Monday 28th of December 2015. A 40-year long ride came to an end by the cancer’s ferocious strike. The murder of one-branded bass amp was shut down for good. The end of Lemmy, the end of Motörhead, the end of an era. As a minimum tribute to this gigantic rock figure, we will try to gather some of the most important moments of the biggest badass that has ever walked the face of the earth.
Ian Fraiser “Lemmy” Kilmister (who earned this nick of his from his signature phrase “lend me some money” during the 60s), started playing guitar. As he stated himself, “a terrible guitarist, mediocrity squared. I turned the fuzz on the amp, and tried to move my fingers fast, but that didn’t fool anyone”. After short stints in Manchester outfits The Rainmakers (1963-1966) and Motown Sect (1966), he joined The Rocking Vicars on guitars. Releasing two singles and achieving popularity in northern England, they earned the distinction of being the first band to play behind the Iron Curtain – in Yugoslavia – and were invited, oddly enough, as special guests to a state banquet with President Marshall Tito.
Quitting the band in ’67, Lemmy became a roadie for Jimi Hendrix for about six months. According to his own words, when they finished the first tour, they had several bags of drugs each. During those 6 months with the blueprint of rock guitarists all around, Lemmy developed an interest in acid-rock which he indulged when he joined his next band, Sam Gopal’s Dream, on guitars in ’68. Led by the tabla-playing Gopal, the band released an album with Lemmy, who quit a year later, and found himself in the psychedelic Opal Butterfly throughout 1970.
In 1971 he joined the psychedelic rock band Hawkwind. After four years of being in Hawkwind, the rest of the band wasn’t satisfied with the kind of drugs he did, cause he did the “street stuff”, not “designer drugs”, as he would call them. So, the members of Hawkwind voted and 3 out of 5 decided that Lemmy should leave the band. Once he found out, he had sex with those 3 members’ wifes! Like the man himself said: “they robbed me off my whole life with Hawkwind, so I robbed them off a night with their wifes”.
After being fired from Hawkwind in 1975, Lemmy recruited Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox to form Bastard who soon changed their name to Motorhead. This was a rather interesting decision for Lemmy, as the actual SONG Motorhead was originally a Hawkwind track; it would be the last song that Lemmy Kilmister would ever write for Hawkwind. Unfortunately, the track itself never made it to any of the Hawkwind albums (save for the B-side of a 7 inch single entitled “Kings Of Speed”), however the track was included as a bonus cut on Hawkwind’s “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” reissue in 1992 (and again in 1994, when Griffin Music reissued the album on CD again). The most interesting thing about Hawkwind’s version of “Motorhead” was the use of fiddle, violin and other spacey effects.
Lucas Fox was fired in 1975 reportedly due to his unreliability and lack of aggression in his drumming style. He was replaced with Phil Taylor who was an acquaintance of Lemmy’s. In 1976, it was decided that the band needed another guitarist. They rehearsed with Eddie Clarke and found him a good fit. Immediately Larry Wallis announced his retirement from the band so he could concentrate on the other band he was involved with, Pink Fairies. And thus the recording career of Motörhead begins.
After the release of 2 singles (“Leaving Here” (1975), “Motörhead” (1976)) the band went on to release the infamous debut officially (was released as “On Parole” by United Artists a year prior, but the record label refused to do so).
First thing presented here, besides the fury of their brand of rock n roll, is the signature Snaggletooth, designed by Joe Pentagno (who would later on design album covers for Marduk, Vader etc). One of the first trademarks of Motörhead to go down in rock history. Yeah, along with being the “worst band in the world” according to Melody Maker!
“Motörhead, remember me, I’m Motörhead, ALRIGHT!”
Bronze records is the next label for Motörhead, and after the single “Louie Louie/Tear Ya Down”, here comes this as the full-length.
Double-bass intro by one of the innovators: Phil “Philty Animal” Taylor, on the title track telling you right off the bat that “the only way to feel the noise it’s when it’s good and loud”. A bold statement and it’s just their second album. As with every song on the album, “Stay Clean”, “Damage Case”, “No Class” and so on. A statement of street attitude and non-conformity.
“The only way to feel the noise it’s when it’s good and loud”
Second album under Bronze records, another classic with the unholy triad of the baddest bastards in town. Better production this time, and crushing anthems like “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, “Sweet Revenge”, “Bomber”, “Stone Dead Forever” etc.
It’s the first time when the songs include lyrics about assassination, revenge and even the air raids (Lemmy loved to read war history).
“Cause we shoot to kill, you know we always will, it’s a bomber, it’s a bomber!”
Ace Of Spades (1980)
One of the seminal Motörhead records, setting their most trademark song, the title track as the opening track of the album (influenced by poker, where the Ace of Spades is the most unfortunate card, yeah Motörhead, were always gamblers and drinkers).
