Former Motorhead drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor died on Wednesday (Nov. 11), ex-bandmate “Fast” Eddie Clarke confirms. He was 61.
“My dear friend and brother passed away last night,” Clarke says. “He had been ill for sometime but that does not make it any easier when the time finally comes.”
Born on Sept. 21, 1954 in England, Taylor wasn’t Motorhead’s first drummer. Instead, he replaced Lucas Fox during the recording of their initial album, On Parole. An unkempt, completely rock and roll presence, Taylor would play a huge role in defining their sound, working with Lemmy Kilmister from 1975–84 – a period that included Motorhead’s signature album Ace of Spades – and then again from 1987–92, when Taylor made a final appearance on “I Ain’t No Nice Guy” from March Or Die. Clark and Taylor also issued Naughty Old Santa’s Christmas Classics together in 1989.
“I have known Phil since he was 21,” Clarke says, “and he was one hell of a character. Fortunately, we made some fantastic music together and I have many many fond memories of our time together.”
During his initial period away from Motorhead, Phil Taylor worked with fellow band alum Brian Robertson in the band Operator. After a second tenure with Lemmy, Taylor collaborated with former members of Iggy Pop‘s group, Danzig, Monster Magnet and W.A.S.P., among others. He never again found a setting that so perfectly suited his unique approach to music – and life.
“I tried to jam with people, here and there, who were putting different bands together,” Taylor said during during 2005’s Ace Of Spades: Classic Albums documentary. “I always got the feeling that I did this before. It may sound a bit cliche, or you may or may not want to believe me, but I just can’t bring myself to play if I’m just going through the motions. I’d rather not play.”
The band paid tribute to Taylor on its Facebook page, writing, “Lil’ Philthy … he who once shouted ‘stop wincing about’ on an album … he who fueled many a young boy’s punk/metal hairstyles … he who played the drums with fury and intent … he who liked to call people ‘wazzocks’ once in a while … friend, Roman, Derbyshireman … rest in peace. With much love … ”
Taylor returned most recently for a brief reunion during a Nov. 6, 2014 Motorhead show, though – true to his words – he didn’t get behind the drums.
Taylor played through a number of injuries over the years, including a neck fracture. Faced with a broken hand, Taylor once taped his stick in place to keep playing. Rumors about his declining health have been circulating for years, leading the group to humorously address them during the same Classic Albums documentary.
Motörhead – Ace Of Spades