Parting Shots: Lemmy

Phil Freeman on December 29, 2015

In remembrance of the late Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, here’s a piece from a spring 2011 issue of Relix.

Photo by Robert John

In the movie Airheads, Chaz poses the following question to Chris: “Who would win in wrestling match, Lemmy or God?” The answer, of course, is, “Trick question. Lemmy is God.” The Civil War-sideburned bassist/vocalist for Motörhead (cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as earth’s loudest band) turned 65 on December 24, 2010, but he’s still rocking as hard as ever. The group’s 20th studio album, The Wörld Is Yours, came out January 25. And like all of its predecessors, it’s a fierce, head-down slab of noisy, aggressive rock and roll, mixing sharp political commentary ( “Get Back in Line,” “Brotherhood of Man” ) with witty kiss-offs ( “Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye” ). And now Lemmy’s been immortalized on film, in the documentary Lemmy: 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son of a Bitch coming to DVD this month, following a string of well-received festival screenings and a limited run in theaters.

When was the last time you spoke to Dave Brock or Nik Turner from Hawkwind? [Lemmy played bass for the legendary proto metal jamband from 1972-75.]
I spoke to Dave about two or three weeks ago, I suppose. He was digging his farm out with a shovel and he’d twisted his back. I spoke to Nik about the same time, actually, but you can’t speak to them both about the same things, ‘cause they’re opposed to each other now. They’re fighting all the time.

I recently bought a complete set of the Elric of Melniboné fantasy books by Michael Moorcock. One of them is dedicated to you. Are you still friends with him?
Yeah, I haven’t spoken to him in years, though. He’s in Texas someplace. I did want to get in touch with him actually. Somebody was gonna text me his number but they didn’t do it. I must get ahold of him.

In addition to working with Moorcock in Hawkwind, you were in the 1990 movie Hardware. Are you a big science fiction fan?
Yeah, I always liked a bit of sci-fi. My favorite sci-fi author’s someone you’ve probably never heard of – Jack L. Chalker. Try him, he’s good.

You were filmed for more than two years straight. Do you look over your shoulder now, expecting to see a camera?
No, it got that way on the tour, but as soon as they go, they’re gone, you know? They did a good job, I think.

You had the final say about the movie – did you make any changes?
I only put a couple of people in that they cut out. They cut [guitar virtuoso] Steve Vai, can you believe it?

Do you think the movie does enough to camouflage the actual location of your apartment in Hollywood so that fans don’t turn it into Elvis’ Graceland?
Oh yeah, I don’t think anybody can figure it out. They’d have to be very astute.

Have you heard from anybody who was interviewed in the movie who didn’t like how they were portrayed?
No, not yet. But then, they wouldn’t tell me, would they?

I know you’re a big Beatles fan – you’re seen buying The Beatles In Mono box set in the movie. Have you ever met any of The Beatles?
I met Ringo, but it was only a, “Hi, how are you?” and gone. They wouldn’t know who I was.

When was the last time you met someone famous and were starstruck?
Not many, actually. Let’s see now – you know what, I don’t remember being starstruck for years. ZZ Top – I know them now – but the first time I met them I was pretty starstruck.