Interview by Marko Syrjälä
Even today, Fast Eddie Clarke is probably best known to the heavy metal masses as the guitar hero of the pioneering lineup of MOTÖRHEAD from 1977-1982, which also featured Philthy Animal Taylor on drums. Together, with their fearless leader Lemmy Kilmister leading the way, these three rock legends recorded and released such praised albums as “Motorhead” in 1977, “Overkill” and “Bomber” in 1979, “Ace of Spades” in 1980, “Iron Fist” in 1982 and of course the classic live album “No Sleep ’til Hammersmith” in 1981. In the early eighties, Fast Eddie was either fired from Motörhead or left of his own volition depending on who’s telling the story. Either way, he was headed towards even greater commercial success with his new band FASTWAY, which he’d set up with Pete Way, at the time, of UFO. From there started a rock n’ roller coaster ride that had brought Eddie to the verge of death and forced him out of the public eye by the early nineties. Now, after two decades, Eddie has finally chosen to return to the stage with his newly assembled lineup of FASTWAY. We’re very proud to be able to present to you this interview with the great man himself where, with admirable candor, Fast Eddie recounts some of the various chapters of his colorful career. Rock on!
THE RISE OF FASTWAY
We’ll start from the beginning, the early days of FASTWAY, if that’s alright? We just recently met and spoke with Pete Way at a gig he did with UFO.
Did you? How was it?
The UFO show was great, and Pete looked pretty fresh but a bit hungover, you know?
He’s always got a hangover. Pete and I used to drink heavily together. Obviously, you know.
You, of course, founded FASTWAY together with him, but eventually, he never went through with it. Among other things, he said that it was, in fact, contractual stuff that prevented him from going on FASTWAY at the time?
Yeah, Chrysalis Records made it very difficult, but he just never turned up for rehearsals. I didn’t see him for five years, and then I ran into him in the street, and I said “Hello, Pete!”, so we had a cup of coffee and… because he’s a lovely bloke and we’re really good friends. You know that’s why it was such a shame [that the FASTWAY thing didn’t work out]. I’ve made this album, called “Anthology” that’s just come out, and what I did was I had the three demos that I did with Pete Way with FASTWAY, and I put those on it because those demos when you listen to them they’ve got a slightly different groove going, and it’s kinda nice. You know, Pete adds that sort of relaxed feel. So it was a shame about that, but you know, it’s in the past now, but I was pretty upset at the time.
The classic Fastway: Jerry Shirley, Dave King, and Fast Eddie Clarke
Although he never got credited for it, Pete also did some writing for that first FASTWAY album, didn’t he?
I suppose a bit of the music, probably three or four of the songs, but Dave [King] wrote all the lyrics and Pete just fucked off, you know, I didn’t know where to get hold of him, I didn’t know what he wanted to do, you know. He wouldn’t talk to me, and I didn’t know why, so we just left it like that. I assumed he wasn’t interested, and he’s never said anything to me about that. But Topper Headon from THE CLASH was involved, but it was just jamming, you know until Dave came along and put some vocals on. I suppose the way it was. It was a pretty fun time; the way he disappeared, and he wouldn’t talk to us, he left us really in the lurch. So I suppose that could explain it.
Yeah, even the band’s name was a combination of your names, Fast + Way, so it was a kind of missed opportunity for sure.
I know; I mean, I was heartbroken. When you listen to these three tracks, you can see what the band should have been like, you know. It has just a slightly different groove to it.
Pete actually mentioned that he’d even considered putting FASTWAY back together again with Dave King, no less…
Yeah, he says that to everybody. I think he’s got about ten bands at the moment, but God bless him. He’s still got a lot of energy which is nice, you know. He’s doing a lot more than I have, but I think he’s pretty good with UFO. I think he’s doing some other band as well, and I can’t remember the name of it. Somebody told me the other day.
