Damon Johnson Reflects On His Decision To Leave Alice Cooper And Join Thin Lzzy


Thin Lizzy guitarist Damon Johnson spoke to Ryan Roxie and told the story of how he joined the band while playing for Alice Cooper. The musician shared exclusive details about his departure.

Damon Johnson became Alice Cooper’s guitarist in 2004. He took place in his seventeenth studio album entitled ‘Dirty Diamonds,’ released on July 4, 2005, in Europe, and on August 2 in the US. Johnson continued touring with the musician until 2007.

Then, Johnson left Cooper to focus on the new band, Whiskey Falls, until 2009, when he returned to Cooper’s band. His last tour with them was in 2011 when he joined a band that he has been a massive fan of, Thin Lizzy. During his interview, the guitarist stated that he met with Scott Gorham while playing golf with him and Cooper.

Then, Gorham wanted to listen to his solo works, so he gave him a CD of ‘Slave to the System.’ Johnson drew the Thin Lizzy icon’s attention because he wanted to recruit him as the new guitarist after Richard Fortus left the band in 2011.

Johnson stated in his interview that:

“Not ironically, I met Scott Gorham in 2006 on a London golf course with one Alice Cooper. I guess I was networking a little bit. Scott and I hit it off; he was like, ‘What else do you do besides play with Alice?’ I had put a CD together. He asked me, ‘Will you mail me that CD? I’ve got a radio show. I’ll play it on the show.’ This was the ‘Slave to the System.’

I sent it to him, and sure enough, he’s playing it. We email back and forth, and in 2009, when I came back to Cooper after Whiskey Falls, I invited Scott to Hammersmith to see the Alice Cooper show. He came to that, and then two years later, there was a bill in Dublin, Ireland, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, and Thin Lizzy.

What I didn’t know is, at that moment, Richard Fortus, the great and mega-talented Richard Fortus, was playing in Thin Lizzy with Scott at that time; he was about to have to go back to Guns N’ Roses.

He later revealed that one of the main reasons the band hired him was Tommy Henricksen’s reminding them of the guitarist being a Thin Lizzy fanboy. The group watched his performance during their concert in Helsinki, which became his audition.

Later, the manager revealed that Thin Lizzy wanted him in the band, but he hesitated to accept because he didn’t want to let Cooper down right before his Australia concert. However, his wife stated that he would regret it if he didn’t do it, so with Cooper’s blessings, he joined the band as their new guitar player.

Johnson added:

“Tommy Henricksen, the lord that he is, was standing in the hallway talking to Richard, and Richard told Tommy was about to split and that Lizzy was going to need a guitar player. I could hear Tommy in that East Coast accent, ‘You guys should get Johnson; he knows those ten Lizzy songs better than anybody.’ 

I saw Scott that night; we took a photo. Brian Downey, the drummer, the legend from Lizzy, was there. I was thrilled to meet Brian. The next week, Alice does a show supporting Iron Maiden at the soccer stadium in Helsinki. The Lizzy guys came to the show because they had the night off, and they were going to play the next night.”

He continued:

That was my audition. They were all at the soundboard. After the gig, their manager came over and said, ‘Hey, your name is getting tossed around. What do you think?’ I just went, ‘Oh my god, that would be incredible, I’d be thrilled, but I can’t do that, man.’

Cooper is going to Australia, putting a wrinkle in the Cooper situation. I can’t cause a problem like that. So, we flew back home after that run, and it was my wife Linda; she goes, ‘If you don’t pursue this Thin Lizzy thing, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life.'”

You can check out the interview below.