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Special Brew and Pink Speedos – Lemmy RIP

Illustration: Word Repeats


Lemmy touched a staggering amount of people’s lives in his 70 rock n’roll years on Planet Earth and almost all of these experiences were positive and genuine. Sure, he could be a cantankerous bastard and equally told as many people to fuck off – but they probably deserved it. He was a man of rare integrity, conviction and passion and he compromised for no one.
When news broke of his death the outpouring of affection was vast and overwhelming. Everyone had a story to tell, a memory to share. From punks to rockers to every aspect of alternative culture, to the mainstream who held him high as a figurehead of rock, his influence is far-reaching. But the stories keep coming back to what a gentleman he was. He always had time for people and didn’t fall into the rock star ego trap. His manager Todd Singerman recently stated: “He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. The proof would be to go ask his fans. He never denied someone an autograph, he bought the fans drinks instead of them buying him drinks”.

I first met Lemmy when I was ten years old at a charity football event that my father took me to. I’m pretty certain that Motörhead’s legendary frontman wasn’t kicking a ball around but he was there, I got his autograph and he patted my head. I thought he was cool as fuck. Then in my early twenties I interviewed him for Metal Hammer magazine around the time of the release of their ‘1916’ album. He turned up at the offices at 10.30am with a four pack of Special Brew, sat by my desk, drank the lot and churned out pearls of wisdom after wisdom. I was in total awe of him. I had to do the ‘single’s reviews’ and played some of the latest rock releases on a turntable by my desk for him to comment on, one of which was ‘Sliver’ by Nirvana which I was raving about. “ Yeah, I like that one”, he said. “It’s really interesting and they’re having a go at something by themselves and not just copying someone else. Good one.” It’s fair to say that drinking Special Brew and spinning vinyl with Lemmy on a week day morning is a memory I’ll cherish.

Ph: “Despite my appearance, believe me, I am a gentleman”

lemmy and claire

My wife has a fantastic Lemmy story that I want to share. Her and a friend were nearing the end of a US road trip in the early 90s, ending up in LA. They were staying at a rough motel at the wrong end of Sunset Boulevard and a gang had tried to break into their room the previous night, so they were scared to return. They were at The Rainbow and started drinking with Lemmy who was famously a regular, and told him their story. He showed concern at two young vulnerable girls with little money and invited them back to his apartment rather than return to the motel late at night. They agreed with some trepidation given Lemmy’s reputation with the ladies, but his behaviour was entirely chivalrous. They spent a fun-filled 2 days hanging out in his apartment, drinking endless bourbon and cokes being regaled with debauched stories from a life of hell-raising. He played them new tracks which were to feature on ‘Bastards’, the album he was working on at the time, allowed them to nose through his collection of Nazi memorabilia whilst he sunbathed in bright pink speedos, and (at their direction) posed for some hilariously inappropriate souvenir polaroids. 
The stories go on and on. It’s been heartbreaking over the last year to see Lemmy looking so frail and ill. We all wanted him to live forever. If Lemmy is around still, then all is well with the world. When they played Hyde Park in 2014 with Black Sabbath, Lemmy really struggled and they weren’t on good form. It was so sad to witness. But then a few months later Motorhead played at Wembley Arena with The Damned and they were back to full power and awesome again. That night they were incredible. The greatest rock n’roll band of all time, one more time.

Ph: Rummaging through Lemmy’s dressing-up box

lemmy and claire 2

Slash declared “People who live, sleep and breathe rock n’roll, the lifestyle and the attitude. There’s only a handful of guys who are still alive who represent that. And Lemmy represents that to me.”
 And now he’s gone, taking the loudest band in the world with him. My absolute hero. A benchmark in integrity and passion, principled, opinionated and unapologetic, “I don’t regret much. Fuck ’em.” We will never see his like again. A true rock n’roll warrior. Rest in noise Lemmy.

