I recently wrote a Motorhead piece for Uncut. This allowed me to make contact (via http://www.fasteddieclarke.com – thanks Steve) with a personal hero, the guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who recorded some of my favourite ever riffs, like “No Class”, and “Shoot You In The Back”. Eddie is a good bloke and a great raconteur, and I suspect that his nickname derives as much from the speed he tells a story as the speed he plays a solo. It was one of those rare occasions where one interviewee could easily have told the story himself, so that’s what I’m doing here. As you might imagine, it’s quite long, so I’ll put it up in bits. Blue Goose sounded a bit like Crazy Horse, incidentally.
I was a west London boy. I’d been with Curtis Knight and with Blue Goose and was doing electrics and stuff and was foreman on a building site on a barge they were building on the Thames opposite Cheyne walk and one day one of our Scottish guys brought Phil Taylor along and said ‘Can you give my mate Phil a job?’
I said alright, because we needed people to do sandpapering and stuff. Phil was quite funny really, I’d never met anyone like him. I showed him what to do – the next day I showed up to work and there was Phil, and he said “I’ve been here for three hours” – he’d been up all night speeding. That was my first take on Phil. He had all these tales about how he’d had his drumkit stolen and found the bloke and gone and got it back. He had this nutty girlfriend.
We had the keyboard player from Curtis Knight on the boat because he needed a job, and we even had a rehearsal him me and Phil but wecouldn’t get anything done because Phil was so crazed. I didn’t drink then. It was hard to get anything together. He worked for the boat for a while longer and then he disappeared.
Then he contacted me and said “I’ve joined Motorhead”. I said, “oh yeah” because I’d read about Motorhead, the lawn dying and that in the Daily Mirror or something. And he said, Larry’s done all these overdubs and he feels he could do with a rhythm guitarist. I wasn’t doing anything at the time, so he came round, played me some of the tracks and I said “Yeah, sounds good” and then I never heard anything, it all went quiet. Then Phil got arrested and ended up in jail. It was a fucking nightmare.
I met this girl one night at the Greyhound in Fulham and took her back to my place, she worked at this place The Cave, a rehearsal studios top of Lotts Road there. So I took her into work the following morning and who walks in but Lemmy. So I said, “Alright Lem, I’m supposed to be in your band”. And he said “Are you?” And he gave me his number and I took up the reins from there, forced it through. I booked rehearsals for the audition, and I had this car – so I picked up Lemmy for the audition, his stuff, and Phil with his stuff, set his drums up. Larry was coming from Camberwell with his roadie. Three in the PM at Furniture Cave and Larry never showed.
We’re jamming away having a bit of fun…Larry kept saying “I’ll be there man…He finally came about 6pm – I’d had to book the room upstairs – and he finally came, put his amp in the corner, turned it up full and started playing one of the songs on the album. Obviously in a foul mood, hating everyone. Being sensitive I thought it was me who had done something. So I fucked off home – I paid all the bills. It was embarrassing. I think that was on a Thursday and didn’t hear nothing else. I left it, thought fuck it.
Then Saturday morning I get a knock on the door at 8 in the morning. I thought “Who the fucking hell’s this?” So I go to the door in my fucking underpants, like “What the fuck’s all this?” And it’s Lemmy, standing there with a bullet belt in one hand and a leather jacket in the other. He gave them to me and said “You got the job” and walked off.
I’d run into him a couple of times. I used to hang out in Ealing with a friend whose parents used to go away a lot and had a big house. American Jim had a farewell party and who come along but Lem. I was going to be in Jim’s band. I got off work early because I was fixing TVs in them days and went down there and Jim said, you’re not in the band any more and I said, why? And he said I’ve got another guitarist, and pointed to Lem sitting in the corner. That was the first time I’d seen him. I was upset, and when there was a farewell party Lem came along with the bass player and jammed.
When we started rehearsing it was the summer of 1976, the hottest summer on record – we were toast down there. I’d written a few tunes, and I said to Lemmy we need to write our own stuff, so the first thing we wrote was “White Line fever”. I said to Lemmy, what about this?
Lemmy used to occasionally come up withthings. Phil came up with “Overkill” – he’d just got a new double kit and he went “dddddddddd”. Double bass drums. Oh, ok. I put the dah-dah in there, I always tried to put something in there for Lemmy to sing over. When I saw Motorhead now, they don’t do that, they sort of follow the root. O tried to give them a platform, or otherwise it’s just fucking boring. I think that’s what happened later on: no disrespect but it’s just duh duh duh, you know what I mean? I’d have flowered it up a little bit, a little bit of melody.
Lemmy was finding his feet as a writer. Larry does a lot of songs on On Parole, but I think it’s what made Lemmy a great writer, great lyricist. He’s a great singer, a great man to work with. We can write tunes, we have something going. We learned all the On Parole album, but that was only 40 minutes and we were speeding a bit of course, so it was about 35 live. We had “White Line Fever” and “Keep Us On The Road”, and we did “I’m Your Witch Doctor” – a John Mayall song. We’d do “Motorhead” twice –open it and close with it.
Our first gig was supporting Stray at the Lyceum. Then we went up to the Wigan Casino and headlined there, came down the next day and supported I think it was The Damned and the Adverts at the Roundhouse. That was our three gigs. We toured a bit here and there but nothing much came of it.