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Classic Motorhead Lineup Almost Reunited in the ’90s, Phil Campbell Says Lemmy Kilmister ‘Wanted to Go Out on a High’

Liz Ramanand, Loudwire
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire

The classic Motorhead lineup of Lemmy Kilmister, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor produced some of the most ironclad rock ‘n’ roll, delivering classic albums like OverkillBomberAce of Spades and Iron Fist and quite possibly could have done more. According to a new interview with Clarke, the band’s longest lasting lineup, consisting of Lem, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee almost has a break in the late ’90s with himself and Taylor almost rejoining temporarily.

“I talked about [reuniting the classic lineup] in the late ’90s with Lemmy. I had a serious conversation with him and it was looking pretty good,” Clarke began telling Eonmusic. He went on to reveal the details they had discussed, which might leave some Motorhead fans quite surprised. “It was kind of like; not to upset the present band – we were going to come up with maybe an acoustic thing, or one of them unplugged things, but do it in a really sort of different way; get [a female orchestra] in all the suspenders and stockings and cellos and all that – try something like that,” the guitarist continued, adding, “And obviously I’d have loved to have gotten back together, but Lemmy, he couldn’t face down his band, really – he felt too guilty.”

Clarke even mentioned “there was talk of a compensation package” for Campbell and Dee as they would have been required to take a year off from the band in order for the reunion to take place. He went on to say he didn’t think Lemmy “had the stomach” to dismiss his bandmates, even if it wasn’t permanent, noting the loyalty that had likely set in considering Campbell had been Motorhead’s guitarist since 1984.

In other Motorhead news, in an interview with Wales Online, Campbell spoke about Kilmister’s declining health over the course of what turned out to be Motorhead’s last tour. The six-stringer noted, “He was playing better in the winter a few weeks before he passed away than he was in the summer.” He continued, “I think then I started to romanticize about things, thinking was he really indestructible? You have to remember he was 37 when I joined the band and passed away when he was 70.”

Campbell also mentioned how he and Lemmy never discussed health issues, instead focusing on the music. “Lem wanted to carry on and wanted to play,” he said. “Although he was playing great on the last European tour he wasn’t looking great and he was getting thin, but he performed brilliantly. It was all he wanted. He wanted to play. He didn’t want to sit around the house waiting to die. He wanted to go out on a high.”

After Lemmy’s tragic passing, Motorhead were met with an unprecedented outpouring of love from fans around the world with tributes to the icon still cropping up now and then. “The outpouring of grief from everyone and the kind words and support. It was really something else,” commented Campbell. “I knew Motorhead had great support all these years, but to the extent that it was just blew my mind.”

Kilmister passed away on Dec. 28, just four days after celebrating his 70th birthday. The cause of death was ruled to be a combination of prostate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia and congestive heart failure.

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