Lemmy died on Tuesday.
Everyone was pretty shocked. Cancer’s a bastard though – it’ll cut anyone down in a stroke, even the world’s hardest rock star.
People paid their respects to Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister with all the usual platitudes. I recall ‘RIP Lemmy’ trending on Twitter for a while. Well, if there’s one thing Lemmy’s definitely NOT going to doing in death, it’s ‘resting in peace’.
This is a man who drank a bottle of JD every day since the age of 30, a man who smoked like a top, a man who slept with thousands of women, a man who sung on his biggest hit:
“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby, I don’t want to live forever.”
In fact, a man who – legend has it – had actually already died a few times, only to repel Beelzebub’s advances and cling onto this mortal coil. Probably chased him off with his bitchin’ Rickenbacker bass guitar.
Yes, Lemmy will be raising hell in an afterlife of his choosing. I’m quite sure of that.
He found fame with his vocal on Hawkwind’s 1972 classic Silver Machine, only to be kicked out of the band a few years later for his drug habits. It was a blessing in disguise.
Lemmy founded Motörhead in 1975, who went on to become one of the most enduring rock and roll bands of all time.
It was a pretty simple formula – distort everything; growl over the top of it; look really REALLY cool on stage, in interviews, on telly, etc. And then keep doing it for 35 years.
I saw Motörhead back in 2006 supporting the Foo Fighters and I swear my ears are still ringing from the experience. They even teamed up with Dave Grohl and co for a rendition of Probot’s Shake Your Blood. It was gnarly.
And in a bizarre feat of billing, Motörhead brought untold hedonism to clean-cut Guildford institution GuilFest (RIP) back in 2009 (retrospective penned in the wake of Lemmy’s passing by yours truly).
While I can’t profess to being a Motörhead afficionado (their ‘best of’ is quite enough for me), Lemmy was emblematic of a rock and roll ethos, spirit, mystique – call it what you will – that simply does not exist any more. One that likely dies with him.
Yes, his chums Ozzy Osbourne and Dave Grohl will carry the flag in his stead, but they don’t make them like Lemmy any more – and they never will.
While Motörhead were undoubtedly influential to an extent; Lemmy was more than just influential.
He was an institution. He embodied the rock and roll myth. He proved it could be true. The revelation this week he was nothing more than a mere mortal is not a comfortable one.
Like The Dude in The Big Lebowski, it was good to know Lemmy was out there, ‘takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners’.
Anyhoo. Here are my three favourite ‘Lemmy things’ that weren’t to do with Motorhead.
- Probot – Shake Your Blood
- His appearance in the Foo Fighters’ White Limo video
- Hawkwind – Silver Machine
I don’t want to live forever either, frankly.