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. Continue reading →
Though there is a band called AC/DC and they are still recording and touring, the 2008 Black Ice album was the last that Malcolm Young had a hand in writing. Musically, that is what is important.
Guitar players are replaceable. Great songwriters are not.
As great as a rhythm guitar player he was, writing music is what Malcolm Young did best.
Not just writing amazing songs, but incredible memorable riffs and jaw dropping solos performed by his brother Angus. They are deceptively simple, yet undeniably catchy songs and riffs that changed rock n’ roll and influenced, and will continue to influence generations of musicians.
Proof? Listen to the magical 1977 AC/DC album Let There Be Rock.
As hard as it may be, ignore Bon Scott’s brilliant tongue in cheek lyrics and just listen to the main riff of every song.
How many rock albums have two memorable songs? Let There Be Rock has, “Go Down”, “Dog Eat Dog” ,”Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”, “Problem Child”, “Overdose”, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Eight catchy songs, heard once – remembered forever.
Lead guitarist Angus Young, the only remaining original band member, has continued AC/DC.
I feel sorry for Angus Young. Angus certainly keeps AC/DC going not for the money, but because honestly what else is there for him to do? An entertainer, a performer has a need to perform.
However without retired bassist Cliff Williams, the unceremoniously dispatched lead singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd and the late rhythm guitarist and main songwriter Malcolm Young, this is not AC/DC.
This is like calling Paul McCartney and his recent 2017 touring band The Beatles. It’s not and McCartney knows better.
The touring AC/DC is is basically a juggernaut of explosions, lights,and sound. Even with the great Angus Young heading them up, AC/DC are truthfully now no better than an AC/DC tribute band.
How many post-1982 songs were in AC/DC’s live set list in 2016 with Axl Rose on lead vocals? Continue reading →
Contaminated fish and micro chips
Huge supertankers on Arabian trips
Oily propaganda from the leaders’ lips
All about the future
There’s people over here people over there
Everybody’s looking for a little more air
Crossing all the borders just to take their share
Heading for the future
And we’re so abused and we’re so confused
It’s easy to believe that someone’s gonna light the fuse
Can’t happen here, can’t happen here, all that you fear they’re telling you, can’t happen here
Supersonic planes for a holiday boom
Rio de Janeiro in an afternoon
There’s people out of work but there’s people on the moon
Looking for the future
Concrete racetracks nationwide
Juggernauts are carving up the countryside
Cars by the million on a one way ride
Using up the future Continue reading →
Genius At Work – Handwritten Lyrics From Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Paul Simon, Rush, The Beatles and Others
Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man
Maybe you’ve wondered; how did some of the greatest songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll get written? When a creative artist puts pen to paper in a moment of inspiration, what does it look like?
If you are Paul McCartney or Keith Richards, sometimes melodies and words come in a dream.
McCartney’s melody for “Yesterday” was penned right after he dreamed about it. The original words he thought of were very different from the final version. Instead of,
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”
the words McCartney originally thought of were,
“Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs. Oh, we should eat some scrambled eggs.”
MCartney obviously worked on those lyrics for what has become one of the all-time great Beatles songs, with John Lennon apocraphally changing the title to “Yesterday.” Unfortunately there is no trace of McCartney’s original handwritten lyrics for Yesterday.
Keith Richards said he recorded Satisfaction, the breakout song for The Rolling Stones while dreaming as well. Instead of a pen, Richards had a tape recorder by his bed in a hotel while on tour in 1965. In the morning he checked his portable recorder and was surprised it was at the end of the tape. He rewound it to the beginning and discovered he had laid down the main riff and chorus and the words “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” He had no memory of actually recording the song, but surmises he woke up while dreaming it and proceeded to record what he had dreamed and went back to sleep! Richards presented the song to the band, and singer Mick Jagger later helped with the lyrics.
Outside of dreams, words come to musicians in a variety of ways. We will not look at the story behind the songs, but the actual drafts of the lyrics to those songs.
Searching the internet for the early drafts of songs with corrections yielded few results. But this assemblage is still interesting to look at.
Jim Morrison singer and poet of The Doors wrote the haunting Riders on the Storm, and it was placed as the last song on the final album Morrison performed on, L.A. Woman. It was also the last song to be recorded for that album.
Interestingly guitarist Robbie Krieger’s name is crossed out. Well, we know Morrison didn’t write the entire melody, but Krieger quite possibly contributed some of the words. It is the only song on the album where all four band members receive writing credit.
Next, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel with The Boxer from the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here you can see Simon’s thought process at work with most of the words never making it into the final version.
Lemmy And Motörhead – Underpaid, Underappreciated & Undeniably Unique
Lemmy of Motorhead on stage at Vale Park 3/8/1981
Motörhead the most underappreciated band in the history of rock ‘n roll is dead.
That is the news confirmed by Motörhead’s drummer Mikkey Dee. “Motörhead is over, of course. Lemmy was Motörhead. We won’t be doing any more tours or anything. And there won’t be any more records. But the brand survives, and Lemmy lives on in the hearts of everyone,” said Dee.
Motörhead founder, singer, songwriter and bassist, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister died in Hollywood, CA last week, Monday December 28, 2015 at the age of 70 . The official cause was an extremely aggressive form of brain and neck cancer that Lemmy had just been diagnosed with two days before. After the diagnosis Lemmy was stoic and figured he would live out the two to six months the doctor gave him as best he could.
