Sunday Old School: Motorhead, The Godfathers Of Heavy
Band Photo: Motorhead (?)
The term "legend" is thrown around all too often these days, almost to the point where being an older band instantly gives you the title, but how many bands can not only honestly claim the title of "legend," but also "icons?" Only a handful. And within this handful, we find one of the best and loudest bands to ever tread the Earth - the one and only Motorhead. Motorhead is as important to heavy metal as Miles Davis is to Jazz. Every fan of metal, punk, hardcore and rock will be able to tell you who Motorhead is, and if you find one who can't, beat them with the heaviest object you can find, just so they get an idea for how heavy Motorhead is.
The band was formed by Ian Fraser Kilmister (aka Lemmy) in London in 1975, after he was released from the band Hawkwind for (of all reasons) excessive drug use. The band was originally going to be called "Bastard" until it was pointed out that shows like Top Of The Pops might have a tiny problem with such a tag, so the moniker was switched to Motorhead instead. The name came from the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind and at the time was American slang for someone who often took Speed. Lemmy assembled guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox and after only ten shows, they secured a slot opening for Blue Oyster Cult at the famous Hammersmith Odeon. They then recorded an album for United Artists but it wasn't to be released until the band gained popularity a few years later, as the label were unhappy with the material. Shortly after this, Wallis and Fox were no longer members of the band and "Fast" Eddie Clarke and Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor came in as replacements, forming one of the heaviest trios in the history of music. This lineup recorded a string of albums which are now regarded as classics by rock and metal fans, such as "Overkill," "Bomber" and of course, "Ace Of Spades," as well as topping the British albums chart with their live album, "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith." Following their next album, "Iron Fist" Eddie Clarke would leave the band, being replaced by former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson. This lineup of the group would only record one album, 1983's "Another Perfect Day" which earned the band some backlash from fans at the time, though it has gained a cult following over the years.Subsequently, both Robertson and Taylor left the band, leaving Lemmy to form an entirely new lineup, which he did with former Saxon drummer Pete Gill, ex-Persian Risk guitar player Phil Campbell and unknown guitarist Michael "Wurzel" Burston.
This lineup would only last for one compilation record and one studio album before Taylor returned to the band. Motorhead would release the albums, "1916" and "March Or Die" before Taylor was once again no longer a member, this time being replaced by King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee. This lineup would release the album "Bastards" in 1993 and the band released a single the next year entitled, "Born To Raise Hell" which featured Ugly Kid Joe frontman Whitfield Crane and rap legend Ice-T, for the movie "Airheads." This lineup would again be a short lived one, as Wurzel was to leave the band following the "Sacrifice" album in 1995. Since then, Motorhead has continued as a three-piece and have released a further seven albums, with another one planned for this year. Many have also claimed that the group was rejuvinated by the beginning of the 21st century, as since 2004's "Inferno" they have received constant acclaim for their newer material, with plenty of fans and critics alike agreeing the band have been producing their best albums since the early 1980's. As was said at the beginning of this article, Motorhead aren't just legends, nor will people stop at calling them icons. They are are gods. They changed the face of rock music, proved it was alright for fans of metal and punk to like the same band, influenced thrash metal to no end and are still going strong thirty five years later, continually setting the standards for all bands out there. Long may they continue to show everyone how rock and roll is done!
Motorhead - "Bomber"
Motorhead - "Killed By Death"
Motorhead - "Born To Raise Hell"
Motorhead - "Whorehouse Blues"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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