Lemmy is dead

lemmy

Up until an hour ago, when I got word that Motörhead frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister had died, I’d had plans to spend the evening working. Now, though, all of that has gone out the window, and I’m sitting here with a glass of bourbon, watching old concert footage, reading up on the events that got Lemmy thrown out of Hawkwind in ’75, and contemplating the true meaning of rock ‘n roll… Here, if you’d like to join me, are a few videos of the man who, for many, embodied the hard-drinking “fuck you” sensibility of rock better than any other.

So, here’s my late night toast, in case anyone out there would like to join me in raising a glass… “Here’s to the memory of the unstoppable force of rock ‘n roll that was Lemmy, a man who lived life on his terms and ‘(didn’t) wanna live forever’.”

Here’s the note posted about an hour or so ago by the surviving members of Motörhead.

There is no easy way to say this… our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made it’s way down the street, with his family.

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.

Share stories.

Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.

HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.

Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
1945 -2015
Born to lose, lived to win.

While I’ve always liked Motörhead, I wouldn’t consider myself a super fan. While I appreciated the power of the band, and the incredible effort it must have taken to keep touring for over 40 years, there were certain things about Lemmy that never sat well will me. Love him or hate him, though, you have to admit that he was a truly iconic figure who stayed true to his vision in spite of innumerable forces working against him. He was like the Terminator of rock. He just never stopped. And there’s something incredible about that.

A few years ago, when his health first started to falter, Lemmy was asked if he had any regrets. “I don’t do regrets,” he said in response. “Regrets are pointless. It’s too late for regrets. You’ve already done it, haven’t you? You’ve lived your life. No point wishing you could change it…. I’m pretty happy with the way things have turned out. I like to think I’ve brought a lot of joy to a lot of people all over the world. I’m true to myself and I’m straight with people.”

He never kissed ass. He never tried to come across as something other than what he was. He stayed true to himself to the end. And he made a life for himself in spite of it. And that, I think, is worth honoring.

One last thing… I can’t shake the imagery of his friends having brought his favorite video game up to his apartment from Hollywood’s Rainbow Bar and Grill, where he was a regular. The idea is both so sad and so beautiful.

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53 Comments

  1. Eel
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Lemmy started as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix.

  2. Kat
    Posted December 28, 2015 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    What about Meadowlark Lemon?

  3. Posted December 28, 2015 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Mark – got off a plane to the bad news, and my evening took a similir arc. to ensure good solid sadness, i’m listening to townes along with my likker. i’ll get to the motorhead in the morning with the coffee. the cycle of death and rebirth through liquids. sad.

  4. Dylan Strzynski
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    If you haven’t already heard it, the Marc Maron WTF interview with him from a few months ago is great (it’s preceded by a great interview with Richard Thompson).

  5. anonymous
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    It was just a matter of time after he gave up his liter a day Jack Daniels habit a few years ago. The stuff kept him alive.

  6. Bob
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    I think the video game thing is sorta beautiful. The only thing I hated about Motorhead was how he got anointed by the dopey metal heads and LA creeps like Nikki Sixx and Kat Von D. All those tattooed, rock-life dirtballs. Lemmy wasn’t a rocker, he was a rock and roller. Steeped in early roots and blues and rockabilly. He didn’t talk about Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, he talked about Little Richard and Elvis and the Everly Brothers. Fucking Motley Crue couldn’t play a proper Chuck Berry riff if their mascara depended on it. People forget Motorhead were part of the Stiff Records crowd and hung around with Nick Lowe and Costello and the Damned. They were pub rockers with extra volume. Long live Lemmy.

  7. Mr. X
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Spot on, Bob.

  8. 734
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    By the time his cancer was diagnosed, he only had two days left to live. That, I think, speaks to what a bad ass he was.

