I literally have no words. God is dead. There is no way around it. Somehow the unthinkable happened. Lemmy was perhaps our last great rock god, the last one who never sold out, who lived the life, never sobered up, never became a parody of himself. This was the man who managed to keep growing his musical palette 50 years into his career. Lemmy holds perhaps the world record for longest running speed habit and almost certainly has imbibed in more liquor than any other person to walk the earth. Oh, and he was in a little band called Motorhead – a band who paved the way for everyone from extreme metallers like Venom, Death and Mayhem to mainstream rockers like Metallica and Nirvana.
When I first got the news I simply couldn’t conceive it. I didn’t not believe the news. News of Lemmy’s poor health has been widely broadcast throughout the rock community for years now. It was easy to believe that Lemmy is dead. It’s impossible to conceive it though. He stood for so much more than any of us can really understand and fundamentally shaped the way that people understand the concept of ‘cool’. Lemmy can’t be gone – it feels like the fundamental fabric of the world has torn and its core nature is all shaken up. And yet despite the widespread belief that Lemmy would never die, he has passed.
This isn’t an obituary, I don’t really know how to write one and I don’t think anything I wrote would do Lemmy justice. Hell – as is I’m having a hard time typing this article, with tears blotting out my vision and a killer hangover pounding through my skull as I sit in an apartment that smells vaguely of peanut butter. I’m not trying to summarize Lemmy’s life either – he wrote a book for a reason, he’s motherfucking Lemmy, there’s more to the man than could ever be summarized in just a few words. I guess if I had to find a word to describe this particular piece it would be that this is a tribute.
Here’s the thing with Lemmy – his image was what made him larger than life – but the thing is, he lived it day in and day out. He put everything out on the floor, from his incredible drug habit to his more sensitive side, including his lost love Susan Bennett and his passion for history. There was a whole hell of a lot more to the man who once claimed to be ‘indestructible’ than I think that anyone realized, and when you find yourself on a pedestal like he did, it becomes increasingly difficult to reveal a more delicate touch when everybody just wants you to be a rock and roll badass.
See – beneath the hard drinking fast living exterior there was a man who was, quite frankly a genius. He was the model for a whole generation of underground kids and metal freaks and he knew it, and acted the part. He embodied Hunter S Thompsons idea that you should “Be an outlaw, just not like anyone else.’ The irony of course being that the last great outlaw ended up spawning a legion of imitators. Yet, Lemmy seemed strangely okay with the fact that he was a role model, and while he didn’t condone the hero worship around him (And often flatly rejected it) he certainly sought to live to a higher standard, something that I think that hundreds of thousands of fans noticed and took to heart.
Lemmy wasn’t a good guy and he didn’t want to be. He loved his son and he loved his women, but he never tried to deify himself, as easy as it would have been. He had a lifestyle that was wholly his own, living outside the law and playing the same fucking poker video game at the Rainbow. I’m not sure how else to put it – this was a man whose entire existence should have been possible. He was one of those weird outliers that probability likes to spit out at us every once in a while to go ‘What the fuck?’ before going back to the same boring bullshit. He, perhaps more than anyone else to walk the face of the earth, was ‘that guy’.
So I sit here, periodically having to take breaks in order to sob a little bit, this is the worst day ever after all. Here’s the thing though, despite my outwardly emotional reaction and the incredible sadness that haunts me perhaps I should be remembering Lemmy the way he would want to be remembered, with a glass of Jack Daniels and a laugh with your buddies. Lemmy is a man who can be honored in ways as multifaceted as he was. Go and read a fucking book and think of him or go out and pick up some sleazy broad at a bar – either way works. Your perception of Lemmy is highly a personal thing that you should never forget.
We’ve all joked about it before, how if Lemmy is God then maybe we should start a church for him, I’ve been thinking, and though the man would probably hate it, I’m sure that at least some folks are considering the temptation. There is something supremely sad about Motorhead, that it should end like this, with cancer. It’s the sort of sadness that will crush your heart and force you to suffer in the sublime darkness that has washed over the world on this fateful day. And while, the story of super aggressive cancer is certainly believable I’m curious to see more details, what manner of creature could fell such a beast of a man?
I saw Motorhead twice in Lemmy’s time on earth and the first time was the coolest memory of my life. I stood side stage at Hellfest in front of fifty thousand screaming fans. I was surrounded by some of the guys from Judas Priest, Billy Idol, and a handful of beautiful women. That is how I am going to remember Lemmy. I will never forget him peering out on the masses, so many that you couldn’t even see the end of the horde and saying “There sure are a lot of you!”
That’s for damn sure Lemmy.
That’s for damn sure.
In the end, I don’t think we should really be that upset, after all, perhaps the mans most famous declaration was, “Baby, I don’t want to live forever.” And he didn’t. Lemmy always made it clear that no matter what other people claimed about his immortality he was fine with death and didn’t feel to concerned about when he would go. Was cancer the right way for Lemmy to die? Not really. It doesn’t matter though – Lemmy viewed this whole thing as a joke and maybe we should too. And while he would often say “I remember a time before rock and roll” we now have to live in a time after Lemmy. The last great outlaw is gone, it’s up to us to carry on his legacy.