“Fast” Eddie Clarke, the last remaining member of the heavy metal band Motörhead, has died at 67. He was pronounced dead late Wednesday night in hospital where he was reportedly being treated for pneumonia. The news first broke through the Official Motörhead Facebook page after knowledge of his death was obtained from Ted Carroll of Chiswick Records, the label behind Motörhead’s eponymous 1977 release. Fast Eddie is best known as the guitarist in the original Motörhead line-up, who would later move on to become a founding member of the English rock band Fastway.
Born Edward Allan Clarke on October 5th 1950, Fast Eddie became infamous by association. Early to the metal scene, Motörhead garnered an image that was anarchistic, rebellious, and most notably, loud. While there is no denying that Clarke fed off the energy that his late bandmates Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, he was known by those close to him as the least extroverted of the three, and perhaps a man of principle. Before Motörhead, in the early 1970s Clarke played in Blue Goose, which had signed to Anchor Records with an advance in exchange for the promise of an album. When the band proved a severe lack of amplifiers and couldn’t hear Clarke solo, he was subsequently removed from the crew. It was later when he was asked to rejoin Blue Goose that Eddie would turn down the offer; the band had made no progress toward an album prior to, and including, his absence.
A parallel appears at the end of Clarke’s career when Motörhead in 1982 began to experiment with covering other artists’ songs, met with poor critical reception by both the media and Eddie Clarke. He reportedly discussed his distaste with Lemmy who fought him over it, and Clarke was out of the band after a series of Plasmatics covers that followed the release of Iron Fist. In this instance unfortunately, it wasn’t Clarke omitting himself from Motörhead’s activities; “Notice I do not call it leaving, as it was not my choice. I had imagined dying onstage with Motörhead, so it was a blow when they didn’t want me in the band any longer.” “Fast” Eddie Clarke’s artistic prowess soon after found solace in his band Fastway, formed with UFO bassist Pete Way. With Fastway he would enjoy many prolific years through until the 1990s, where his music would become more of a solo venture.
Clarke’s last release before his January 2018 passing was the 2014 Secret Records venture “Make My Day – Back to Blues”, accredited to “Fast” Eddie Clarke and featuring Bill Sharpe on keys. While nothing like Motörhead, and certainly not smooth like the masters Clapton and King, Clarke cuts his own path through the genre. He barely grovels, just states his discontent, riffs, and moves on. In fact, the ten songs are better imagined like a farewell record; it’s easy to imagine the gruff stylings of Clarke fading into the sunset as he speeds always toward something better.