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”
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
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.