Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, who played drums on Motörhead’s iconic early catalog, has died. Guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who played in the same lineup with Taylor, announced the news on Facebook, claiming the drummer had been suffering from an unspecified illness “for some time.” Taylor was 61.
“My dear friend and brother passed away last night,” Clarke wrote on Facebook Thursday. “He had been ill for some time but that does not make it any easier when the time finally comes. I have known Phil since he was 21 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. Rest in peace, Phil!”
Although he was not Motörhead’s original drummer, Taylor joined in time to play on their debut, On Parole, through 1983’s Another Perfect Day. He played the bombastic rattle that introduces the trio’s iconic “Overkill,” kept breakneck pace with frontman Lemmy Kilmster on their biggest hit “Ace of Spades” and provided the engine for the group’s celebrated 1981 live album No Sleep ’til Hammersmith. He left the band in 1984, but rejoined in 1987 (calling his time away a vacation) until he parted ways with the group – either quitting or as the result of being fired, depending on the story – during the recording of 1992’s March ör Die.
Taylor was born in Hasland, England in 1954 and joined Motörhead in 1975, as he knew Kilmster casually and – as the group’s frontman put it – owned a car and could transport his own gear unlike their previous drummer Lucas Fox. Taylor had met Clarke at a time when the latter was a foreman working on a houseboat, trying to fund his own music career; the drummer subsequently introduced Clarke to Kilmister as a replacement for guitarist Larry Wallis, who quit to rededicate his time to the Pink Fairies. The drummer and guitarist remained friends in the years since.
After he left Motörhead, Taylor played in the Web of Spider, which featured a former Iggy Pop guitarist, Capricorn – rounded out by former Danzig, Monster Magnet and Nashville Pussy members – and with the Deviants, occasional Motörhead lyricist Mick Farren’s band. He also worked on a project with former W.A.S.P. guitarist Chris Holmes.
“I tried to jam with people, here and there, who were putting different bands together,” Taylor said in a 2005 documentary on the Ace of Spades album, according to Ultimate Classic Rock. “I always got the feeling that I did this before. It may sound a bit cliché, 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.”
In 2011, when asked whether he still spoke with Taylor and Clarke, Kilmister said he did occasionally. “I like Phil,” he said, according to Blabbermouth. “He was my best mate.”
Last November, Taylor and Clarke joined Kilmister onstage at a Motörhead gig in Birmingham, England. Although the guitarist would join the group for “Ace of Spades,” Taylor simply came out and waved at the crowd. Video of the appearance shows him talking into a mic, but his words are inaudible.
The members of Motörhead posted a loving tribute to the drummer on Facebook: “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.”