Other anthems include “Love Me Like A Reptile”, “Shoot You In The Back” (western movies influenced the album cover as well as the lyrical content. They loved Clint Eastwood movies and that showed), “Jailbait”, “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch”, “Fast And Loose” etc.
“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling is for fools, but that’s the way I like it baby I don’t wanna live forever”
Iron Fist (1982)
Things get better and better with Motörhead laying down another classic, the last one with the classic triad. Do we really need to say that the album is packed with anthems?
The title track was even covered by Sodom on the “Persecution Mania” classic. Eddie Clarke left the band mid-tour in 1982 after he felt that the band had compromised its principles by recording a cover of “Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette. Clarke refused to play on the cover.
“You know me, you can’t resist. The devil’s grip, the iron fist!”
Another Perfect Day (1983)
A replacement for “Fast” Eddie Clarke was quickly found in Brian Robertson (also in Thin Lizzy) who was touring solo in Canada (Motörhead were touring in the USA) and was brought in with a contract for one album and two singles.
That album was “Another Perfect Day” with which came a more melodic approach to the songwriting of Motörhead, without sacrificing how mindblowing the material could be. “Dancing On Your Grave” (gave the name to Sepultura), “Shine” and “One Track Mind” are the proof of that. Final record with Bronze records. Alas, Robertson’s stage attire and refusal to play classic Motörhead songs led to frictions in the band and the band agreed on his departure in 1984.
“I know you think I’m a real rough trade, Now I’m the one dancing on your grave”
After Robertson’s departure, the band advertised for a new guitarist and found two, Phil Campbell and Mick “Würzel” Burston. After the recording of Another Perfect Day, Phil Taylor left Motörhead to join with Robertson in his newly formed band.
Phil Campbell knew Pete Gill, formerly of Saxon, and he was hired to replace Taylor. This new line-up went on to record the writers’ favorite “Orgasmatron”, showing Motörhead at their best! From “Deaf Forever” up to the tremendous title track (covered by both Sepultura and Satyricon), an anti-religion, anti-politics and anti-war anthem.
“My name is called religion, SADISTIC, SACRED, WHORE”
Rock N Roll (1987)
We could have just used the Rock N Roll lyrics to describe this one, as it’s an anthem of the bands’ first decade so far, and an anthem in general.
No signs of decline for Motörhead on this one, laying down classics like the title track, “Just Coz You Got The Power (Doesn’t Mean You Got The Right)” and “Eat The Rich”. In 1987 when Lemmy was filming the movie, Eat the Rich, Pete Gill left the band and Phil Taylor came back into the fold to appear in a cameo in the film.
“I’ve got rock and roll to save me from the cold, and if that’s all there is, it ain’t so bad”
The last album in Motörhead history to feature Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. With some of the newest classics and some really special songs like the first ballad in Motörhead discography “Love Me Forever”, “I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)”, “Going To Brazil”, “The One To Sing The Blues” and of course “Ramones” as Lemmy’s tribute to his beloved NYC punks!
“You know love’s a thief, steal your heart in the night. Slip through your fingers, best hold on tight”
March Or Die (1992)
Phil Taylor is out of the band again in 1992 during the recording of this album. He couldn’t learn the drum tracks to the songs. Tommy Aldridge was brought in as a replacement on the album and Mickey Dee on full time replacement.
The only “not classic” Motörhead record in a strong series of classics. Still some great tunes in here such as “I Ain’t No Nice Guy”, “Jack The Ripper”, “You Better Run”, “Hellraiser” (classic rock bar Motörhead tune). The flaw here is the polished LA glam style production.
“Don’t you tell me that it’s bad for my health. Cause kicking back won’t make it”
The recording debut of Mickey Dee, one of the returns to form for Motörhead! “Burner”, “Death Or Glory”, “Born To Raise Hell” show a more aggressive and renewed side of Motörhead, without losing its initial edge.
“Born to raise hell, be a good soldier and die where you fell. Take it or leave it!”
One of the heaviest offerings by Motörhead, as made evident by the drums on the title track, with Mickey Dee showing his incredible technique once more destroying our eardrums!
Würzel left the band the same year, due to not being able to give the band enough time.
“And I will not fall in love like this! Sacrifice, pay the price”
Overnight Sensation (1996)
From this record to the end things went upward. No other line up change, no bullshit. Just Motörhead playing rock n roll and spawning anthems like “I Don’t Believe A Word” and the title track.
The first album not to feature the infamous Lemmy beard or the Snaggletooth in some form!
“Overnight sensation. All mouth and no soul. The bad boys sold your franchise and stole your Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Snake Bite Love (1998)
The only album that Mickey Dee thought that the title was gay, cause it had the word love in it. On the rest of the stuff, business as usual for Motörhead.
A listen to the intro of “Love For Sale” will send you all the way down to the closest bar for flirty romance!