  9. Meta
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    From Rolling Stone:

    Figuring that 15 years of regular drinking and drugging had taken a toll on his system, Lemmy decided to have a complete blood transfusion in 1980. He figured it would be like an oil change — out with the old, in with the new. But Lemmy held off after his doctor ran some tests and determined he would react badly to healthy blood. “He told me I didn’t have human blood in my system anymore,” he told Inked. “Apparently, I had become so toxic, mostly from all the speed and alcohol, that fresh blood would have killed me.”

    Read more:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/lemmy-kilmisters-wildest-escapades-15-insane-tales-from-a-legendary-life-20151229#ixzz3vlBXUkc2

  10. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 29, 2015 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Motley Crue?

    I will not be able to mourn properly until: 1) someone offers a critique of Randy Orton’s theme song; and 2) someone puts triple h’s body of work into historical context.

  11. Posted January 1, 2016 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Wait — isn’t that “hard-drinking ‘fuck you’ sensibility” exactly what you’ve repeatedly objected to in irresponsible college students?

  12. Posted January 1, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    To my knowledge, Lemmy never vomited in my yard.

  13. Posted January 1, 2016 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Ah, the old NIMBY…

  14. Eel
    Posted January 1, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    He didn’t say backyard. He could have meant front yard.

  15. Posted January 2, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Yup, I meant front yard, so I’m more of a NIMFY, I guess.

    As for Lemmy, as I noted in the post, I have conflicted feelings and I never really considered myself a huge fan. With that said, I did like some of his songs, and I can appreciate his work ethic. And, from what I understand from people who knew him, he was a decent man. So, yeah, I think there’s probably an appreciable difference between him – the artist who had a vision and aggressively pursued it without compromise, in spite of his vices, and industry trends – and the spoiled college kids to whom you refer.

  16. Posted January 3, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Okay, admiring someone in spite of his vices is different from admiring him because of them. Growing up with an alcoholic father, I have no patience for the romanticization of substance abuse. There’s nothing cool about it.

  17. Jean Henry
    Posted January 3, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Alcohol consumption was only the point to those who weren’t really paying attention.

  18. Posted January 4, 2016 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, Doug… there is nothing romantic about being either an alcoholic or a junkie.

  19. Peter Larson
    Posted January 4, 2016 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Lemmy long expressed his hatred for heroin.

    It is hard to say that Lemmy was ever an alcoholic, despite drinking heavily. I never thought of Lemmy as a fuck up.

  20. Peter Larson
    Posted January 4, 2016 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    “If you overdo booze it’ll kill you,” he warned. “If you overdo heroin… Well, you don’t even need to overdo heroin, just do heroin and it’ll kill you. If you overdo speed or coke it’ll send you nuts. There is a way through it, you can do everything in moderation, you just have to be content with a bit of a buzz and not going to the moon all the time… Most of my generation that I hung around with are gone. And when I say gone, I don’t mean dead particularly, though I’m sure a lot of them wished they were. There’s a couple in mental hospitals and a couple endlessly going into rehab, in and out, in and out…”

    http://noisey.vice.com/blog/how-meeting-lemmy-helped-save-my-life

  21. Peter Larson
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Clearly, Doug Skinner knows nothing at all about Lemmy or Motorhead. He would do well to take the time to know them better. The journey will be worth it.

  22. Posted January 5, 2016 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Peter — Actually, I was reacting only to Mark’s approval of what he called a “hard-drinking ‘fuck you’ sensibility,” which seemed at odds with his complaints about binge drinking college students. I never said a word about either Lemmy or Motorhead. Read before you comment.

  23. Peter Larson
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Interesting.

  24. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks for educating us about Lemmy. The evidence Lemmy gave that he did not “overdo” alcohol and speed is that he did not die early and did not go “nuts”? Further evidence that he was merely a moderate drinker and speed user is his ability to stay out of rehab? I am glad he was not an abuser–the narratives that abusers spin about themselves are often fictictious and almost always toward one single purpose.

    Whether he meant it or not Mark did seem to give approval of what he referred to as a “hard drinking” lifestyle with a “fuck you” attitude. At least that is how I read it initially.

