothered.’ And that was it. I didn’t see anyone to say goodbye to. … Management called me up and said, ‘It’s all over, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’”
The band broke up in 1983, and Lynott died three years later. Various lineups have come and gone since 1996 with the intention of preserving the frontman’s music and legacy. But White reflected of his own experiences: “They blew it, basically," he said. "I think Phil blew it. He got into drugs and he got into a situation where it seemed like he wanted to be a celebrity more than a musician. That’s how I saw it. It all became a bit too much for me.”