Overkill: The Untold Story Of Motörhead

Overkill: The Untold Story Of Motörhead

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Writer: Joel McIver, 2011
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Price: £14.95 ($24.4)

Buy it HERE

The book title pretty much says it all. Indeed, the 238 pages of the pocket version take a close look at MOTÖRHEAD and according to the introduction “Overkill: The Untold Story Of Motörhead” fills an important gap since Lemmy’s “White Line Fever” was all about him while this book tells the story of the band.

And it absolutely does but I wouldn’t go as far as saying the story of MOTÖRHEAD hasn’t been already documented somewhere else. At least when it comes to the early years, it’s all there in “White Line Fever” but perhaps then a bit one sided then. The coolest thing with this book is that all members gets their say and it becomes very interesting reading the stories by Lemmy, “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor lined up after each other when it comes to what happened when Eddie left the band for example. Let’s just say that coin had three sides... And there is a lot of this in the book which actually is something I haven’t read too much about before. To get Wurzel’s story how he became a member of MOTÖRHEAD has also some space.

It is also fascinating to read about MOTÖRHEAD from the business perspective talking about a never-giving up band  that in the beginning was struggling to move uphill, never getting any slack from record companies while been attacked the press as the worst band in the world. Author Joel McIver has been thorough during his research for this book, to make sure to get everything in there at least up until the early 90’s for the time around “1916”, “March Or Die” and “Bastards”. Until these years, there are a lot about the records and the tours, mischiefs and manors and problems with record companies and managers. After this era though, when MOTÖRHEAD became the band we all know today, the trio of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee from “Sacrifice” and onward, it’s less about the records and tours and a lot more about Lemmy’s philosophy about War, Politics and politicians and the society in general. It is still very interesting reading and it just confirms that Lemmy is a genuinely nice guy as long as you’re nice to him and that he is really educated. But I can’t help to question if there were more stories and information available about the records and tours happening during the last 18 years. Unfortunately, this is very common in band biographies that have been around for a while, again, taking “While Line Fever” as a reference, the early days covering Lemmy’s childhood, days before HAWKWIND and of course over to MOTÖRHEAD. Then the last 10 years, up to 2002 when it was released was summarized in a few pages it felt like. It’s not exactly the same here, since “Overkill: The Untold Story Of Motörhead” at least holds a lot of contemporary interviews and stories. It’s just a bit cheap with information when it comes to facts about the releases in the recent years.

This book was published in 2011 so it does cover a lot, about a decade more than “White Line Fever”. So at least, it’s an addition to Lemmy’s book in a way. Also, it tells the story from Eddie’s, Philthy’s, Phil’s, Mikkey’s and a few more MOTÖRHEAD members over the years, at least to some extent, which is absolutely a plus. Long time MOTÖRHEAD artist Joe Petagno also gets his say on how some of the covers were designed and his relationship with the band.

The downside though is that this book was written without any direct input from MOTÖRHEAD, at least not Lemmy. Information comes from interviews by others than Joel. It’s just a bit of a shame since the book is as good as it is. Also, the language is a bit difficult on occasion, at least for one who’s not having English as native language. There’s nothing to do about quotes from Lemmy and co, written in accent which actually is the hardest to figure out and that Joel can’t be blamed for.

Anyway, “Overkill: The Untold Story Of Motörhead” is an amusing book to read regardless of the information is new to you or not and absolutely well worth reading even if “White Line Fever” already is in your bookshelf.


+Pros Getting the most of the story told from many different people, both band-members and others.

-Cons Nothing specific; good story, good writing and amusing reading - perhaps the fact that the band hasn’t been involved in the book.