John Sykes

John Sykes was born July 29, 1959 in Reading, Berkshire. Sykes is an English heavy metal and hard rock guitarist who is most known for playing with the bands Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Blue Murder and Tygers of Pan Tang. In his early years, he was in a band called Badlands, along with bassist Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath). This band is not the same Badlands that Jake E. Lee was in.

John Sykes with Tygers of Pan Tang

John wrote and recorded a large part of Whitesnake's 1987 self titled album. This album has sold over ten million copies, in the United States, and paved the way for Whitesnake to gain worldwide fame. After recording the album, Whitesnake vocalist David Coverdale fired everyone in the band, including Sykes, and decided to turn the band into a supergroup, before the tour.

John Sykes with Whitesnake 1984 - Solo - "Crying in the Rain"

After Sykes was fired, he formed the band Blue Murder, which featured drummer Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice) and bassist Tony Franklin (The Firm). In Blue Murder, Sykes handled the guitar duties and after some persuasion decided to become the band's lead vocalist as well. However, after one successful release (and a couple of forgettable ones), the band all but faded away. He then began performing under his own name.

John Sykes with Blue Murder 1987

In the mid-nineties, Sykes reformed the band Thin Lizzy along with Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, and Darren Wharton. John was now fronting the band, due to the fact that Phil Lynott had died more than ten years earlier. While touring with Thin Lizzy, a live recording called "One Night Only" was released.

John Sykes in Thin Lizzy w/ Phil Lynott

In 2004, he recorded "Bad Boy Live!", which featured the greatest hits from Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake, Blue Murder, and his solo work. Through the years, Sykes has made many guest appearances, one of which was the Glenn Hughes / Joe Lynn Turner Project and later Derek Sherinian's solo album "Mythology".

In 2006, Gibson began making an "Inspired By" Gibson Les Paul Custom which was modeled to look like Sykes main guitar. There were two versions created, an aged look and a standard model, both guitars sold out fast. On June 7, 2009, Sykes announced he was parting ways with Thin Lizzy because he wanted to begin playing his own music again.

John Sykes Gear

John has pretty much used the same guitar for twenty years; a 1978 model Gibson Les Paul Custom. He replaced the Gibson tuners with Grover tuners and added a brass nut. Current fret wire is medium jumbo size, with very low action.

He also has used a 1959 Les Paul Sunburst, most notably, on the "Loveland" recording.

For recording clean guitar parts, John prefers to use his 1961 Fender Stratocaster. The guitar was used in the recording of the Whitesnake hit, "Is This Love".

For strings, he uses "Regular Slinkys" or "Reinforced Plain Steel" gauged at .010 to .046

Pick Ups
Initially, the 1978 model Gibson Les Paul Custom had a "Dirty Fingers" pickup in the bridge position, but after years of wear, the pickup began to malfunction and John replaced it with a lower output Gibson PAF re-issue pickup.

Concert Rig
For more than a decade, Sykes simply plugged directly into a 50 watt JCM 800 Marshall head, which ran into one Marshall 4X12 cabinet. His speaker cabinets include, Marshall 4x12 cabinets, Mesa Boogie metal grill "Half Back" 4x12 cabinets, Mesa Boogie 4x12 Recto cabinets and custom made 4x12 cabinets.

Recording Rig
Two Mesa Boogie Coliseum heads were used to record both the Whitesnake and Blue Murder records. The pre-amp section of these amps feature six 6L6 power tubes, which give the amps 180 watts a piece. In addition, Sykes also owns Mesa Boogie Mark III's, Mark IIC+'s, Tri-Axis pre-amp, Strategy 500 Power Amp, as well as additional mounted Mesa Dual Recto heads.

Mesa Boogie Dual Recto head, a Mesa Boogie Tri-Axis Preamp, a Mesa Boogie IIC+ head, a Mesa Boogie Strategy 500 Power Amp, a rackmounted Dunlop Crybaby, a Lexicon PCM 41, a Lexicon PCM 70, and an H&H V800 Power Amp

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Tygers Of Pan Tang
Crazy Nights (1981)
Live At Nottingham Rock City (1981)
Spellbound (1981)

Thin Lizzy
Thunder and Lightning (1983)
Thin Lizzy - BBC Radio One Live In Concert (1983)
Life (1983)
One Night Only (2000)

Phil Lynott
Live In Sweden 1983 (1983)

Slide It In (1984)
Whitesnake (1987)

Blue Murder
Blue Murder (1989)
Nothin' But Trouble (1993)
Screaming Blue Murder (1994)

Solo Releases
Please Don't Leave Me (1982)
Out Of My Tree (1995)
I Don't Wanna Live My Life Like You (1995)
Loveland (1997)
20th Century (1997)
Chapter One (1998)
Best of John Sykes (2000)
Nuclear Cowboy (2000)
Bad Boy Live! (2004)