I am a big fan of John Sykes. It was the Whitesnake 1987 album that had me converted. It was very guitar heavy and I loved it. I was dismayed when I found out he got fired from the band before the album was released. I couldn’t even stand to watch Adrian Vandenberg and Vivian Campbell pose around like they where the creators of the music.
So I started to ask people about John Sykes and no one could answer me. This is in 1988. There was no Google. There was no internet. You had to find out this information by yourself. I then picked up a magazine of Metal Edge and I saw the information I needed. Metal Edge was sold in Australia for $10, so it was an expensive purchase.
The article spoke about John Sykes and his new band, Blue Murder. It also mentioned his beginnings. Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy.
The record shop was next door to the newsagent. I went in and of course in the hard rock / heavy metal section there was no Thin Lizzy album that had John Sykes playing on it. Nor did it have any Tygers of Pan Tang. Regardless I was on a mission to find out more. That is how super fans are made. We needed to know more about the artists we liked, so we went searching, we asked people, we spread their name. I asked the lady at the counter if she can tell me what albums John Sykes played on with Thin Lizzy and Tygers of Pan Tang. She gave me this look. Was I speaking a different language apart from English. I mentioned the album, Whitesnake. I pulled it from the hard rock section to show her the guitarist. She answered back, “who cares, he is only the guitarist. He doesn’t even matter.” Doesn’t matter. I go to her, “what instrument makes music”. She answers back “the guitar”. Enough said. I knew I was going to get anywhere with her.
Imagine my surprise when my cousin Mega called me to tell me he picked up Tygers Of Pan Tang – Spellbound and Thin Lizzy – Thunder and Lightning for me for $5 each from a second-hand record shop and that John Sykes plays on those albums. I was on the train to Sydney (a 90 minute journey) in a heartbeat.
Cold Sweat. It’s written by John Sykes and Phil Lynott. It’s the only one on the album that has a John Sykes co-write. The riff is heavy and sleazy. Phil Lynott’s vocals reek of desperation. It was like he really owed some money to a mafia style bookie. The lead section from John Sykes, confirmed my suspicions. He wasn’t plucked from out of nowhere by David Coverdale, he was paying his dues. He nails so many different styles, and also makes it sound human.
Stone cold sober and stone cold sweat running down the back of my neck.
The Thin Lizzy influence on John Sykes would re-surface in later years, especially the Phil Lynott style of lyric writing and vocal line delivery. We All Fall Down from Blue Murder’s – Nothing But Trouble comes to mind immediately.
Here it now. Revisit a classic song.