Words: James Sherry

NOTE: It’s well known that Lemmy collected Nazi regalia but essentially he was more an anarchist than a fascist. Worth noting that both women in these polaroid photos do not support Nazi fantasies.


Sonisphere Festival 2011 live review and gallery

Knebworth Park,
8th-10th July 2011

Words by Alex Gosman
Photos by Slack

heavymetal_beard_Johnny Chow_cavalera_conspiracyFRIDAY

We arrived at the festival sweating as we lurched past the usual Sonisphere sniffer dogs and managed to get there just in time for the opening track of CEREBRAL BALLZY who didn’t let us down. Hardcore made by skaters has always had an edge. The likes of JFA, Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies have paved the way for this new breed and they are taking their version on 80’s skate core to the hilt. Look out for their album this month as it’s a short, sharp shock of excitement that you need in your life.

Photo right: Johnny Chow of Cavalera Conspiracy – thanks for the beers Texan!

ANTHRAX’s sense of humour and penchant for experimentation have always set them apart from the rest of the gang, but unfortunately Joey Belladonna’s Noo Yoik bonhomie struggles to compensate for the cold winds that play havoc with their sound. Sepultura guitarist Andreas Kisser does a fine job of filling in for an absent Scott Ian, but ultimately the crowd seem more interested in keeping warm. Dark clouds gathering overhead herald the arrival of MEGADETH, who open with a suitably brooding ‘Trust’. Dave Mustaine (a.k.a. The Sulking Lion) doesn’t have much to say for himself today (as usual – Z-Ed) , but dispenses new song ‘Public Enemy No. 1’ in fine style, and the appearance of Vic Rattlehead for ‘Peace Sells…’ is a welcome surprise. (If the Big Four of metal was compared to British football, then this band are Tottenham Hotspur! Z-Ed)

You can rely on SLAYER to grab a festival by the scruff of its neck and kick the shit out of it, and today they don’t disappoint, They rip through the likes of ‘Disciple’, ‘Hate Worldwide’ and – of course- ‘Raining Blood’ with their trademark brutal speed and precision, although the most disturbing aspect of their set is the grin that Tom Araya sports as he roars through ‘Dead Skin Mask’.

Whilst Slayer’s happiness filled the main stage field, many other people who have good taste in music were witnessing the raging musical assault of BLACK BREATH. Their brash, thrash and hardcore hybrid steamrolled the tent and left everyone open mouthed. Heavy Breathing is the name of their album, do it.

METALLICA, of course, have been headlining festivals for the best part of two decades, but these old dogs can still create a sense of occasion; kicking off with a furious ‘Hit The Lights’. Most of the old favourite are present and correct, as is – unfortunately – a tedious mid-set instrumental, but the highlight is saved for the encore; with members of their Big Four brethren joining them for a stage-swamping romp through Diamond Head’s ‘Am I Evil?’. Lars Ulrich looks like he’s about to explode with joy, and we leave feeling pretty damn satisfied too.

We manage to sneak into the Bohemia tent for a quick blast of KILLING JOKE, and although it’s really our feet that are killing us, the band still get us dancing and hollering with a suitably visceral ‘Wardance’. Jaz Coleman is as much a demonic preacher as a vocalist, and long may he remain so.


For those feeling a bit sore from the night before (including us), RICHARD CHEESE & LOUNGE AGAINST THE MACHINE are a welcome proposition, inducing a wide sea of grins in the crowd as they reinterpret various rock and metal classics in a smooth lounge style. ARCHITECTS are on rabid form, inciting a tsunami of crowd surfers within minutes of hitting the stage, but it is GALLOWS that prove the pick of the early bunch. No longer the underdogs of old, they’ve mutated into a raucous rock n’ roll behemoth that eats stages of this size for breakfast; and although thew news of Frank Carter’s imminent departure from the ranks is sad indeed, you can’t deny that he’s bowing out on top.

