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Motorhead: The story behind On Parole, the debut album that never was

Motorhead
(Image credit: Motorhead)

"Lem and I were hanging out for a long time before Hawkwind," says Lucas Fox, Motorhead's first drummer and the guy who was there for Lemmy Kilmister when he was sacked from Hawkwind for, effectively, taking the wrong drugs.

""When he got kicked out it was an amazing shock to him," says Fox. "He was a car crash… possibly depressed." 

To snap him out of it, Fox suggested he form his own band – and front it. Weirdly, says Fox, "it hadn't really crossed his mind to form his own band. I said, 'Listen if Phil Lynott [a fellow bass playing frontman] can do it...'"

The two men had bonded over the same obsessions: rock'n'roll's rabid outsiders, MC5, Mitch Ryder, the Flamin' Groovies, the Stooges. They loved The Beatles – especially ferocity of The Beatles in Hamburg, fuelled by another of their favourite obsessions, amphetamine sulphate, aka speed.

Hooking up with guitarist Larry Wallis, the fledgling Motorhead went to Rockfield Studios in Wales with producer Dave Edmunds. "It was clear that Larry also wanted more than just endless jamming," says Fox. "Prog rock was the thing... So many of the fans felt like they had nothing to do with those bands..."

Fuelled on speed and Southern Comfort, they produced On Parole. The record company, United Artists, were so appalled, they refused to release it in 1976. When Motorhead took off, they cashed in and released it in 1979, with new drummer 'Philthy Animal' Taylor recording his drums on top of it. 

The album is re-released today – a new expanded and remastered version on CD and double-LP, with unreleased tracks & demos – and below we present the story of On Parole in the words of Lucas Fox, the only member of that original line-up still standing

Lucas shrugs and takes a draw on a cigarette. "I think the amphetamines were extremely strong," he says.