“I am the master of the wind-up!” declares Phil Campbell, gleefully. As a man who spent over 30 years as a member of Motörhead, the Welsh guitarist is well versed in the art of causing chaos on tour.
The pinnacle of his mischief arguably came when Motörhead joined the Metal Masters tour, a 17-show run that snaked its way across the U.S. and Canada in the summer of 2008. Also on the bill were opening act Testament along with Heaven & Hell – the band featuring Black Sabbath founding members Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler along with frontman Ronnie James Dio and drummer Vinny Appice – and Judas Priest.
On August 21, all four bands rolled in to the 22,000-capacity Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. It was there that Phil seized his moment.
“It was the last gig of the tour and [Testament frontman] Chuck Billy made the fatal mistake of saying to me the night before, ‘Campbell, we’re going to fuck you up tomorrow night.’ I said, ‘Chuck, go away, I’m in a different league from you!’” chuckles Phil. “The next day when we reached the venue, which is near San Francisco, a runner came in to the dressing room and said ‘Do you need anything from town?’ I said, ‘Yes, get me one large horse.’”
Phil’s mount was duly supplied. The guitarist then donned a blue fright wig and an orange dress for maximum impact.
“Ronnie bought me that dress as it goes,” he explains. “I got dressed up and during Testament’s set I rode on to the stage with my arm raised like Caesar. I’d got a big massive laminate printed for the horse too and it was chaos when we rode on to that stage. And, of course, ever since then Chuck Billy has had to bow down to me!”
As the footage below shows, the guitarist was joined by his bandmates Mikkey Dee and Lemmy – the latter thoughtfully sweeping up behind Phil’s steed.
Despite the havoc wreaked during his equine escapade, he wasn’t quite finished…
“I went on and did the Motörhead gig but beforehand I’d also ordered 25 copies of USA Today, the newspaper. After we’d played I rushed out into the crowd and I said, ‘Share them about and when Heaven & Hell come on, I want everyone holding a page or two from the paper.’ So when Tony Iommi and Ronnie Dio came out, the were met with the first eight rows or so pretending to read the paper, about 400 people holding up a page or two each.”
“I was standing on the side of the stage and I looked at Ronnie and gave him the thumbs-up. I could see him thinking “That fucking c**t, Campbell!” Judas Priest wanted to cancel after that… That was a hell of day, that was!”
Phil is now midway through a full UK tour with his current band, Phil Campbell And His Bastard Sons in support of their acclaimed debut album, The Age Of The Absurdity.
Watch them in their rehearsal room here filmed exclusively for your viewing pleasure by Kerrang! and bask in Phil’s inability to get anywhere on time…
Catch Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons at the following venues:
15 York Fibbers
16 Manchester Rebellion
17 London Boston Music Room
19 Norwich Waterfront Studios
20 Birmingham Asylum
22 Cardiff The Globe
23 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
24 Plymouth The Junction