Obituary - Phil Taylor
I was saddened to learn of the death last Wednesday of Phil Taylor, the great Motorhead drummer. I first met Taylor when Lemmy brought him and Eddie Clark to meet me in a pub opposite our office in Camden Town in March 1977.
After speaking with one of my partners, Roger Armstrong, at the Rock On Records stall in Soho, Lemmy had telephoned me to enquire whether Chiswick Records would be interested in helping foot the bill for the Rolling Stones Mobile so they could record the band’s forthcoming final gig at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street.
Having indicated that we were definitely interested, Lemmy brought Phil and Eddie to see me to discuss recording plans. Eventually the idea of recording the Marquee gig was postponed and eventually abandoned and instead we arranged for Motorhead to spend a couple of days recording a single for immediate release.
A week or so later on a Wednesday night, Motorhead motored down to Escape Studios in Kent to record both sides of a single with Speedy Keen producing and John Burns engineering. The rest of this saga is almost legendary; after less than 24 hours at Escape, Motorhead had laid down about a dozen very powerful backing tracks and we decided that the band might as well stay for two extra days to try to complete the “Motorhead” album.
This they did with the aid of a few additional days mixing at Olympic Studios in Barnes. The single was released as quickly as possible on 11th June 1977 and immediately crashed the UK national chart at 58. It remained on the chart for six weeks, never going higher than 50th position. Motorhead’s first album release, “Motorhead”, made it to number 34 on the national chart when it was rush released soon after on 12th August. This initial success finally helped establish the band as a serious contender for major league rock stardom. The Motorhead single was released in both 7” and 12” formats (the first ever 12” UK rock single) and both the LP and single became Chiswick’s first chart entries.
Surprisingly for a band that created such powerful musical mayhem on stage and record, the individual members of Motorhead were invariably polite and easy to deal with when we were discussing business. In my experience, ‘Philthy Animal’Taylor, despite his wild reputation, was a decent chap and he never caused any problems for me during the band’s brief period as Chiswick artists. Oh! apart from getting Philthy drunk and breaking his wrist, after becoming involved in a scrap with Motorhead’s road manager Bobs in Plymouth, after the first gig of a national tour with the Count Bishops. This ultimately led to the cancellation of the tour.
Previously, Phil Taylor had replaced Motorhead’s original drummer Lucas Fox. I believe that Phil, Eddie and Lemmy comprised THE classic Motorhead line-up. Phil’s powerhouse drumming, especially his unique twin bass drum technique was one of the cornerstones of the awesome high-speed killer Motorhead sound. Phil’s drum technique influenced a legion of rock drummers including many big names and helped lay down the foundation for Speed and Thrash Metal. Surprisingly, Phil told me that he had started out playing drums in a mod band near his native Chesterfield.
R.I.P Phil Taylor 21 September 1954 – 11 November 2015.