“There’ll always be a place for heavy metal”

'Fast' Eddie Clarke, in Marbella, where he spends long periods of time and supports the local live music scene.
'Fast' Eddie Clarke, in Marbella, where he spends long periods of time and supports the local live music scene. / Josele-Lanza
  • ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, former guitarist with legendary British band Motorhead, talks at his Marbella home about the value of live music

He proudly wears a T-shirt bearing the name of his current band Fastway - which comes from his nickname ‘Fast’ (from the movement of his fingers on the guitar) and the surname of UFO bass player Peter Way - but in his heart he is still part of Motorhead, one of the most famous names in British heavy metal, with whom he toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the age of 66 Eddie Clarke is still going strong. He still has his leather jacket and long hair, although the image of a hard rock star is diluted somewhat when he says that he travels between the UK and Marbella (where he has had a home for over ten years) by car so his dog, Cookie, doesn’t have to go in the hold of a plane.

It was sheer coincidence which led him to meet Lemmy Kilmister, bass player and vocalist with Motorhead, through another of the band’s members, Phil Taylor. That was back in the 1970s and the three formed what is considered the classic line-up of the British band which, with Eddie, Phil and Lemmy, reached its peak of success with albums such as Ace of Spades, Overkill and No Sleep till Hammersmith, which catapulted them to the top of the heavy metal scene in Britain.

Eddie formed part of the band until 1982. His disagreements with Lemmy came to a peak over the album Iron Fist. Nearly 40 years later, he insists that he never wanted to leave.

“I never wanted to leave Motorhead. I was forced out by circumstances beyond my control,” he explains. “Honestly, I would have spent my whole life in Motorhead and would have liked to have died on stage one day with them. They had different ideas and they decided I was no longer part of Motorhead, not me,” he explains.

He feels no bitterness towards his former bandmates, with whom, he says, he would have liked to have shared a final concert. They both died within days of each other at the end of 2015.

“I was devastated. I knew they were not well and I visited Phil a few times when he was really ill. Lemmy I saw at the Classic Rock awards in November 2015 and he looked frail and I was very concerned.”

Lemmy died a little over a month later, Eddie continues, and Phil died the same night as he last saw Lemmy.

“I would have loved to have played one more show with them. I always felt we had something very special and for me it was like losing two brothers. We had done so much together and achieved a lot at a time when things were pretty difficult. We never gave up and were rewarded with our success and memories,” he explains.

After leaving Motorhead, Eddie Clarke began a new musical career with Fastway. They are completely different projects and can’t be compared, he says. Aware that tastes in music had changed and that those were hard times for the music business, Eddie went ahead with his projects with Fastway. Last year he did a tour of the UK with other legendary bands such as Saxon and Girlschool.

“I was kind of doing it as tribute to Phil and Lemmy and I wanted to see the fans one more time. Saxon and Girlschool supported Motorhead in the 70s. The fans seem to understand the link with the old days. Just for good measure on Saxon’s encore I got up and did Ace of Spades and it really went down well. I have to say it was personally a very successful outing,” he says.

And what is the situation for heavy metal music nowadays? “Like all music today I think it is struggling for the reasons I stated earlier. Things do move on and tastes change, but I do believe there will always be a place for heavy metal bands, but I think it will get more difficult for the bands to thrive. I do hope things will change. I think we just have to be patient. Things have a way of coming round again…”

His love of live music has even led him to join the Marbella Association of Musicians, and he seems quite integrated into local life.

“I have some musician friends here in Spain and I like to support live music as I really believe there is no future without live music. So I thought it would be good to join the association,” he says.

Eric Clapton, John Mayall and Jimmy Hendrix were his first influences in music. Nowadays, he says, he doesn’t need outside influences. “Nothing guides me now, I let it all come from within myself. I think I have enough experience now to be able to do that,” he explains.

He spends long periods of relaxation at his home in Elviria with his wife Mariko. Over 20 years ago he went on a car journey around the Spanish coast, and fell in love with Marbella straight away. His plans for the immediate future include more shows with Fastway and, perhaps, a new CD with some of his unpublished work from the past 30 years.

Does he have any plans to perform in Marbella? “No plans at present... but never say never!” he says.