2018 has barely got going and we’ve already lost some music greats. Last week the news broke that producer Chris Tsangarides had passed away aged 61, following a bout of pneumonia. Major names in the rock and metal fields including Thin Lizzy/Gary Moore, Anvil, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Y&T and Bruce Dickinson had all worked with him as producer, illustrating his standing in the genre. He also produced records for artists in other styles, including Japan, Joan Armatrading, Tom Jones and Depeche Mode, having had a long career in the industry.
That was soon followed by the even more saddening news that ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, the last of the classic Motörhead line-up still standing, had died at the age of 67, also while being treated for pneumonia. He joined Motörhead in 1976, having been recruited by founder Lemmy to play alongside then-incumbent guitarist Larry Wallis. However Wallis quit soon after, which left the trio of Lemmy, Fast Eddie and drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor. The band’s hard and aggressive sound gained favour with both the punk and Metal crowds, while Lemmy would always insist that they played nothing more than ‘rock and roll’, they were nevertheless firmly pigeonholed as a Metal band, furthermore they were cited as influences by many Metal bands which came along after. This was the line-up which made iconic albums such as ‘Overkill’, ‘Bomber’ and of course the album for which Motörhead will always be remembered, ‘Ace Of Spades’. At the start of the 1980s Motörhead were at their height, as their live album ‘No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith’ topped the UK album charts and they scored numerous hit singles.
It all started to go wrong in 1982, firstly over the production of the ‘Iron Fist’ album (Clarke had, reluctantly, stepped in as producer) which the band were dissatisfied with, then the final straw came when Lemmy opted to record with Wendy O. Williams and her band The Plasmatics, on a cover of Tammy Wynette’s ‘Stand By Your Man’. Disagreeing with the decision, Eddie quit the band while they were on a US tour. His time with Motörhead had changed him from a moderate drinker into a hardened boozer and, having taken a break to recuperate, reappeared in 1983 with a new band, Fastway. This band was intended to feature former UFO bassist Pete Way (hence the name), but contractual obligations meant he could not take part. Their self-titled debut album was a success Stateside, and they released a follow-up (‘All Fired Up’, 1984) before the line-up splintered. He reappeared with a short-lived new Fastway line-up in 1986, most notably contributing the title track for the ‘Trick Or Treat’ film soundtrack album. Despite landing a tour supporting AC/DC in the US, the band were unable to capitalise on earlier success.
He continued to record material, with a solo album (‘It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over’) featuring a guest appearance from Lemmy appearing in 1994. Fast Eddie made occasional guest appearances of his own at selected Motörhead shows, the last of which came in 2014 at Birmingham. He was planning a return to the studio and a possible collaboration with Toby Jepson (Little Angels/Wayward Sons) when he took ill. Fast Eddie will always be associated with Motörhead, although he spent only six years with the band and made much more material after leaving the band, it is that manic period from which numerous iconic albums came, that will be his legacy.
As I was putting this post together news broke of the passing of Cranberries lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, aged just 46. The Irish band weren’t one I was a massive fan of, but that was still a shock, being so unexpected. She was in London to record new material, and there has been a stunned reaction to her passing. Best known for 1990s hits such as ‘Linger’ and ‘Zombie’, however to close this post I’ll link to their rendition of ‘Cordell’. Written as a tribute to producer Denny Cordell (who signed the band), its lyric takes on added poignancy now. The song was covered by Delain some years later, and their singer Charlotte Wessels has posted her own tribute to Dolores O’Riordan, naming her as a primary influence.