    So cry “you didn’t know Lemmy” if you want. We can all eulogize any way we want, I guess.

  25. Lynne
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know what it means if people debate if a septuagenarian is an alcoholic or just a heavy drinker. Is there a difference? I don’t know but it does seem funny. Anyways, it always cracks me up because so many people’s fear of death leads them to blame the dead, especially if they die young. Guys like this, or Keith Richards, who engage in behaviors which carry a risk of death but then don’t die young sometimes seem to make people angry. It puts others into a weird state of denial about the recently deceased’s habits. I’ve seen some people denying that this guy drank much at all since the notion that someone can engage in a lifetime of heavy drinking and then still live into their 70’s is just too much for them.

  26. Peter Larson
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there is very much a difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic.

    Alcoholics are like vampires. They suck the life out of everyone around them until there is nothing left.

  27. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Wealthy, generous, and charming alcoholics don’t exist?

  28. Steven
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Tell that to John Barrymore.

  29. Lynne
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Peter, that is good to know. I’ve thought that a lot of people in my family are alcoholics but I guess they are just heavy drinkers. Totally awesome people though. I’ve always been grateful that my family members are so nice and fun when they are drunk (which is often). Guess I can get back to enabling with a clear conscience ;)

  30. Jean Henry
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    There is little point in trying to define alcoholism. I’ve known and lived with a bunch of people who abuse alcohol, and there is a difference in degree of compulsion, degree of personality transformation when drunk and degree of collateral damage created. Like any diagnosis there is a spectrum. The treatment is usually the same. How long they need to stay with it to stay sober varies. Lemmy never got sober, didn’t seek treatment and, as far as I can tell, he left no victims in his wake. I don’t see the point of moralizing about anyone’s behavior if they caused no collateral damage. I don’t even see the point in distancing oneself from Lemmy’s behavior and proclivities. They are his. Not anyone else’s. He didn’t encourage anyone else to drink. He counseled against harder drugs If people choose to glamorize his lifestyle rather than listen to what he said, that’s their problem. He didnt make that cultural phenomenon. Moralizing about alcohol use has never stopped anyone from abusing alcohol or becoming addicted to it as far as I know. It may even contribute to the bad-guy glamorizing that fools indulge re drinking. What’s the point?

  31. M
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I was considerably more upset by the fact that, in the documentary linked to above, he opens the door to the female journalist wearing a mask that has “rapist” written across the front.

  32. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 5, 2016 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Accuse me of moralizing if you want. It is more about being realistic. Plus, it is almost like some of you are begging for it: I seriously doubt someone who admitted/ bragged about having sex with 1000 women did not have plenty of collateral damage directly traced back to him. I wasn’t there (maybe Peter has some inside knowledge about how it all went down) but one might wonder where some of his partners fell on the “sober spectrum” when they “decided” to have drinks, drugs and sex and all that realistically entails…Despite his views on heroine and his later sermons on moderation (lucky for him that he happens to be constituted in such a way that moderation feels like a possibility) it appears to me that Lemmy was someone who enjoyed the rock,drug, alcohol, money and sex racket–which is not immediately interesting or surprising at all (when taken out of the context of this blog ) except for reasons Doug pointed out. And addressing weird definitions of “alcoholism” is not moralizing either.

  33. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Hmmm… I don’t think addressing the reality of a spectrum in alcohol addiction is moralizing. Don’t get that at all.
    As for Lemmy’s many sexual partners, it didn’t seem he had to work too hard at seducing them. Speculation that they may have been drugged or drunk beyond consent outside of evidence is just that– speculation. He wore a hat that said rapist. He has not been accused of rape. He wore nazi memorabilia too. But he wasn’t a bigot. Marc Maron in his recent excellent interview with Lemmy broached the subject. The conversation was fascinating. The biggest dealer in the stuff is Jewish. Maron, who is Jewish, didn’t take offense but found it interesting. I think Lemmy was taking aim at just the kind of cheap moralizing evident here. ‘I like the guy, but don’t approve.’ Lemmy wouldn’t have given two shits about that. He was who he was without apology. There’s a crucial difference between morals and ethics. Lemmy occupied that territory.

