Edward Allan Clarke – known to several generations of hard rock lovers as Fast Eddie Clarke, co-founder of punk-thrash-metal juggernaut Motorhead – has died after a bout with pneumonia. He was 67. The announcement was made on Thursday morning, via Motorhead's official Facebook page.
Clarke was the last surviving member of the original Motorhead. Founder, bassist and vocalist Lemmy Kilmister died in December of 2015. Drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor preceded him by 6 weeks.
Clarke's influence is difficult to overestimate. Motorhead emerged from the late 70s British rock scene during punk's heyday and enjoyed massive UK success and cult status in the US, mainly in the brief window between the early 80s explosion of hard rock and primal metal and the arrival of glam- and hair-metal in the middle years of that decade.
Clarke was a true rocker, a guitarist whose influences were in primal rock 'n' roll. He played with frenetic energy of punk rock, but his riffs were comprised of double-stopped, heavy walls of sound and and rapid-fire, blues-based runs that suggested familiarity with rockabilly. Clarke was a workhouse, a player with no interest in the technique-over-substance, flash-centric playing of the 80s metal era.
Motorhead, particularly this first, definitive lineup of the band, was the diametric opposite of a "pretty boy" band. They were fierce, ugly, louder than a bomb, and relentless in their riffage.
Clarke's list of definitive performances includes Motorhead classics like "Iron Fist," "Ace of Spades," "Metropolis," "Stay Clean," "Overkill" and "Iron Horse." One can hear echoes of this pivotal work in the entirety of the Metallica catalog, in the work of countless "pschobilly" bands, and even in the approach of seminal industrial bands like Ministry and White Zombie.
It is far too tempting to refuse closing with an iconic Lemmy lyric from Motorhead's "Ace of Spades."
"You Know I'm born to lose/and gambling is for fools/But that's the way I like it, baby/I don’t wanna live forever."