One never needs to ask what kind of music Motorhead played. The Late Great Lemmy announced every night “We are Motorhead and we play Rock N’ Roll” They Rarely deviated from the Brutal assault of “Everything Louder”, and when they did it was spectacular on its own.
I find something highly valuable that from the first record on Bronze to the last record they made, Much like AC/DC they found what worked and stuck with it. It also never got old. It was never “formula”, it was Identity. Lemmy had already lived quite a life.
Bastard” but wiser thought prevailed as no one would put that name on Television.
I found out about Motorhead in 1984 after a quick discussion with the fellows a few years older than I, as we were driving to my first Rock concert. “Fastway” was opening for RUSH and I was schooled quickly that this was Fast Eddie Clarke’s band. I was there for RUSH, I was also 12 years old, with many things to Learn. I did pay enough attention to go out the next year and purchase a cassette of “The Birthday Party” and I heard Motorhead and then my tape was “liberated” from me the very next day. The Bastard!
Motörhead – The Birthday Party 1985 (Full Cöncert) ᴴᴰ
Lemmy had made many contributions while in Hawkwind. Songs Like “Lost Johnny” “The Watcher” and the last song he wrote for the band “Motorhead” were simply transferred over to the new group.
Motörhead – Motorhead
Lemmy wanted the music to be “Fast and vicious, just like the MC5”. His stated aim was to “concentrate on very basic music: loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speedfreak rock n roll … it will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”. He recruited guitarist Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox on drums.
Kilmister has said they used to steal equipment, as the band was short on gear. Their first engagement was supporting Greenslade at The Roundhouse, London on 20 July 1975. Things moved fast and having played 10 gigs, they became the supporting act to Blue Öyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon. Little did they know that soon they would be headlining the very same venue.
After the band’s first attempt at a record The Label rejected it and it would be released some years later. After the initial flack, Larry Wallis departed and was replaced by Phil Taylor on the kit, and Phil suggested his friend “Fast Eddie” Clarke should be the new guitarist. This Lineup is now considered an institution and THE Legend. The Albums “Motorhead” “Overkill” “Bomber” “Ace of Spades” and “Iron Fist” and the Live album “No Sleep til Hammersmith” were and are the Pillars that brought Motorhead to the world.
Motörhead live at Nottingham Theatre Royal 1980
Phil Taylor’s propensity to wreak havoc is the stuff of legend. There are countless tales but the most amusing to me personally was “Philthy Animal” Running around naked in the street while simultaneously alerting the passers-by and witnesses “IT’S OK….I” M ON DRUGS!!! ‘
Nothing about anyone in Motorhead was ever boring.
Motörhead – Ace Of Spades – Full Documentary + Bonus material
From 1977 to 1982 Motorhead worked on all these projects and others, Collaborative efforts with the band “Girlschool” included. The only times they were not working, they were playing as hard as they worked and in doing so the Madness would serve to inform their next ideas, which put them back to work once more.
They were also the victims of confusion by the record labels not releasing projects until much later than initially recorded. This was the case with “On Parole” The actual First Motorhead album shelved until the band reached some success, the Hawkwind songs appeared on that when released in 1979. The other Oddity of timing was the Live effort “What’s Words Worth”
Motörhead – What Words Worth (Full Album)
Dr. Feelgood’s Guitarist Wilko Johnson organized a charity event on 18 February 1978, at The Roundhouse in London, to raise money for the preservation of William Wordsworth manuscripts. Motörhead & Chiswick Records labelmates The Count Bishops, plus Wilko Johnson, were on the bill, but for contractual reasons Motörhead needed to perform under the name Iron Fist and the Hordes from Hell, part of which would later be used for the name of a studio album, Iron Fist. A deal was done to release the recordings (partly) in 1983. As stated in the liner notes:
“..this may not be the greatest live album ever recorded: it is not even the greatest live Motörhead album ever….the album stands as a testament to a band that had the balls to keep on keeping on..”.
Lemmy is heard at the end of the concert to say “read plenty of Wordsworth” and as a result, the album got its title because of this.
