Larry Wallis, who served as Motörhead’s first guitarist, has died at the age of 70. As of time of writing, the cause of death has not been released.
He’d been a veteran of the British progressive and metal scenes by the time he joined Motörhead, having started out in 1970 as a member of Shagrat, a band founded by Steve Peregrin Took after he left Tyrannosaurus Rex. From there, he moved on to Blodwyn Pig, which was followed by a stint in UFO in 1972. He also spent a few years fronting the Pink Fairies, during which time they recorded Kings of Oblivion.
After the break-up of the Pink Fairies, Wallis got together with Lemmy Kilmister, whom he knew from when the Pink Fairies played on the same billed as Lemmy’s former band, Hawkwind. They formed Motörhead, with drummer Lucas Fox, signed with United Artists and recorded On Parole, with Wallis penning the title track and co-writing three others. But Fox left during the sessions, and they hired Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor as his replacement.
However, the label wasn’t thrilled with the end result and refused to release it. Then, Motörhead brought in a second guitarist, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, and Wallis, dissatisfied, left the band. On Parole eventually came out in 1979, after Motörhead’s classic line-up had begun to enjoy some commercial success.
Larry Wallis returned to a re-formed Pink Fairies for a few years, and served as a recording artist and producer for Stiff Records, the label that introduced Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and the Damned to the world. During this period, the Wreckless Eric albums A Louder Silence and Wreckless Eric were also produced by Wallis. Additionally, Wallis recorded a song single ‘Police Car’/’On Parole’ for Stiff. The single was produced by Nick Lowe and the track was later covered by The Members.
He parted ways with Stiff in 1980, and went on to a few ad hoc projects, and returned to the Pink Fairies for another stint during in the late 1980s. The band recorded and released a new album Kill ‘Em and Eat ‘Em in 1987. He also released the solo album, Death In The Guitafternoon in 2001.
“I never felt part of Musicbizland,” Wallis told Rob Hughes in Uncut in 2002. “This, along with my track record with the Motorhead and Fairies’ history meant that, to record companies, I was a drug-taking, bar-jockey kinda guy. Which, of course, with a look over my shoulder, was bang on the money. It was suggested by a chum that I buy the hardware, get a website, make the thing, and sell it to ’em. I guess the next move is going out to show off in public with some musos who — and this is important — are better than I am. If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right.”