You mean DAMAGE CONTROL with Spike, Chris Slade, and…
DAMAGE CONTROL? Yeah, that’s right with the guy from THE QUIREBOYS; that’s the one. So he’s got that as well as UFO. I mean, how many bands do you want? If you know what I mean. But I’m hoping to see him this year sometime, and I’d love to see him for a drink and a chat because we always have a fucking good laugh. So that would be nice.
I look forward to it, you know. [NOTE: Fastway and UFO are both slated to appear at the Hard Rock Hell festival in November in the UK.]
THE FALL OF FASTWAY
After three albums, “Fastway” in 1983, “All Fired Up” in 1984, and “Waiting for the Roar” in 1986, you did a soundtrack album with FASTWAY, which kind of brought to an end the Dave King era. It was for the film “Trick or Treat,” how did that one come about?
Well, it was after “Waiting for the Roar,” which didn’t do any business. That’s what did Dave’s head in because “Waiting for the Roar” was Dave’s album. You know, I was getting further removed from it, and of course, it failed, and Dave took it really bad. So he wanted a change, but then we got offered this “Trick or Treat” thing, and I said, “Well, let’s do this, and we’ll do this as the last thing together.” because he wanted to off with the band and do QED I think it was called, and he agreed. So that was like our swan song, you know?
Have you seen the movie, and if so, how did you like it?
Well, it’s just one of those funny old movies, you know. Ozzy’s in it, and Gene Simmons is in it. It was something you do.
Alright, let’s move on to the final years of FASTWAY. How did you go from Dave King to Lea Hart?
Well, Dave left the band. I got dropped by the record company and the management, but I was FASTWAY, so they went off on their own and left me… it was a little bad time for me. And then I met Lea, and we started to do some stuff together, but it was a pretty bad time for me. I had been fucking shitted on again, you know, by the business. So I drank heavier and heavier, so Lea was doing his best, you know, but it wasn’t easy because I was in a bit of a state. You know my input on the album [“On Target” released in 1988] was minimal in the end, and then for the second album [“Bad Bad Girls” released in 1990], I was in the hospital for most of the time. I was only allowed to do a little bit when I was there, but they had to do the record. So I never really think of those two albums as really me.
Steve Clarke, Eddie, Lea Hart, and Paul Gray
Did you tour or played any gigs at all for those two albums?
No, Lea didn’t want to do any gigs. Yeah, it was all a big mess. It was a big mess, and I was drinking too heavily, and one thing leads to another, which was the end of that.
The songs from those two albums have been re-released dozens of times with different singers on different albums.
Lea does that. I know because I didn’t do anything in the ’90s apart from my solo album [“It Ain’t Over till It’s Over” in 1993], but I kept being told about these albums. And he put my name on those, and I was never even on them. Hey, you know, life’s too short.
In hindsight, what’s your opinion on some of those songs, like “Body Rock,” for example?
Well, it wasn’t what I would have done. It’s not what I would have done, really, but as I said, I was in the hospital for five weeks because I had had all this blood coming out and I was actually dying, so I couldn’t do anything. But Lea wanted to go on, and I think Lea had an idea of what he wanted the album to sound like he did with the first one. So actually, there was nothing much I could do about it. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s just how it was because I was so destroyed, really, by Dave King and all that. You know, I had had enough, the Lemmy thing originally and the Dave King thing, I’d had fucking enough of it, man. I’m not that bad a guy, and I got fucked over, you know. I just couldn’t be bothered anymore, and because I was drinking, I just drank more and more, and of course, I just got worse and worse. I was lucky to be alive. I was almost one of those, you know, rock n’ roll casualties.
You did a promo video for the title track from the “Bad Bad Girls” album. Any memories from that?
Yeah, I had just stopped drinking then. So, I was in a bit of trouble doing that. I was embarrassed about that.
In the early nineties, did you give up playing altogether?
I didn’t give up exactly, I did my solo album in 1993, but I gave up drinking because I was dying.
But in the years since then, have you been playing at all?
