When you think of the different rock legends that have stepped on stage, Lemmy Kilmister is as deserving as any other to be recognized. The founder of Motörhead, Lemmy had been rocking hard since the late 60s with other bands such as The Rockin Vickers and Hawkwind. It was with a heavy heart that the world found out in late December of 2015 that Lemmy had passed away with a short but aggressive battle with cancer.
While his career had ups and downs, including personal issues with addiction, Lemmy never shied away from the lifestyle that rock and roll leads, stating:
“This is how my life was always meant to take place: in the back of a tour bus somewhere, a girl I’ve never met before in my lap, and who will be gone by morning. It’s how I live. It suits me.”
And while that might not be a life that everyone is envious of, it is certainly a quote that helps express just who Lemmy was. At the age of 65, Lemmy had claimed to have slept with more then 1,000 different women. Given the nature of a tour bus and Lemmy’s apparent willingness to sleep with women and then never call them, that’s not a hard claim to believe.
The rock and roll lifestyle is bound to catch up with anyone eventually, and while Lemmy passing away at the age of 70 is sad, many were shocked it didn’t happen much sooner in his life. Perhaps that too is a testament to just how hard and loud Lemmy lived his life. Never afraid to slam back some whiskey and his fair share of drugs, Lemmy was just as energetic off the stage as he was performing.
There is not another artist out there that will be able to fill the gap that has been left in the music industry with the passing of Lemmy Kilmister.
While he will be missed, his legacy will surely live just as he would have liked it, loudly and forever. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the rock legend.
10. He Wanted To Legalize Heroin
Lemmy was no stranger to drugs. His reputation as a user of speed, as well as an abuser of alcohol, helped to solidify Lemmy’s role as a bonafide rockstar. One drug that Lemmy claimed to never have touched was heroin, which he claimed to be the most destructive drug in the world. In an effort to help make the world safer from dealers and users who are not getting the help they need, Lemmy believed that the main solution to the heroin problem was to legalize it. There are countless concerns when it comes to heroin, but as Lemmy stated “junkies who don’t die become Typhoid Marys spreading the infection.…If it were legal and on a prescription, then at least two-thirds of the dealers would disappear” and as a result would make it easier to find out those who may be in need of help.
9. He Collected Nazi Memorabilia
When glossing over the countless great images of Lemmy over the years, you may not have to look very hard before coming across some form of Nazi memorabilia. Lemmy assured his fans that this does not mean that he sympathizes or agrees with the Nazi line of thought, just that he thinks Nazi stuff looks really cool. In a quote that paraphrasing would butcher, Lemmy stated “it’s not my fault the bad guys had the best shit…I’ve always liked a good uniform and throughout history it’s always been the bad guys who dress the best…I’d collect ours as well, but what does the British Army have? Khaki. Makes them look like a fuckin swamp frog…”…hard to argue with you there, Lemmy. After all, Nazi uniforms were designed by Hugo Boss.
8. He Was A Roadie For Jimi Hendrix
Lemmy was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix in the 60s. How else are you supposed to learn how to rock and roll with the best of them? The opportunity allowed Lemmy to watch Hendrix perform roughly twice a day, for 3 months before moving onto other opportunities. When asked by RollingStone Magazine on what it was like to watch someone like Jimi perform, Lemmy stated that “When he performed, he was magic. You would watch him and space and time would stop.” It is a true honor that the world felt something very similar when they got to watch someone of Lemmy’s talent shred on stage.
7. Wrote Several Songs With Ozzy Osbourne
One of the cooler things about watching different musicians perform, is seeing the impact that they had on other artists. Lemmy’s relationship with Ozzy was a close one, and the partnership led to Lemmy contributing on several songs for Osbourne throughout his career. Lemmy stated that the money that he earned off of Osbourne’s No More Tears album (and “Mama I’m Coming Home” in particular) was more then he ever earned from Motörhead. Lemmy’s friendship and partnership with other rock legends is a fantastic example of an artist whose legacy extended beyond just his own band.
6. Lemmy Has His Own Figurine
Of course the man that always seemed to be larger than life also had an action figure. How could he not? The amount of liquor and illegal substances that Lemmy put into his body over the years is no less impressive than anything Superman ever did. The figure goes for around $100 on Amazon, but that is a small price to pay to help further personify the legend that was Lemmy. The figurine stands 7 inches tall, and features Lemmy holding a bass guitar while looking at the microphone which is set in the traditional ‘high’ style that helped define Lemmy’s image.
5. That’s Not His Real Name
Despite me using the name Lemmy approximately 1,000 times in the last two days, that was not actually his name. Lemmy was born Ian Fraser Kilmister in 1945. Though Ian is hardly the name that you want to help cement your legendary image. While he did use the name Ian while rocking out with the Rockin Vickers’ Lemmy claimed that he was not too sure where the nickname came from. Reports say that it may refer to how he would say “Lemmy a quid until Friday,” to help fuel a growing addition to slot machines.
4. He Was In A Band That Dressed As Priests
While it’s hard to imagine the image now, when Lemmy first made his mark in the music scene it was in a band called The Rockin Vickers. Donning priest outfits on stage, the band still had the ability to rock. While not a huge success (shocking) they did still manage to release three singles and helped further introduce Lemmy to the possibility of rocking out on stage for a living. It is interesting to note that at the time, Lemmy was going by the name Ian Willis. While Lemmy ended up leaving the band to join Hawkwind, there is no telling if the legacy of Lemmy ever would have come to fruition if not for taking a leap of faith, as unlikely as it seemed at the time.
3. The Name Of Motörhead Comes From A Previous Song
One of the most interesting pieces of trivia, is finding out how bands decided to come up with their name. Motörhead was a term that referred to people that use a lot of speed, which Lemmy most definitely did. It is also the name of the last song that Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind, the band that Lemmy was in before being kicked out after being caught at the Canadian border with drugs. While he originally wanted to go with the name Bastard, he realized that Motörhead might be a bit more appealing to the mainstream. “Motorhead” (the song) came out in 1975 off the album Warrior On The Edge Of Time. When Motörhead (the band) came out with their first album in 1977, Lemmy and his new band re-recorded the song and it became one of the first songs off of their debut album.
2. Motörhead Performed Many Of Triple H’s Theme Song
Even if you have never heard or actively hunted out a Motörhead song, Lemmy’s involvement in the WWE speaks to only further enhance his legacy. Motörhead was the band behind multiple WWE Entrance songs, most prominently for Triple H. The songs included “The Game,” “Line In The Sand” and “King Of Kings.” One of the coolest moments in wrestling history was Lemmy playing the music live as Triple H went to the ring during WrestleMania 17, and WrestleMania 22. Upon learning of his passing, Triple H made the statement “One Life, lived your way, from the beginning, till the end. See you down the road my friend…Thank you for the gift of your sound.”
1. He Switched From Jack and Coke, To Orange Juice And Vodka
Even the biggest legends need to slow down in some ways. When Lemmy began getting up there in age, he came across several health issues that would perhaps stop a normal man from partying hard. Yet clearly Lemmy was no ordinary man. When the Jack Daniels and Coca-Cola that Lemmy had consumed for most of his life started causing complications, the rockstar simply switched to vodka and orange juice. When talking to The Guardian about the switch, Lemmy stated “I like orange juice better…so Coca-Cola can f*** off,” I suppose some things can change over time! Thankfully Lemmy’s talent was always evident.