I didn’t want the year to end before mentioning Lemmy, who sadly died on Boxing Day. Motorhead’s Facebook page has encouraged us to share our memories. They say
“We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.
We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please…play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD.
Have a drink or few.
Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.
HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
Born to lose, lived to win.”
I can’t say it any better than that, But for the record, here are my memories of the great man…
The first heavy rock song I ever heard was “Motörhead” by Motörhead.
It was 1981 and I was on my summer holidays. The song was on a jukebox in a campsite’s youth club in a room containing the heady mixture of a pool table, fizzy pop and a dozen other kids. I saw the name, put in my 10p and put it on for a laugh. When it came on we all looked at each other in amusement and disbelief. Having been raised on a diet of church hymns and Radio 2, I thought it was hilarious, this ludicrously loud and fast music, so unlike anything I had heard before.
I always felt the humour in Lemmy’s lyrics was overlooked.
In 1984 Lemmy appeared on the best show on TV, The Young Ones, and made it even better. He didn’t even need to be funny.
Two years later I took my first ever trip to Donington’s Monsters of Rock festival. The first band I saw onstage there was Motörhead. They had just released a brilliant new album called Orgasmatron, which I had bought on cassette. The first Motörhead album I owned.
Mid-set, a lighted flare was thrown from the crowd onto the stage, narrowly missing Lemmy and his drummer. Right in the middle of the set, Lemmy stopped and launched a furious tirade against the miscreant. I forget the exact words but remember enough to say the gist was he hadn’t slaved away for the past ten years or more, playing every night on the road to have fireworks thrown at him by some idiot.
There he stood, this rock n roll Silverback, against a sea of sixty-odd thousand denim clad bikers, Hells Angels and long-hairs, making each and every one of us completely clear, in case there was any doubt, that he was the toughest, hardest bloke on the field.
He was magnificent.
When I saw Motörhead make their comeback after Lemmy’s heart problems at Hyde Park in the summer of 2014 it was therefore quite a shock to see the difference in him from the image burned in my memory from that day in 1986. It shouldn’t have been a surprise given the passage of time of course, but on that stage at Donington Lemmy just appeared so… immortal.
He fronted it out at Hyde Park, but the contrast was striking.
It seems entirely in character that Lemmy managed to continue to perform shows despite his deteriorating health. Thanks to Lemmy’s grit and determination many of us got to see Motörhead perform again and we can only believe it’s what he would have wanted.
But the Lemmy I want to remember is the one on that field near Nottingham in 1986, the biggest Alpha Male there, demanding – and getting – total respect from everyone.
Please feel free to post your condolences, well wishes and memories on Motorhead’s official tribute page:
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