The album “Iron Fist”, was the last to feature the Lemmy, Clarke, Taylor line-up, though the line-up continued to perform in the Iron Fist UK tour between March 17th and April 12th, and the band’s first headlining North America tour from May 12 until Clarke’s last engagement at the New York Palladium on May 14th. The band took a week off, got a new guitarist Brian Robertson and pressed on until November 1982.
Motörhead – Live in New York 1982 (Eddie’s Last Stand)
The final straw for Fast Eddie was Lemmy wanting to do a collaboration with Wendy O Williams and The Plasmatics of country star Tammy Wynette’s hit “Stand By Your Man”. If you are going to pack your bag, at least have a colorful story to explain why Right?
Brian Robertson was brought in from Thin Lizzy for a one-album try and even though an exceptional guitarist his particular style of dress was not going to work. Consisting of shorts and ballet shoes, and with his point-blank refusal to play the old standards that every Motörhead audience expected to hear. Lemmy actually had to intervene when a Biker gang decided it would be best to just Murder Robertson at a show. The split was amicable and their relationship did produce “Another Perfect Day”.
Relatively unknown Würzel and Phil Campbell were both hired in because Lemmy couldn’t choose between the two after the round of auditions. This Line up would soon be seen on the television program “The Young Ones”. This lineup would be formidable yet Phil Taylor would depart after the recording leaving the drum spot open.
Motorhead on The Young Ones – Ace Of Spades HQ
Saxon Drummer Pete Gill would take the throne until 1987 when Phil Taylor returned.
In Spinal Tap fashion Taylor was fired in 1992 while the band was recording during the L.A. Riots for not learning a song.; Tommy Aldridge who recorded most of the material on the album; and Mikkey Dee, who recorded “Hellraiser”, a song originally written by Lemmy for Ozzy Osbourne’s No More Tears album. “March ör Die” features guest appearances by Ozzy Osbourne and Slash.
While King Diamond was touring with Motörhead, frontman Lemmy repeatedly asked Dee to join his band. In 1992, Dee accepted.
“Phil Taylor was great when he was good… so I could never have filled that space. It’s like when you get married and have kids; no one can take my father’s place… I could never be Phil Taylor, so I had to introduce Mikkey Dee into Motörhead.”
The Lineup of Lemmy, Phil Cambell, Wurzel and Mikkey carried on until Wurzel’s death in 2011. Yet nothing stopped Motorhead until Lemmy’s passing. His health had been in decline for a few years, and shows were canceled and stopped short but Lemmy always bounced back. On 28 December 2015, Lemmy died, four days after celebrating his 70th birthday. He was the second Motörhead member to die in 2015, following Phil Taylor the previous month. The band posted the following message on Facebook:
There is no easy way to say this… our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. He had learned of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made its way down the street, with his family.
We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.
We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please… play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind Lemmy loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD. Have a drink or few.
Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.
HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
Born to lose, lived to win.
“I Ain’t gonna be easy” A Lemmy Kilmister Film
Former Motörhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke died on 10 January 2018 after a battle with pneumonia at the age of 67, making him the last member of the band’s classic lineup (following Taylor and Lemmy) to die.
Original Motörhead guitarist Larry Wallis died on 19 September 2019 at age 70 from an unknown cause.
I have purposely not done the play-by-play on the entire body of work, certainly no disrespect to any album. It’s that I would be found a week later trying to tell the tale…
I can’t imagine a world that didn’t Have Motorhead and there will never be another band like it. We all have our favorite albums and many different people have many different versions of their tops on any list. They Just rode that Iron Horse in every direction, and I’m so thankful they did! In finality a tribute from another band you may have heard of called Metallica. R.I.P Lemmy and all departed.
On Parole (1979)
Ace of Spades (1980)
Iron Fist (1982)
Another Perfect Day (1983)
Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987)
March ör Die (1992)
Overnight Sensation (1996)
Snake Bite Love (1998)
We Are Motörhead (2000)
Kiss of Death (2006)
The Wörld Is Yours (2010)
Bad Magic (2015)