Motörhead’s spirit of punk invaded hard rock for the first time on record on 21 August 1977. It was the date that marked the release of their self-titled debut album by Chiswick Records.
The band were named after the final song written by Lemmy before he was invited to leave Hawkwind in 1975, after a certain contretemps at Canadian customs. There’d been discussion of the new band being called Bastard, but that suggestion was ditched, perhaps wisely.
The interim period had been spent searching for a record deal until Ted Carroll’s Chiswick came to Motörhead’s aid. It was not a moment too soon for Lemmy, who confessed to Sounds in 1977 about his dismissal from Hawkwind: “When that band kicked me out, I couldn’t believe it. I just broke down and cried. For two days I didn’t know or care what was happening. But you have to put yourself together again.”
Motörhead’s full-on sound brought much of the spirit of the new wave that was happening around it into the hard rock arena. Featuring the power trio of Lemmy, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor, the band raced through the recording sessions under the watchful eye of John ‘Speedy’ Keen, who in the previous pop generation had been the writer of Thunderclap Newman’s UK No. 1 of 1969, ‘Something in The Air.’
The album had only modest success, reaching No. 43 on the UK charts, and it would be the turn of the 1980s before Motörhead really hit their stride as a recording force, on their way to 30 million album sales worldwide. But Lemmy was in confident mood about the new band when he spoke to ZigZag magazine about their increasing popularity as a live act in 1977.
“We get everyone, disillusioned Hawkwind people in plimsolls and greatcoats, a few punks…it’s good, you know. If somebody gets off, I don’t care if he’s got a bald head and a bolt going through it.”
Follow the Rock Hits playlist.