BAD RELIGION fare less well; the rain ensuring that the SoCal veterens play to a somewhat depleted crowd on the Apollo stage. The handful of recent tracks suggest that Greg Graffin’s crew aren’t content to rest on their laurels just yet, but in a festival setting, the likes of ‘Suffer’ and ‘Generator’ would have been more welcome. (Shame they also ended the set with Graffin forgetting the words! Z-Ed)

Over now to the smaller stages for some impressive new blood. REVOKER offer up some fierce but streamlined thrash/groove anthems that prove more substantial than most of the fare coming from their South Wales musical brethren. Leeds’ PULLED APART BY HORSES, meanwhile, are gloriously unhinged; vocalist Tom Hudson almost screeching himself hoarse over a cauldron of thunderous riffs and scattergun rhythms. Watch out for these two.

WEEZER prove to be one of the highlights of the weekend; unleashing a wonderfully melodic set that does not feature a single bad song. Rivers Cuomo is in a playful mood, hopping down onto the barrier for a bizarre but entertaining cover of Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’, and by the time they close with ‘Buddy Holly’, they have the crowd in the palm of their collective hand. Oh, and bonus points for banishing the rain as well.

BIFFY CLYRO don’t need the underdog sympathy vote any more; they’ve got more than enough quality songs to fill a headline slot. Urged on by a crowd much smaller than Metallica’s, but just as loyal, they conjure up one of the weekend’s loudest sing-alongs; and the bizarre chess-set stage set-up just adds to the sense of occasion.


11am on a Sunday is a tall order for most festival goers, but VOLBEAT’s mix of heavy riff action and Social Distortion-esque rock n’ roll swagger are well worth an early start. PARKWAY DRIVE whip up an impressively-sized pit for this time of day, with their frenzied metalcore attack, and guitarist Luke Kilpatrick deserves kudos for soldiering on despite having recently broken his leg. The rubber dinghy crowd-surfing competition during ‘Deliver Me’ makes for a quite a spectacle.

Never was a band more appropriately named than MASTODON – the rumble of Troy Sanders’ bass can be heard a mile off. Their monolithic riffs crash and surge around us, and whether it’s the more progressive ‘Crack The Skye’ material or a bludgeoning ‘I Am Ahab’, they’re never less than mesmerising.

MOTORHEAD are low on surprises, but high on thrills. The couple of recent songs played tonight sound just like the old stuff, but that matters little when every song is the very essence of outlaw music – no wonder bikers love them so. Oh, and the fire-breathing girls that join the band onstage for ‘Killed By Death’ are a nice bonus.

We nip into the Bohemia tent just in time to see CANCER BATS damn near blow the roof off. The Canadian quartet are getting leaner, meaner and more enthusiastic with time, and with seemingly no end of riffs or energy in the tank, their forthcoming album should be a corker. The tent is rammed, and rightly so. Back on the Apollo stage, LIMP BIZKIT are pretty entertaining despite being musically shit. Fred Durst’s clunky rapping and clichéd posturing is almost painful to witness, but it has to be said that ‘Rollin’ is something of a guilty pleasure.

And so to SLIPKNOT, on the closing night of their first major tour since the death of bassist Paul Grey. Vocalist Corey Taylor is clearly overwhelmed by the crowd’s support, declaring tonight “a celebration”, and although this is pretty much the same show that we witnessed at the Download Festival in 2009, the likes of ‘The Heretic Anthem’ and a vicious ‘People = Shit’ sound as feral as ever.

Same time next year? Yeah, go on then!



Music News

Former Motorhead guitarist dies

Michael Burston, a former guitarist with Motorhead, has died of ventricular fibrillation.

The guitarist, nicknamed ‘Wurzel‘, joined the seminal band in 1984 and stayed part of the line-up for the next 11 years, appearing on six studio albums. Though he left in 1995, he rejoined them here and there for some live shows and continued to play guitar for a number of other bands.