Eulogy for Lemmy Kilmister (from 2016)

Posted on Jan 29, 2019

I just ran across this in Day One tonight. I wrote it on Jan. 1, 2016 and forgot about it. I don’t know why I didn’t post it on my blog, but I kind of like it!

Lemmy Kilmister died this past Monday. I didn’t expect to be as affected by it as I ended up being. Something about him connected with a lot of people our age – whether they were music nerds or not. The voice like none other, the forging of his own path. One thing that I remember from when I first saw Motörhead on The Young Ones was how his mic was so far up above his head, pointing down. Unconsciously, it registered with me as simultaneously tough/outrageous, but also deferential to rock music. Like he was a servant of it, a soldier.

More than just “Ace of Spades”, which would earn him everlasting props by itself, he was also a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, and had musically-formative years in Hawkwind, singing “Silver Machine”. He got kicked out of Hawkwind after being arrested for drug possession. I’ve read a ton of articles about him this past week, and he turns out to have been amazingly well-read, widely knowledgeable about English history, an addicted fan of P.G. Wodehouse, and a sort of gentleman (holding the door open for ladies to pass first), although he claims to have been with 1000 women over the course of his life, or 2000, depending on who you ask. He drank a bottle of Jack Daniels every day, and had a “daily hangover” to recover from, but he pulled it out until he was 70, and now he’s gone, having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer just a couple of weeks before he died. How long can it be before Neil Young, Jagger/Richards, Rush, etc. follow suit?

One other note about Motörhead: Lemmy never agreed with calling their music “heavy metal”, although they influenced countless metal bands. He preferred to call their music “rock and roll”, or “Motörhead music”.