MOST teenagers get the chance to see their favourite artist on stage.

But very few have the opportunity to actually join the band themselves.

That was what happened to Damon Johnson after he first saw Thin Lizzy when he was just 15. After building up a career working alongside the likes of Alice Cooper, he joined the rock band six years ago.

He told Weekend: “I saw Thin Lizzy play when I was 15 and it just kind of changed my life. I’d not seen anyone like Phil Lynott ever and standing to his left was Scott Gorham with his long hair and Les Paul.

"It just blew my mind. If there’s a perfect example of what it takes to look like a rock star it’s Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham so it’s just mental to think that I was asked to join that band and work closely with Scott.”

Damon has been living the dream since but when Scott began to talk about recording new material no one was entirely comfortable with labelling it as Thin Lizzy.

That is because no music has been released by the band since the death of original frontman Phil Lynott in 1986. So Scott, singer Ricky Warwick and Damon decided to start a new band called Black Star Riders which is something of a spiritual successor to the group.

Damon, 53, added: “Scott spoke often about the desire to write new music and going into the studio to record some stuff.

“For a short period he thought maybe it’s a Thin Lizzy album.

“None of us were sure but when that first batch of songs started coming together we could tell there was some great material there.

“We were fortunate to put a good team around us. We’ve got good management and a good record company. It was a well-orchestrated endeavour but all the while we had no idea what people were going to think.

“So it was very fulfilling to us to get this great feedback when our debut album, All Hell Breaks Loose, was released in 2013.”

Damon attributes their success to putting their egos on the shelf.

He said: “There’s no question that everyone’s experience is a key factor in the success of this band on stage, off stage, in the studio. Everyone’s been through so much in their individual careers so there’s a certain level of respect between the five of us.

“I don’t think any of us saw ourselves in such a productive, fulfilling situation as this at this point in our careers.

“We won’t take that for granted. Ricky and I are pretty prolific songwriters. We’ve been writers in every band that we’ve been a part of so we’re always grabbing a guitar and sending ideas back and forth.

“Scott gets excited when he hears some of the things we’re coming up with. He always good at coming in with a couple of monster guitar riffs. Robbie and Chad are very creative and have tonnes of ideas as well.

“I think the key word is chemistry. The history books are littered with examples of bands that came together loaded with talent and ambition but they didn’t have the ability to work together and solve problems.

“We’ve all been in other bands that have been difficult. There are ego clashes and jostling for position from time to time.

“We know what the other side feels like so the fact we get on so great on a personal level makes it all a pleasure.”

Before his time with Thin Lizzy and Black Star Riders, Damon built a reputation as a songwriter for huge artists like Santana and Stevie Nicks.

But his highlight was co-writing the album, Dirty Diamonds, with Alice Cooper.

Damon added: “It was certainly an incredible experience to be in a room with Alice Cooper and observe him be that guy that had written all these amazing songs.

“To get a front row seat to that and be involved was a big boost to my confidence. My time spent with him was the perfect precursor to my time in Thin Lizzy. I don’t know that I would have been ready for Thin Lizzy if it wasn’t for that. It made me a better performer, guitarist and songwriter.”

So what is Alice like off stage?

Damon said: “He’s just one of us in every way. He loves to watch TV and eat a lot of candy, he loves sport, he loves to shop and he certainly loves his golf.

“More important than that he’s crazy about his family. He’s a great role model in so many ways and to this day my wife and kids are very close with Alice and his family. We think the world of them.”

Black Star Riders perform at the Parr Hall on Friday, November 10. Visit