Monday the 28th, Lemmy was in his house playing on a video game console that was shipped over to his apartment from the nearby Rainbow Bar & Grill where Lemmy normally spent hours playing the game. As he played, Lemmy nodded off and never woke up. With Lemmy’s death also comes the death of a band that toiled for over 40 years with no mainstream commercial success.
After a hellbent, hard-living life of extremes it’s amazing that Lemmy lived to be 70. On the other hand it’s hard to believe he is now gone. I really thought Lemmy would would not die, at least not in my lifetime. If anyone ever epitomized the lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll it was Lemmy.
Lemmy chain smoked, drank Jack Daniels like others drink water and probably took more speed than anyone else who ever lived. Yet through all the “bad” things Lemmy did to himself, he appeared indestructible, remained lucid in conversation and driven to perform until the very end. Lemmy had been battling various illnesses over the last two years and most recently was extremely depressed over the death of best mate, former Motörhead drummer Phil “Phlthy Animal” Taylor on November 11, 2015.
On December 11 in Berlin, Germany, Motörhead completed the second part of its 2015-16 world tour. The band then took a holiday break intending to return to Europe to continue the tour. A little over two weeks later Lemmy was dead.
In the days following Lemmy’s death other musical legends such as Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford and Gene Simmons have praised the founder and frontman of Motörhead. From all walks of life, everyone who encountered Lemmy said the same thing – he was a really good guy, not an asshole. For most rock stars with their inflated egos, being an asshole is an easy attitude to take on.
In Lemmy’s highly readable autobiography Whiteline Fever (Citadel, 2004), he said, “Fuck this ‘Don’t speak ill of the dead’ shit! People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are. But it’s not true! People are still assholes, they’re just dead assholes!”
Iron Maiden Plays Other Band’s Songs Better Than The Originals
Iron Maiden 1986 – (from l-r) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith
Like Metallica who seem to excel at playing cover songs, Iron Maiden has covered songs from many well known groups including Led Zeppelin, The Who and UFO. But it is usually the lesser known bands that Iron Maiden have been able to bring to the limelight with their covers, usually improving the song substantially in the process.
Of course it certainly helps if the song you’re covering is a good song to begin with. Many of these songs are just that: well written songs.
Here in no particular order are the five best Iron Maiden cover songs where Maiden generally took the original song up a notch.
1) I’ve Got The Fire (1981 and 1983) – originally done by the band Montrose featuring Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. This is the only Iron Maiden cover song recorded by both the original Maiden singer Paul Di’Anno and his successor Bruce Dickinson. First Paul Di’Anno:
Next, Bruce Dickinson’s version which was recorded in 1983.
2) Women In Uniform (1980) – originally performed by the Australian band Skyhooks, Maiden’s version bumps the tempo up and improves Continue reading →
It Was 35 Years Today That The Greatest Front-man in Rock History Died
I clearly remember when Bon Scott of AC/DC died. I heard it on the radio on a dreary February day in 1980. To me he was just a good singer in a band where all the members were very short.
It was sad, but honestly I didn’t think too much about it at the time having heard only some of AC/DC’s songs such as Let There be Rock, Highway To Hell and Touch Too Much. I was more into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, E.L.O., Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Cars, Elvis Costello and The Clash and many other mainstream bands. But his death sparked an interest in discovering what Bon Scott and AC/DC was about.
Over the next year I would come to love AC/DC especially with the American release of Dirty Deeds in 1981, five years after it was released everywhere else in the world. After hearing Dirty Deeds, I went out and bought all of the old AC/DC albums. To say I liked the Bon Scott version of AC/DC would be an understatement.
As the years have passed and I get older, I get more and more depressed that Bon Scott left us at age 33. It is hard to fathom he has been gone 35 years.
While not diminishing the passing of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and countless other rock icons, Bon’s death along with John Lennon’s and John Bonham’s (all coincidentally in 1980) are among the greatest losses to rock music ever.
What Bon Scott would have gone on to do can only be left to conjecture, but I would venture to say he would have built upon the previous successes the band had finally achieved. My friends who had seen AC/DC live said Bon’s charismatic stage presence was palpable in person and it came through on film and video as well. With his unique voice and take no prisoners attitude when performing, the audience felt an authentic connection to Bon Scott.
In the six years Bon Scott was the lead singer for AC/DC he recorded six studio albums. It says a lot that from those six albums are where AC/DC have continually pulled half of their live set from.
AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success
Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times
When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.
Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.
AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.
Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.
It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.
Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.
Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.
My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!
Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading →
For those who wondered if Fast Eddie Clark and Fastway would ever put out another new album, the answer is, finally yes. It took more than twenty years, but Fastway, Clark’s post-Motörhead band, in April 2012 finally and quietly released in the U.S. Eat Dog Eat and it is a decidedly radio friendly rock album. That is if there were radio stations that still played new rock albums.
On internet streaming sites and satellite radio where hard rock seems to have retreated, I’m afraid this excellent effort was completely overlooked. In the past two years I never heard one new cut from Fastway.
In this seemingly temporary incarnation, Fastway is now a three-piece ensemble with former Little Angels front man Toby Jepson, producing the album and providing lead vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar. Fast Eddie plays lead guitar and Matt E.(?) is on drums. Continue reading →
Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.
Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.
After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.
Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.
David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky
Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.
Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.
Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.
In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.
The Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.
Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.
The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.