'Fast' Eddie Clarke: 1950 – 2018
We were very sad to lose the last surviving member of Motörhead; a group that was on the verge of breaking up when we signed them to a record deal and released their first single and LP way back in 1977.
Eddie Clarke, whose exciting guitar playing made him one of the most influential guitarists in modern rock, passed away in hospital on Wednesday 10th January as a result of a severe bout of pneumonia. I first met Eddie in April 1977 when Chiswick Records signed Motörhead to a one-off recording deal. Although an exciting and powerful guitarist, off stage Eddie was one of the most laid back and nicest people that you could meet.
Motörhead’s final gig had been scheduled to take place at the Marquee Club, when Lemmy approached Chiswick Records, at Eddie’s instigation, to ask for financial help to record a live album.
Motörhead’s first album “Motörhead” helped to establish the band as a significant force here in the UK. The Motörhead single [released on June 10th 1977] spent seven weeks in the UK top 75, although it only peaked at 51. The Motörhead album was rush-released on 21st August and spent three weeks in the Top 50, peaking at 37; not bad for a debut album on a tiny indie label.
Eddie Clarke was born in Twickenham in 1950 and he got his first guitar in 1965 when his father had “a win on the horses”. He became a proficient guitarist, honing his chops with various local groups and in 1974 he joined Curtis Knight’s group Zeus and recorded an album with them. He also recorded an album in 1975 with a group named Blue Goose and briefly put together a group named Continuous Performance.
When this band failed to secure a record deal, Eddie abandoned ideas of turning professional for the time being and while working on a job refitting a house boat on the Thames he hired Phil Taylor as a painter. By this time Phil had joined Motörhead as drummer and was helping finish the band’s aborted album for UA. Phil invited Eddie to bring his guitar down to Rockfield studios where Motörhead were recording, the idea being that Eddie might join Larry Wallis in a dual guitar line-up. As soon as Eddie arrived at Rockfield, Larry left the group and this marked the beginning of the classic Motörhead line-up.
The unfinished album was shelved by UA and the band was barely existing, living in squats with just a very occasional gig when in March 1977, Phil Taylor announced that he’d had enough, which takes us to the last Motörhead gig at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street.
Eddie was a member of Motörhead for the most successful five years of their career following the release of the Chiswick album. Then in 1982 he was unexpectedly kicked out of the band over musical differences with Lemmy and Phil Taylor.
Eddie then got together with UFO bass player Pete Way to form Fastway with ex-Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and vocalist Dave King. Just as the band signed a deal with CBS Records, Way left the band to be replaced by former Taste bassist Charlie McCracken. Fastway went on to record a total of nine albums over 25 years with Eddie Clarke the only permanent member of the band.
Eddie’s inspirational driving guitar-playing kept fans interested and Fastway toured and played festivals all over the world , but gradually sales spiralled down and “Dog Eat Dog” for the German Steamhammer label in 2011 was the band’s final album. Eddie had a home studio and continued playing guitar and his final album was “Make My Day - Back To Blues” in 2014.
Eddie is survived by his partner Marika Fujiwara.