Motorhead Guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke Dies at 67
Guitarist 'Fast' Eddie Clarke – the last surviving member of Motorhead's first classic lineup – has died at age 67 after a battle with pneumonia.
Clarke joined Motorhead in 1976 and, with bassist and singer Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, performed on the band's first five studio albums. Taylor died in November 2015; the following month, Kilmister died just days after his 70th birthday.
"We are devastated to pass on the news we only just heard ourselves earlier tonight ... Edward Allan Clarke – or as we all know and love him Fast Eddie Clarke – passed away peacefully yesterday," a representative posted on Motorhead's official Facebook page. "Ted Carroll (who formed Chiswick Records) made the sad announcement via his FB page, having heard from Doug Smith that Fast Eddie passed peacefully in hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia."
Born on Oct. 5, 1950 in London, Clarke co-founded Motorhead after appearing in a series of local bands, including the Bitter End and Continuous Performance. He was actually working on a houseboat when he met Taylor, who had recently joined Motorhead. Together with Kilmister, they shaped the band's sound and legacy through the release of a 1977 self-titled debut, 1979's Overkill and Bomber, 1980's Ace of Spades and 1981's No Sleep 'til Hammersmith. Clarke also stepped forward on duet vocals with Lemmy for songs like "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" and "I'm Your Witchdoctor," before the lineup suddenly broke apart over the band's direction during the Iron Fist era.
"I thought I'd probably die in Motorhead some time on stage in my life," Clarke admitted in a 2012 talk with Teeth of the Divine. "That was sort of a band of brothers, really. Time kicks on and situations change, you know."
Initially replaced by Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame, Clarke left to co-found Fastway with UFO bassist Pete Way. Still, Clarke admitted to lingering mixed feelings about splitting with Motorhead.
"Phil wanted to get Brian Robertson in the band and I found out later," Clarke told Anti-Hero in 2016, "so I mean, all the cards were stacked against me, so it’s not really a regret. It’s an unfortunate thing that happens, but these things happen, you know, in rock. Of course, I never really got over it. The best years of my life were in Motorhead, and what we did together I think still stands the test of time. So yeah, obviously, some of that can’t go away. I can’t call it a regret because this stuff does get all f---ed up when you are on the road for six years. You are all partying and taking drugs and writing music. It can get quite serious and quite difficult."
Meanwhile, Fastway struggled from the beginning, as Way dropped out before the band could sign an initial record deal. They soldiered on through a series of shifting lineups, and even opened for AC/DC at one point in the early '80s, before losing momentum.
"The first album was great and exactly as I planned it," Clarke told Classic Rock Revisited in 2014. "Then, the suits got involved and f---ed everything up and that was that. It recovered briefly with [1986's] Trick or Treat but [lead vocalist] Dave [King] had already decided to leave. He did not want to do heavy rock anymore. That’s the trouble with singers: They always think they are better than the rest. Bands are a team effort, in my opinion."
Clarke later sat in with Motorhead on 2003's Live at Brixton Academy, and memorably appeared with Lemmy to perform "Ace of Spades" during a 2014 concert in Birmingham. Lemmy also wrote and sang on "Laugh at the Devil" from Clarke's 1993 solo album It Ain't Over Till It's Over.
Watch 'Fast' Eddie Clarke Perform 'Ace of Spades' With Motorhead
Clarke, who said he had plans to work with Kilmister again before his sudden death, struck an introspective tone when asked about outliving his former bandmates in Motorhead.
"I did stop partying as heavy as they did," Clarke told Eon Music in 2016. "Phil carried on right until he had his aneurism in 2010, and Lemmy – he always paced himself ever since I’ve known him in 1975, but I’m sure he was doing the same thing, so that’s a long time to be partying heavily. But he was strong as an ox, old Lem. But me, I stopped drinking many years ago, so I had the advantage over everybody."
Clarke later formed a new version of Fastway, notably appearing at the U.K.'s Download Festival in 2007. Eat Dog Eat, the first album of Fastway songs in some 20 years, followed in 2011.
Phil Campbell, who served as Motorhead's guitarist from 1984 until 2015 when Kilmister's death ended the band, was quick to pay his respects to Clarke: "Just heard the sad news that Fast Eddie Clarke has passed away," he said in a statement. "Such a shock, he will be remembered for his iconic riffs and was always a true rock n roller. RIP Eddie."
"Oh my f---ing god, this is terrible news," Mikkey Dee, drummer for Motorhead from 1992 until their dissolution, added via Facebook. "The last of the three amigos. I saw Eddie not too long ago and he was in great shape. So, this is a complete shock. Me and Eddie always hit it off great. I was looking forward to seeing him in the U.K. this summer when we come around with the [Scorpions]. Now Lem and Philthy can jam with Eddie again, and if you listen carefully I'm sure you'll hear them, so watch out!! My thoughts go out to Eddie's family and close ones."