Stars of rock and metal pay tribute to the late UFO bassist Pete Way

Pete Way
(Image credit: Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty Images)

Stars of rock and metal have taken to social media to pay tribute to UFO founding member and bassist Pete Way, who died on 14 August, aged 69.

Way was flamboyant and irrepressible, a kinetic stage presence who regularly tested the tensile strength of his checkerboard spandex with onstage high-kicks that were all the more impressive given he was typically shouldering a Gibson Thunderbird at the time. 

He knew how to light up a stage, with his energy helping to ensure that 1979's Strangers In The Night would remain an indelible document of UFO at the height of their powers, and one of the greatest live albums of all time. 

In a stellar career, Way also also formed Fastway with Motörhead's Fast Eddie Clark, Waysted, the Pete Way Band, touring with Ozzy Osbourne on the Diary Of A Madman tour and producing Twisted Sister's debut album, Under The Blade.

In an emotional video tribute, Twisted Sister's Dee Snider described Way as the band's "shepherd and guide" in the heavy metal community, looking out for them when they were supporting Motörhead. "He got 'Fast' Eddie Clark to do a solo on Under The Blade, and that was cool," said Snider. "He was always a lovely person, a great guy – a true rock 'n roller."

Way was a chief inspiration to players such as Iron Maiden's Steve Harris and Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx. Like Way in the early days, Harris adopted a P-Bass as his weapon of choice. Like Way, Sixx would take to the Thunderbird. 

I have so many fond and hilarious memories of touring with Pete and UFO back in the '80s. A true rock & roll character

Geddy Lee

After Way succumbed to life-threatening injuries sustained in an accident two months ago, stars from rock and metal posted their memories and tributes of one of rock's most iconic bassists, and – more importantly – a good man with a wicked sense of humour. 

Via a statement on Rush’s Twitter page, Geddy Lee spoke of “fond and hilarious” memories from touring together: “I once asked Pete about his bass sound, and he said, ‘Well, Glee.. it's uh...3/4 good, and 1/4 ...not very nice!’ I have so many fond and hilarious memories of touring with Pete and UFO back in the '80s. A true rock & roll character, always ‘takin' the piss’ as they would say in his homeland.”

Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, who plays in UFO tribute band Flight To Mars wrote on Twitter: “Sad to hear one of my favorite bass players, Pete Way from UFO died today. UFOs live album Strangers In The Night is one of the best and I’m grateful that record helped me grow up in music and as a guitar player.”

He was always a lovely person, a great guy – a true rock 'n roller

Dee Snider

Tesla's Brian Wheat described Way as a friend and a hero. “He was my hero when I was a kid I wanted to be just like him,” he wrote on Facebook. “To this day I still play my Gibson Thunderbird because of him. We became very good friends And every time I saw him he would always make me laugh. I’m glad I got to see him last year. RIP my dear friend Don’t chase to much trouble up there.”

See more
See more
See more

Goodnight legend. It was always a pleasure. RIP Pete Way. 📷@rosshalfin Scott Ian

A photo posted by @scottianthrax on Aug 14, 2020 at 3:44pm PDT

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.