“Fast” Eddie Clarke Motörhead’s Greatest Guitarist

Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead

The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler

When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.

In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.

The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).

After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Way left to join Ozzy Osbourne’s band before he recorded any songs with Fastway. In 1983 the band released its eponymous debut record. Even though Way was never on any record the name Fastway was retained because it was a good band name.

During the 1980s Fastway put out some very good albums until lead singer Dave King left the band. After that Fastway’s output was sporadic at best and Clarke seemed to keep a very low profile at least musically.

Over the ensuing years Motörhead fans wished for a reunion of the classic line-up of Lemmy, Clarke and Taylor. Except for a couple of one-off live appearances on stage, all three never played together again.

Fast Eddie Clarke 2016 photo Matthew Sefton

Clarke was a vastly underrated guitarist, with a slick style that was imitated but never duplicated. Not that Clarke was the most technical or proficient guitarist. But his songwriting, riffs and unique sound made him one of a kind.

All of Clarke’s replacements, first Brian Robertson, then Wurzel and eventually Phil Campbell, who stayed with the band for 31 years until Lemmy’s death in 2015, were all very good guitarists. The problem for many Motörhead fans was they weren’t Clarke.

The proof of the absurdity of the meaningless Rock”n’ Roll Hall of Fame is that Motörhead is not part of it. When they are eventually included, Motörhead’s replacement guitarist and drummer, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee will be the one’s accepting the “honor.” The irony being that none of the three members who built the band into one of the most formidable and influential rock bands will be there. We can only imagine what Lemmy’s induction speech would have been like.

As we head into 2018 we grow increasingly aware that our heavy metal and rock legends are only here for a limited time. It’s not going to get better as they continue to die off more frequently while our youth fades into the distance. The greats leave us memories which will fade. Fortunately their music will last forever.

Here are some videos featuring “Fast Eddie” Clarke.

We Are The Road Crew no singing but incredibly tight playing even though “Fast” Eddie is inserted.

“Fast” Eddie demonstrates how the Ace of Spades is played.

“Fast” Eddie gets a turn on lead vocals on a cover of a song by Girlschool, Emergency. If you’re wondering 9 9 9 is the emergency telephone number in England, like 911 in the U.S.

The alternate version of Stone Dead Forever also with “Fast” Eddie on lead vocals.

From 1980 a killer live version of Stone Dead Forever with Lemmy back on lead vocals.

The band and “Fast” Eddie at their best live in Belfast 1981 performing Overkill.

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One thought on ““Fast” Eddie Clarke Motörhead’s Greatest Guitarist

  1. neville

    There will never be another band like Motorhead. The Philthy and Fast Eddie line-up was the best. I feel sorry for the kids today listening to the crap they call music.

    Reply

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