Pete Way, best known for being the founding member and bassist in some of Britain’s famous heavy rock bands – UFO, Fastway and Waysted – died at the age of 69 on August 14, according to a post on the musician’s official Facebook page.
The influential guitarist left behind a family as well as dozens of bassists and rock musicians who credited him with inspiring their careers and interest in playing bass.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Way Was Married & Had 2 Children
Way was born August 7, 1951, in Middlesex, England and started his musical career in high school.
He would eventually get married to his wife Jenny. He has two daughters from previous relationships. Jenny was instrumental in helping save his life from symptoms of a heart attack that he had later in life:
“My husband Pete Way has collapsed after a short business trip to Germany and is currently in hospital. He has had a heart attack and a blood clot has been found on his lung. Needless to say, I am in bits, but Pete is fighting like he always does. We are NOT going to lose another one. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers,” she wrote when he had his heart attack, according to Livewire.
In an interview with Louder Sound, Way said that his wife forced him to go to the emergency room where doctors told him that a clot “had been building up for months, years even – and they got to me just in time.”
When asked what he believed his musical legacy would be during an interview with Antihero, Way credited Michael Schenker and others for helping his career become what it did:
Well, I just love to play rock music, you know. I’m old now. I pretend I’m not old but you look back and you go, you can’t, sort of not count the years. I don’t know. I’ve had a unique opportunity to play with some very good people. I don’t know. Like you asked me about influential. That’s Michael Schenker but there’s a list of people that I couldn’t have done what I did without them.
2. Way Was A Founding Member of UFO, Fastway & Waysted
According to Guitar World, Way founded UFO with his friends, Phil Mogg, Andy Parker, Mick Bolton and eventually Michael Schenker when he was still in high school. Way would play with the group off-and-on for 31 years, Loudwire reported.
Way left for a time in 1983, according to Guitar World, to found the other bands. He formed Fastway with “Fast” Eddie Clarke from Motörhead, Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and the bassist for Ozzy Osbourne. He also founded Waysted with Paul Raymond (a keyboardist and guitarist), Fun Muir, Frank Noon and Ronnie Kayfield. After eight successful albums, he rejoined UFO in 1992.
In the press release about his death, Way was described as an important musician in the world of heavy rock: “Best known for his work with UFO, Pete’s energetic live performances were at the heart of the band’s countless world tours. His melodic bass lines underpinned the catalogue of enduring rock classics upon which UFO’s reputation and legacy were founded.”
Way eventually formed his own band, the Pete Way Band and released a solo album, “Walking On The Edge.”
3. Way Collaborated With Some of The Best Musicians Of His Time
Way, along with Motorhead guitarist Eddie Clarke, were responsible for the bass when Ozzy Osbourne was performing in Britain on the band’s Speak of the Devil tour, Loudwire reported. Way also played with the Michael Schenker Group.
He was also a producer, according to the press release, who used his song arrangement skills to work with Twisted Sister and the Cockney Rejects.
Along with working with Clarke from Motorhead, he also worked with Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and Guns N’ Roses’ producer Mike Clink. His legacy of influence reached far beyond that, however. Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx and Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello have all credited Way with being their inspiration.
4. Way Had Battled Health Issues Before His Death
Way had experienced a number of health issues in the past decade; prostate cancer in 2013 and a heart attack three years later, Guitar World reported. “Yeah. No, I had prostate cancer and I’ve had three minor heart attacks. But you know. Take life as it comes,” Way told Antihero in 2019.
The damage from those events lingered, with Way telling Classic Rock, “I haven’t fully recovered from the prostate cancer. I had 11 tumours and the radiotherapy was intense. I’m not quite fully back from that, fully functioning, but it’s better. They say it takes two years to properly get over it.”
However, his death was attributed to “life-threatening injuries” from an accident that he had two months ago, according to a press release; the type of accident and the nature of his injuries were not disclosed. The release continued, noting that he “fought hard until finally succumbing to those injuries at 11:35 a.m. BST (6:35 a.m. EST) today. His wife, Jenny, was at his side … Pete was survived by his two daughters, Zowie and Charlotte and his younger brother, Neill.”
5. Musicians Have Had An Outpouring Of Support After His Death
Michael Schnecker wrote a tribute on Facebook, in which he described himself as sad for the loss of his friend told him he loved him.
Thin Lizzy’s Damon Johnson wrote on Twitter that the world had “lost another legend today. Pete Way was a major influence on so many. And not just on how to write and record great music, but how to look cool as f**k in the process.”
Nikki Sixx wrote his tribute on Instagram: “RIP Rockstar. One of my main influences. Gotta go listen to some UFO tonight. Posted 🖤 @withregram • @rosshalfin Pete Way RIP…. It is with the greatest of sadness I post this. Of all the people I’ve known and toured with, in his day Pete was the most fun and he remained a good friend. ‘Light’s Out In London’ really says it all. #rosshalfin #peteway #ufo.”
Way’s former colleague Mike McCready 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. 1/2 … @FTMSeattle, my UFO tribute band, has played over 17 years raising money and awareness for Camp Oasis for kids with #CrohnsAndColitis. Stone and I have had many conversations over the years of our love for UFO. Pete was essential and will be missed. RIP 2/2.”
Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler wrote, “This year keeps getting worse. Pete Way, one of the “characters” of metal and fellow
@AVFCOfficial supporter has passed. He supported Deadland Ritual on the show in London. Very funny man. RIP Pete..”