“Cause it’s only, love for sale, Heart of gold and hard as nails”
We Are Motörhead (2000)
The new millenium begins with the best way possible for Motörhead, showing their teeth with modern and stellar production and lots of creativity.
The title track, “One More Fucking Time” and the epic cover of “God Save The Queen” accompanied by the first video ever with shaved Lemmy!
“We are Motörhead and we’re gonna kick your ass!”
One of the best videos of Motörhead for “Brave New World”, showing us the strong political ideas of Lemmy and Motörhead in general. ”
Voices From The War” and “Serial Killer” are some standout tracks as well.
“God is on your side, but I don’t think that you’re on his, If Jesus showed up now he’d be in jail by next week”
A special guest on this record, is the participation of the great virtuoso Steve Vai, which Lemmy thanked with a short yet kind message carved on a lighter!
Lots of great stuff here again, “Terminal Show” “Life’s A Bitch”, “Killers”, “Smiling Like A Killer” and the bluesy “Whorehouse Blues”, showing off Lemmy’s favorite place, strip clubs of course!
“Freeze your smile, stop your heart, creep and crawl and slither, Come to you and make my mark, Smiling Like A Killer”
Kiss Of Death (2006)
Back to the unusual for Motörhead, with another ballad called “God Was Never On Your Side” and a song named after a girl “Christine”. Other than that the usual songs about war (“Living In The Past”, “Sword Of Glory”, “Kingdom Of The Worm”), rock n roll madness (“Going Down”, “One Night Stand”, “Trigger” and so on).
Also a Grammy for a cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”, an award Lemmy never asked for cause he thought it never was up to par with the original.
“All of history is there for you, All the deeds done in the world are mad If you don’t know what has gone before, You’ll just make the same mistake again & again & again.”
Another great album, packed with amazing songs. “Rock Out”, “Heroes”, “Where The Eagle Screams”, “English Rose”, “The Thousand Names Of God”, “Teach You How To Sing The Blues” are some standouts, with Lemmy’s lyrics smart, mature and to-the-point.
“All you see is illusion, And all you feel is mute confusion. The war is never over”
The Wörld Is Yours (2010)
Speaking of mature lyrics, here we might have the newer version of “Orgasmatron”: “Brotherhood Of Man”. Other standouts are “Get Back In Line” with its hilarious video-clip of beating rich people, “Outlaw”, “Devils In My Head” and “Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye”.
“We are worse than animals, we hunger for the kill. We put our faith in maniacs the triumph of the will, We kill for money, wealth and lust, for this we should be damned. We are disease upon the world, brotherhood of man.”
As years went by, a bluesy side of Lemmy came to life, more and more often. And apart from classic Motörhead material like “Heartbreaker”, “Coup De Grace”, “Silence When You Speak To Me” etc, the beautiful “Lost Woman Blues” came out of the blue, to give a different tone to this album of Lemmy and co.
“I’ve got to shut the door behind me Go out and buy some highway shoes ‘Cause I swear I’m sick and tired Singing these Lost Woman Blues”
Bad Magic (2015)
One of the finest records of Motörhead’s latest career. 100% trademark Motörhead material like “Thunder And Lightning”, “Victory Or Die”, “When The Sky Comes Looking For You”, “Fire Storm Hotel”, “Shoot Out All Of Your Lights” and last but not least the incredible “Till The End”, which came across as insanely prophetic, like a last will and testament of this rock god.
I think we should just give you the whole lyrics, in memory:
“Don’t tell me what to do my friend, you’ll break more hearts than you can mend
I know myself like no one else, nothing to defend
My life is full of good advice and you don’t have to tell me twice
Living here in paradise, no rules that I should bend
In my ears my life has changed, I can turn back the time
I can’t tell you just what made me change
All I know is who I am, I’ll never let you down
The last one you can trust until the end
There ain’t no rules to follow, you can’t predict tomorrow
I know just who my friends are, the rest can turn to stone
Your memories are yours alone, they’re yours until your dust and bones
I know the things I’m looking for, I know just what I want
In my life the times has changed, I’m still the man I was
I don’t want to hear your fairy tales
All I know is who I am, I’ll never let you down
The last one you can trust until the end, until the end
In your life you’ll be amazed at all the love you lose
You can never live that life again
The one thing you will never lose is the singing in your head
That will still be with you until the end”
As a fan of music (in this case the overall field of rock), there are some bands that really mark your heart and never leave. For the writer, Motörhead was one of them who taught him valuable life lessons. I don’t think there’s a single rock fan out there who doesn’t appreciate the legacy that Motörhead left behind with the death of Lemmy Kilmister on Monday 28th of December 2015.
NO REMORSE. NO COMPROMISE. BE YOURSELF. LIVE WITH NO REGRETS.
This is our last goodbye to the embodiment of all things of rock ‘n’ roll. Thank you for everything, those four decades of loud and noise, those moments where you stood up as a man and taught us all how it is to be one. This one’s for you Lemmy!