Sunday, May 08, 2016
Lemmy: Killed by Death
Lemmy's death over the Christmas period was not particularly surprising as he had been in bad health for some time. I had read many accounts over the last few years of embarrassing concerts where he was plainly too sick to perform properly. It struck me as a bit sad because I feared he was trying to perform out of financial necessity rather than true rock and roll abandon, though of course I had no way of knowing this.
And yet, despite his obvious deterioration there was still this sense that he would be around forever, until he wasn't. Then I regretted the various times that Motörhead had played Dublin without my going to see them. I did however have the pleasure of seeing Lemmy performing live once back in the late 1980s when he came onstage for an encore with Hawkwind in the Brixton Academy. He was very tall (or everyone in Hawkwind was very short; from where I was sitting they came to the same thing).
I was never a massive Motörhead fan. I had/have a compilation of some of their big songs (featuring a novelty dance remix of 'Ace of Spades' that apparently featured in an ad for pot noodles). There are plenty of good tunes on it, notably 'Bomber', 'Killed by Death', and especially 'We Are The Road Crew', though the standout track remains 'Ace of Spades', a tune people like me remember for the time Motörhead appeared playing it on The Young Ones, Lemmy characteristically playing with a speaker situated somewhere above his face.
For someone who appears to have never stopped living a rock 'n' roll lifestyle Lemmy made it to a good age. He was no indestructible Keith Richards but he had a reasonably good innings, all things considered.
My favourite Lemmy anecdote is the one about how when Motörhead were touring Bomber they had a lighting rig done up to look like a Lancaster bomber. While playing in Berlin he reputedly looked up at the rig and said to the audience "Been a while since you saw one of them?"
For more death action, check out my recollections of the life and works of Mr David Bowie.
image source (NME)