rock LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD - Extract from chapter 5 - Motorhead
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD -- Latest extract (Motorhead)
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD - New book -- Out on Sept 15th 2007 (Now available for pre-order on Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Walmart and many many others)
New Extract -- Chapter Five Motorhead.
This chapter is about the band's painful birth at Rockfield. The band recorded their first album in 1975. Lemmy himself says "Motorhead were born at Rockfield".
In these two extracts, the first one is about the first fews gigs played by Motorhead after Lemmy was sacked by Hawkwind. The second one is about dissent in the band over the appointment of Dave Edmunds as producer of their first album at Rockfield.
'Then Lemmy got chucked out of Hawkwind when they were crossing the border from Canada to America,' says former Motorhead guitarist Larry Wallis. 'I was sitting around at home not doing very much, when Lemmy phoned up and said "I've just been thrown out of Hawkwind. How would you like to join the most evil band that ever walked the earth?" So I said "Sure" and jumped into a taxi, right there and then, and went over the rehearsal room in Chelsea, where Lemmy and Lucas Fox were waiting and that was that. We made an awful racket, took a load of drugs and became Motorhead.'
Lemmy set out the band's stall early on. His amps, which had been psychedelic coloured with Hawkwind, were now painted black. Their first show was at the Roundhouse in London on Sunday July 20th 1975. They were supporting pomp-rockers Greenslade. The band took to the stage to the recorded sounds of marching feet and people yelling 'Sieg Heil'. One of the band's dark black amps had a big silver-painted human skull on it – the forerunner to the now legendary Motorhead logo. That night the band played just 7 songs, including Silver Machine and Motorhead. Wallis was enjoying life with his new band and thought the Roundhouse gig boded well for the future.
'It was a great gig! We'd let people know it was going to be an awful, noisy, speedy monster of a concert. And so all of Lemmy's fans were there and a lot of Pink Fairies fans turned up. They loved it.'
After a handful of gigs – including a disastrous experience supporting Blue Oyster Cult - Motorhead were voted 'worst band in the world' by Melody Maker magazine. Splashed over the front page, it was nevertheless good publicity for the embryonic band. Many audiences, though, were bemused. Lemmy and the band were often confronted by rows of people with blank faces and their mouths hanging wide open. Despite being early days, the trio already prided themselves on being the fastest band in the world. Sometimes this desire would get the better of them at their early gigs, much to the annoyance of many a promoter.
'We were doing a Sunday night gig in Croydon,' remembers Larry Wallis. 'We rushed on stage and off we went at 100 miles an hour. I remember Lemmy and I were shouting at Lucas "Faster, you bloody idiot, Faster." We went down well, and triumphantly strode off the stage. In the dressing room we were considering an encore, when a furious promoter burst in, demanding to know why we'd done 25 minutes instead of the agreed hour. We were astonished to find we'd played the entire set in half the usual time!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Larry Wallis had his doubts about appointing Dave Edmunds as producer: 'Basically I never agreed to it. Edmunds is a fabulous producer. Absolutely incredible! But just because Lemmy was a fan of his, he wanted him to do our record, which I never thought was a great idea. I don't think Dave could cope with working with a group of maniacs, who had a mental entourage of drug addled Hells Angels and groupies.' Long time Rockfield producer John David also felt that Edmunds and Motorhead were unusual bedfellows.
'At that time Dave wanted to do more production and was willing to look at pretty much any band. Motorhead's manager even came up to us in the studio at Rockfield and said "Of course they're not really a band. They're just car thieves." That's how he explained them! But I do remember one time, when the band were completely out of their heads on drugs. It was about 6 o'clock in the evening and Lemmy was trying to overdub this guitar solo. It wasn't difficult. It was a very simple riff and only about 10 seconds long. But Lemmy was so out of it, on some drug or other, that he just could not play it. But he was trying over, and over again, without success. Every time I walked past the door, I could hear it, the same bloody guitar phrase. And Dave is sitting at the mixer desk with a dazed look on his face, while Lemmy was in the studio, sagging at his knees, still trying to play this solo. Anyway I was back there at about 10 o'clock the next morning. They were still there! They were still doing it. All night they'd been trying, so they hadn't gone to bed. And there was Lemmy still playing that same guitar line – and badly! I couldn't believe it. Then later that morning, the maintenance guy, Otto, went in to the studio just to tidy some stuff up and he saw this plate of beans on the floor with mildew growing on it. He thought that the way Lemmy was staggering all over the place, he was going to step in it. So he was going to take it away. But Lemmy saw him and slurred in a loud voice "Aww, don't take that. I was going to eat that!" So he left it for Lemmy to have for lunch! Motorhead used to get in a terrible state.'
In ten days I'll be posting extracts from chapter six -- Queen and Ace rock the world with two major Rockfield hit singles - Bohemian Rhapsody and How Long.
ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD is written by Jeff Collins and is published by The University of Wales press on sept 15th.