Why Motorhead's Lemmy wanted a teacup during our interview

Stephen Foster with a signed Motorhead LP

Foz holding a signed Motörhead promotional LP - Credit: Maggie Reeder

Radio presenter Stephen Foster recalls some memorable interviews with rock legends in his latest On Air in Suffolk column

Making the switch from insurance claims clerk to trainee radio reporter back in 1982 didn’t come easy at first.

I don't mind admitting it took me a while to feel comfortable about my move from my office desk at Willis Faber and Dumas in Friars Street in Ipswich to the busy news desk at Radio Orwell.

For the first few weeks I thought I'd made a huge mistake but I needn’t have worried. My new colleagues had a wealth of journalistic knowledge between them and they were more than happy to share it with me.

Once I eventually found my feet everything clicked into place. I loved bashing out local news stories on one of the battered old typewriters we used.

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My confidence grew, so much so that I soon became the station's unofficial Royal Correspondent. To be honest I don't think any of my colleagues fancied reporting on the numerous Royal visits that came Suffolk's way in the eighties so invariably the task fell to me.

Over the next few years I got to cover The Queen in Colchester, Prince Phillip at Sutton Hoo, Prince Charles and Lady Diana at Newmarket racecourse, Princess Diana flying solo at the Suffolk Show and numerous visits by Princess Anne who seemed to be in Suffolk more times than the rest of the Royals put together.

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During the same era I was also lucky enough to rub shoulders with rock royalty. For several years at Electric House I combined my reporting role with presenting a heavy metal show called The Headbangers' Ball.

The two hour rock show aired every Wednesday night at 8pm and listeners still talk to me about it to this very day.

One of the first big names I got to interview was the Prince of Darkness - Ozzy Osbourne. That was back in 1983 when the Ipswich Gaumont was the second date on his lengthy Bark To The Moon world tour.

A couple of hours before showtime I headed backstage to interview the support band Heavy Pettin'. Afterwards as I was making my way out I spotted a lonely looking Ozzy sitting by himself in what I have to say was a dingy dressing room, hardly big enough to swing a bat (sic) in.

I nervously introduced myself and asked him if he fancied a chat for my rock show. To my surprise he said yes but only if I got permission from his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne. That meant I had to go and find the woman who’s now been married to Ozzy for almost 40 years.

Thankfully once I’d found her she agreed to the interview and a few minutes later I was back in Ozzy's company. It wasn't the greatest of interviews but I was pleased to have spent time with him and to have survived to tell the tale.

The late Lemmy Kilmister with Motorhead at the Gaumont in October 1980

The late Lemmy Kilmister with Motorhead at the Gaumont in October 1980 - Credit: Archant

Another of the rock luminaries to appear on my rock show was Lemmy from Motörhead. That was in 1986 when he and guitarist Wurzel were promoting the band's Orgasmatron album. They were due at the studio at 2pm. Three hours and many phone calls from me later they finally arrived, clearly worse for wear having no doubt stopped off at one or two pubs on their way in.

Lemmy was carrying a briefcase which struck me as a bit strange. He was, after all, a notorious hell raiser. I took him and Wurzel down to the main studio and was just about to start the interview when Lemmy requested a teacup. I thought he must fancy a cup of tea but I was wrong. ‘“Forget the tea, just get me a teacup” was his instruction.

Off I went to the kitchen and when I returned with a teacup he opened his briefcase and produced a large bottle of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey. He filled the cup up, put the bottle away and told me he was now ready to start. 

Sadly both Lemmy and Wurzel are no longer with us. I count myself very lucky to have spent time in their company and will always treasure my signed, white label copy of their Orgasmatron album. That LP featured the song Deaf Forever which is what I thought I might be if I stayed a moment longer at an ear-splitting gig of theirs at the Ipswich Gaumont three years earlier. It was so loud I had to depart well before the end while I still had some hearing left.

Next week I’ll have some more of my Headbangers’ Ball highlights as I recall meeting Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and DJ’ing at a Twisted Sister end-of-tour party in London’s West End.

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