It was June 2012, in Camden, New Jersey. Rockstar Energy presents Mayhem Festival. Opening the show was legendary thrash band Anthrax. About 20 minutes after their set ended, the lights went dark, and the stage illuminated. Standing before a sold out crowd that was still filing in, Lemmy addressed the legions of fans in front of him with a phrase he must’ve uttered close to a million times.
“WE ARE MOTORHEAD AND WE PLAY ROCK AND ROLL.”
On Christmas Eve 1945, Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister was born in Staffordshire, England. He was abandoned at three months old by his army chaplain father. Years later, at the age of ten, his mother remarried, and moved to Northern Wales. When asked about his time there, he is quoted as saying, “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view.”
For it was in Wales that the nickname Lemmy (shorthanded for lend me) originated. It stemmed from his reputation for borrowing money to play the fruit machines (slots). Not only did the nickname stick, it became one synonymous with living the rock and roll lifestyle.
In the 1960’s, Lemmy was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, a job he got while sharing an apartment with Noel Redding (Jimi’s bassist). In the early 70s, in a pub, a band was missing their bassist. Lemmy, a guitar player, was tabbed to replace him on short notice. The band bought him a bass for the gig.
Hawkwind made him an offer to join the band so that their drummer, who also loved speed, could have a friend in debauchery. Lemmy then stayed with Hawkwind from 71-75 when he got fired for “doing the wrong drugs.” He formed a group called Bastard shortly after, but his manager had concerns that the name wouldn’t exactly play well. So, they changed it to Motorhead, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Motorhead paved the way for many bands and changed the way people viewed the bass. Lemmy would never admit that they were innovators of heavy metal, insisting instead that they played rock and roll.
They achieved their biggest success with 1981’s Ace of Spades.
Motorhead set the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for loudest band on the planet and built a massive fan base with a relentless touring schedule.
With new music coming out just about every 24 months, the band was almost always on the road or in the studio.Yet, somehow, their live shows always had the energy as that gravelly voice and signature bass sound emanated from his Marshall amp, which Lemmy dubbed Murder One.
REAL QUICK: As someone who had the pleasure of seeing them in person, let me simply state this for the record…
THEY WERE FANTASTIC LIVE!
Back to Lemmy. Speed and Jack Daniels were a way of life for the man. He tried to get clean and have his blood detoxified surgically, and the doctors would not do it because he had become so dependent on meth and Jack that it would literally kill him.
Around 1990, he let go of the speed. He continued to drink and smoke Marlboro Reds up until the day he passed, and he did it at levels that would have surely killed 99% of the population.
When serious health problems arose in 2014, he switched from Jack to vodka. The man would not quit drinking or smoking. That didn’t stop Motorhead from completing their 40th anniversary tour on December 11, even after a string of cancelled shows due to the singer’s poor health.
He was diagnosed with terminal aggressive cancer on December 26, 2015, and he was given two to six months to live. In true Lemmy fashion, he said, fuck that, and passed two days later, leaving a void that absolutely no one can fill. He took no shit, slept with over 1000 women, drank, smoked, and was just a total embodiment of the rockstar lifestyle.
Many fans, including myself, called him God, as famously stated in this clip here.
The words of Killed by Death are how I will bring this home.
Lemmy you can go easy easy easy, you’ve been Killed by Death.
Rock in Paradise, Lemmy, you’ve gone home to reclaim your throne in heaven.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: metaladdicts.com
PS: This was Scott’s first article for Nerdopotamus, but not the first one that he was involved in. A while back, he met with Mr. X to discuss an episode of Monday Night Raw. After this stellar piece, Mr. Kolich has an open invitation to write on Nerdo whenever he’d like. So, expect to see more from him.
We saw this, and knew we had to share.