TO ANYONE THAT that met him, Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor was a man whose sense of mischief was keenly defined. His humour was often on display via his line of eccentric, custom-made T-shirts (a firm favourite read: Whale Oil Beef Hooked), and his quick-witted conversation. But, above, all Taylor was possessed with a unique drumming style that fitted Motörhead’s approach perfectly.
Taylor cajoled his way into the nascent Motörhead line-up in 1975, joining Lemmy and replacing original drummer Lucas Fox. It was the aspiring 21 year-old drummer who recommended guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke as a replacement for Larry Wallis, thereby completing the band’s classic line-up.
In many respects, Motörhead’s musical approach was instantly unorthodox. Taylor, for instance, played off Clarke’s guitar, allowing Lemmy’s bass a free reign with the band’s thunderous sound. While he re-recorded a number of Fox’s drum parts on the sessions that made up the On Parole album (recorded 1975, shelved by United Artists until 1979), it was his presence on the band’s second album, Overkill, that truly crystallised the band’s approach.
“Taylor possessed a unique drumming style that fitted Motörhead perfectly.”
By way of proof you only have to listen to the double kick-drum introduction to the album’s title track that opens the album: Taylor’s playing is fast and loose, underpinning Lemmy’s machine gunning bass. The version of that track on the chart-topping live set, No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, is even more maniacal, his pace unrelenting.
Indeed, that pace was matched in Taylor’s appetite for life. Despite being nine years Lemmy’s junior, the pair formed a firm friendship that lasted down the years. Taylor contributed much to the seven studio albums that followed in the wake of 1979’s Overkill before he was ejected for the band due to increasingly erratic behaviour.
His exit would mean that Motörhead would never be the same again. Equally, Taylor struggled to find a gig that suited him.
While Taylor had been ill for a while, his passing during the evening of November 11, 2015, at the age of 61 came as a shock, the news being confirmed by Clarke on his Facebook page in an emotional post.
His passing will cause Motörhead fans to reflect on a time when Lemmy, Eddie and Phil truly seemed like the perfect band, the last gang in town – an unstoppable force in a world full of anodyne compromise. We will truly miss him…
PHOTO: Getty Images