Motorhead guitarist and speed metal pioneer ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke has died after a battle with pneumonia. The official Motorhead Facebook page announced on Thursday 11th January that the rocker had passed peacefully while in hospital.

Clarke was known for being the guitarist of Motorhead during what many consider to be their golden years (1976-1982), helping to create albums such as Overkill and Ace Of Spades, the latter of which propelled the band to an international level.

After a short time experimenting in several bands and working different jobs, Clarke found himself as the lead guitarist of Motorhead in 1976. Then a trio, the group consisted of drummer Phil Taylor and bassist/lead singer Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, who have since passed away due to liver failure and complications due to prostate cancer and heart failure, respectively.

Clarke’s rapid guitar playing and keen ear for tantalising riffs earned him the ‘fast’ moniker, coined by his bandmates. His skill was also noticed by fans and other musicians, resulting in Clarke and co. being recognised as one of the most impactful bands on the speed, thrash and heavy metal genres. The band’s notoriety for deafening live shows and drug-fuelled antics boosted their popularity, especially for fans of heavier music; years later, Motorhead are still remembered as one of the hardest partying bands of all time, perhaps marking the path for later party animals to follow, such as Guns N’ Roses or Pantera.

Motorhead’s critical acclaim began to decline around 1983, however, and Clarke soon left the band following multiple disagreements. Despite his sudden departure, Clarke was adamant he didn’t leave of his own accord; “I had imagined dying onstage with Motorhead, so it was a blow when they didn’t want me in the band any longer.”

Clarke went on to perform with several other artists, most notably his band Fastway, which released seven studio albums, from 1983 to 2011. Despite his will to continue making music, Clarke did not supersede his reputation as the riff master of one of the loudest bands to have ever formed, but with his recent passing, he will surely be remembered for just that.

Article by Conor Winyard

George Millington