Not really, only at home. I did a little thing in Germany for the tsunami; it was a charity thing. I did it with a MOTÖRHEAD cover band. I went out and did half an hour with them because it was for charity and the tsunami thing, that was 2004. I did an album, but that’s all I’ve done on stage in 21 years.
Eddie on stage in 2007!
Well, it is now the year 2007, and we’re sitting here at Sweden Rock Festival where you’ve just finished your set with FASTWAY. What inspired you, after all these years, to get back into music and reassemble FASTWAY?
Just a chain of events that, after 21 years, someone managed to persuade me to pick up the guitar again. He’s the drummer actually, Steve Strange, he’s an old friend of mine. He wasn’t in the original FASTWAY, but back then, he was going to play drums with me towards the end of the FASTWAY with Lea Hart, but I had a few health problems and stuff, so I hung up the guitar for a couple of years, and he went off and became an agent. But he’s always said that he’s going to put it back together, and we’re going to rock sometimes. This year he put it together and brought Toby Jepson along from the LITTLE ANGELS, a great singer, and John McManus from MAMA’S BOYS [on bass], and it’s a perfect little band. He plays great drums, you know, I wasn’t sure if he would be able to or not, but he’s proved me wrong. He’s fantastic, you know. And we did a little show in London on Wednesday to warm up, we’ve got Sweden today as you know, Donington tomorrow and then we’re in Holland next weekend and then Belgium and maybe then the world. We’re going to storm the world, isn’t that right, Toby?
That’s right, bro!
And then the world, all the power!
In 2000, you appeared on stage with MOTÖRHEAD as a special guest for their 25th anniversary gig at the Brixton Academy, didn’t you?
Yeah, it was with Brian May [of QUEEN] and Ace from SKUNK ANANSIE.
And Doro Pesch was there too, wasn’t she?
Oh, Doro Pesch, that’s right, she was there. Of course, when I used to see Doro [back in the day], she was quite young then, she has grown up now, she’s probably got children and all things, you know. I don’t know since I never knew Doro because it happened just after my MOTÖRHEAD thing. Then when I went with FASTWAY, we went to America because England didn’t want to know. The fans didn’t like me leaving MOTÖRHEAD, you know, although it wasn’t my idea, everybody said it was my idea, IT WAS NOT, but you know it’s in the past.
Obviously, you’ve been in contact with the current lineup of MOTÖRHEAD in recent years, but when was the last time that you saw Philthy Animal Taylor?
In 2002, I was in Los Angeles and went to see him. We had a cup of tea and got together, and then all three of us [Lemmy, Philthy, and Eddie] got together briefly, but it was nice. But that was it because he lives there and I had to come back to London, you know.
Do you know what Philthy is up to these days?
I’ve heard that he’s playing again. But that’s all I know, and I don’t know names or anything?
We’ve heard that he’s playing with the WEB OF SPIDER band now, which is pretty cool.
That’s cool to hear.
Lemmy, Philty, and Eddie
You’re going to go onstage with MOTÖRHEAD once again, here tonight at Sweden Rock?
I’m going to get up with MOTÖRHEAD on the encore and hopefully do at least “Overkill” and “Bomber” or maybe “Ace of Spades” and “Bomber” I don’t know, but I’ll do at least a couple. [NOTE: In the end, Fast Eddie was on stage for the whole encore and did all three songs mentioned here.]
Was it Lemmy himself who asked you to do this?
Ahh… sort of, sort of more Mikkey Dee.
Yeah, we always talk, me and Mikkey, whenever we see each other. He kept saying, “You must come up.”, so when he heard I was coming here [to Sweden Rock], he thought it was a great opportunity, you know. Yeah, why not? It’ll be good fun.
I’m looking forward to it.
Mikkey’s originally from Sweden.
Yeah, he’s Swedish, isn’t he? He’s got a Ferrari, though, and I haven’t got a Ferrari.
As it happens, neither do we, unfortunately. It also seems that our time’s up, but it’s sure been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you, Eddie, once again for your time!
FOR MORE INFO, GO TO WWW.FASTEDDIECLARKE.COM
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