  34. Peter Larson
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Liberal americans love to moralize.

  35. Peter Larson
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Oh wait, that’s my white privilege talking.

  36. Lynne
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I have news for you, Peter. *Everyone* likes to moralize.

  37. Peter Larson
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I am known to do it, but I don’t like to. So not everyone does.

    But I have white privilege.

  38. Bob
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    You guys sure know how to fuck up a nice post.

  39. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Peter’s narrow definition of “alcoholic” is at odds with reality.

    Jean’s proposal that there was no collateral damage from a millionaire heavy drinking and speed taking host of parties that resulted in him having sex with 1000 different women is at odds with common sense.

    Bob’s assertion that Motley Crüe sucks is interesting in its irrelevance.

    Mark’s appreciation for people who live lifestyle’s that are very different from his own is interesting.

    I don’t care care what Lemmy liked to do so I am not sure anything I say about/ around his life or death can be classified as moralizing. I think it is interesting how people respond to death. A common complaint amongst those who seem to appreciate him the most is “you didn’t know Lemmy” followed by ridiculous assertions.

    The hilarious thing is I like Motörhead and Lemmy. Never said I didn’t. He was a smart person with his own set of challenges. The loss is felt. It is just fucking odd and interesting the way people mourn, make stuff up and pick fights after someone dies.

  40. Lynne
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    LOL. I am sorry. I just find it hilarious that you are moralizing about other people moralizing.

  41. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I will have to think about that for a minute but I suspect I will find it funny too.

  42. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Yep. That is hilarious.

  43. Peter Larson
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    It is my white privilege talking. I can’t help it.

  44. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Is it inconceivable that 1000 women (Lemmy’s number is smaller btw) wanted to have sex without commitment? Sometimes men indulge serious patronizing aka patriarchal bs in guise of support for women.

  45. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Also everyone on earth is very interested in lifestyles different from their own.

  46. Lynne
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that it would be very unlikely for anyone, male or female, to sleep with 1000 people and not have someone’s feelings get hurt. But so what?

  47. FFT
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    I find it hard to believe that in real life (in her neighborhood) Jean would defend a person walking around in a “rapist” mask. That’s what I find funniest about the conversation.

  48. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Hat not mask. Mask is different. (Your projection noted) but I support freedom of speech. The difference between actual an actual rapist and a guy wearing a hat that says rapist is very clear to me. Having met the former in the guise of an extremely popular, wealthy, high school jock, I can assure you most rapists do not advertise.

  49. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    And, yeah, it’s fucking hysterical.

  50. Jean Henry
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Ha. I projects hat not mask. My bad. Guess I didn’t want to imagine that. But many women do. Rape fantasies are super common–almost ubiquitous– and again clearly distinguishable from the real thing. Play gear. I doubt Lemmy walked around town that way.

  51. Frogger
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Is it a mask or a hat? I’m confused.

  52. Frosted Flakes
    Posted January 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I generally like your posts very much, Jean. You are usually very insightful. I don’t really see the point in going out of your way to claim Lemmy did not cause collateral damage. It is stranger than going out of one’s way to say he did not overdo drugs and alcohol….Engrave “never caused collateral damage” next to Peter’s “not an alcoholic”in his gravestone if you want. His dead body would probably piss itself in laughter…We are all causing collateral damage….Lemmy was dealt a very unique hand. He did the best he could with it. He did better than most, I suspect, if they were in shoes… He reflected on his lifestyle and was very intelligent…

    His supporter’s odd assertions are interesting, in my opinion. That is all. It really seems like some of you are begging for the sort of reaction you have received. That is interesting too but none of it is too important. That is all.

  53. Posted January 6, 2016 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    He may have had a “rapist” hat too, but, in the documentary I linked to, it’s a mask.

    Here it is.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 2.04.54 PM

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