A couple of weeks ago we had the great pleasure and privilege of being visited by former Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell, currently of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons. At The Great Frog, we’ve always had a close relationship with Motörhead, and they have played an important part in our success, something we will always be incredibly thankful and grateful for. At the day of what was meant to be an interview but instead ended up more of walk down memory lane for Phil as well as an impromptu acoustic version of ‘Going to Brazil’.
As Phil arrived in the shop nearly drowned from the torrential rain outside, he instantly walked up to our ‘Hellraiser’ skull ring, a ring that owner Reino carved inspired by the late, great Lemmy; ‘Jesus, it looks just like the fucker, I need to get this one.’
“We’re all here now, what do you guys wanna talk about? Playboy? Playgirl? Maybe play monkeys? Maybe I can tell you about the first time I ever met Lemmy, I was 12 years old and went to see Hawkwind at the Capitol Theatre in Cardiff, a venue which is no longer there. I loved the show and it freaked me out completely, it was the scariest thing I had ever seen in my life, all strobe lights and ‘Do not panic!’. The music rocked! I hung around for a bit outside after, and Lem was the only one who came into the foyer after the show. I still have the programme somewhere in my house, and it’s got this messy doodle of ‘Lemmy’ autographed onto it, and that was the first time I ever met him.
Years later while in a band called Persian Risk, I saw in a magazine, Kerrang or whatever it was, that Motörhead was looking for a new guitarist. The wife told me to go ahead and audition for it but I just brushed it a bit under the carpet. Eventually, I ended up sending over a cheap cassette with some crap I’d recorded and thought nothing of, until I came back home from work one day when she said; ‘Oh Phil’, and I remember this was on a Tuesday, ‘Phil, the Motörhead people have phoned up, can you learn 18 songs by Friday?’ ‘Fucking hell…’ So I turned up to audition and so did Wurzel, and it was quite weird because I knew that Phil Taylor wanted one of us, and Lemmy wanted the other, but we never knew who wanted who.
As we all know, we both ended up joining the band. I always thought Lemmy wanted Wurzel and Phil Taylor wanted me, but I recently found out it was the other way around. The cassette I sent was horrible as well, a bunch of crap I played back home in my bedroom, but it did get me into Motörhead, which is fantastic.
Later in life, Lemmy ended up moving to LA, a place where everyone drives. But no, not him, he never drove, so for about 15 years when we were recording in Los Angeles, I’d always pick him up. At some point, we found out they’d been gluing some cheap ashtrays into our rental cars, which we didn’t like at all. We were both big smokers, and didn’t like the idea of this shitty plastic cup glued to these fancy cars, so I ended up buying my own car for the sole reason it had a crystal ashtray. It was a real expensive one as well, a white Rolls Royce Clenet. Matt Sorum from Guns ’n’ Roses called me one day and said he’d seen this old Rolls Royce for sale on Santa Monica boulevard and he asked me to check it out for him as he was out of town, I said I would, and also promised I’d get it for him if it was any good.
I checked it out and as I was leaving, I saw this other car parked outside – ‘Candy Spelling’ it had on it, Aaron Spelling’s wife, apparently she was the previous owner. The salesman was giving me the lowdown on this car, who it had belonged to, how many miles it had on it, and most importantly, that it had a crystal ashtray mounted in it. That settled it for me, and I ended up getting it. It’s pretty rare, the Clenet, only 250 ever made. Stallone’s got two, Farrah Fawcett had one, so did Ringo Starr, Charlie Sheen and the wrestler guy Vince McMahon. I guess that may have been the world’s most expensive and extravagant ashtray, but it worked well for Lemmy and me.
It’s tragic to think that on a lot of our albums, like 1916, I’m the only one left of the four of us. I’m sure the boys wouldn’t want me to go morbid on the situation, they’d want me to carry on and keep making music. Being in Motörhead, we toured relentlessly for three decades, and despite it being an experience I never would have been without, it was exhausting and I missed out on a lot of other very important life events, like the birth of my second son, as well as his graduation.
It was tough on the road, my mum past away while I was on out there and I had to do five gigs straight after. I sacrificed a hell of a lot, and did what I had to do for my career. Luckily, I have an amazing wife I married before joining Motörhead and this madness, so she never married me for my money. Plus, Motörhead’s been very good to me, and I like to think I’ve been very good to Motörhead. I really am mega proud of everything we’ve achieved over the years. I’m not trying to impress everyone, but I write what I think is good, I always have and will be doing so with my new band The Bastard Sons as well, we’ve got a fucking killer album out 26th of January on Nuclear Blast Records, and I’m so excited for it to be released! I’ll be back on the road, and I’m hoping to see the lot of you out there!”
– Phil Campbell, December 2017
So, needless to say, recapping through 30 years on the road with Motörhead, there will be a lot of stories not suited for the fainthearted or average reader, which must stay within the four walls of The Great Frog, so let’s leave it with this quote from the captain himself;
“If you didn’t do anything that wasn’t good for you it would be a very dull life. What are you gonna do? Everything that is pleasant in life is dangerous.”