In a way, we all knew this day would fall upon us, but still there’s nothing that can dull that shock of hearing that Lemmy Kilmister has passed away. One of the most iconic and influential rock and roll musicians to ever stroll this planet is no longer among us, but rather moved on to wherever it is that we all go to after we die. At the age of 70, we can all sit back and wonder how he made it this far, given his habits and previous substance intake, but it was only recently that a more human characteristic of Lemmy came to the public eye with his health issues becoming more and more noticeable. Like many, I was pretty bummed when Motorhead had to cancel some appearances on their last US tour, but after seeing the video of him struggling to perform in Austin, TX, and seeing that this complete bad ass that I had idolized for almost two dozen years had suddenly shown that he was just vulnerable as the rest of us, I put my feelings of a cancelled concert aside and just hoped he’d get better. But still, the news of his passing really stung.
I was 12 years old, living in Inman, Kansas, when I saw the Motorhead video for “No Voices in the Sky” come on, and heard what is still my favorite Motorhead song for the first time. Here I am 22 years later, sitting at a computer (listening to the “1916” album), trying to come up with how that song gives me the same rush today that I got when I was 12. The riffs, the energy, the lyrics, and the chorus all meshed together for a song that hit me just right. In a way, I guess you could say that my discovering of them wasn’t entirely orthodox. The video I saw didn’t air in regular MTV rotation, it aired on an episode of Beavis and Butthead. Even back in a time when MTV did air videos, and did have hard rock/heavy metal videos on at times, Motorhead still weren’t really at the peak interest level of what that channel was about. When I finally saved up enough lawn mowing money to go buy the album, I couldn’t find it at all. I had to go with a ‘Best of – II’ disc that thankfully had the song I was looking for on it. A purist might say it’s lame to get into a band that way instead of a proper studio album, but I like my way. Instead of focusing on one point in time for Motorhead, I got a good sample of 15 songs that spanned their career. Going back to the previously mentioned discovery, Motorhead was a band that a channel like MTV didn’t pay attention to. So if not for Beavis and Butthead, finding Motorhead in the pre-internet days would have been harder. Following that just a few years later, I was 16 and new to Cheyenne, WY and had pretty much zero friends in high school. After wandering in to a local record store, I struck up a conversation with an employee there about various bands, and I can still see the surprised look on his face when I brought up Motorhead and we exchanged pleasantries on how awesome we both thought they were. I’m happy to say that this man is still one of my closest friends to this day.
There’s really nothing I can say here that hasn’t already been said, or even phrased much better. Pretty much all I can say in this regard is that those of us into metal owe the man a debt of gratitude for the number of bands and musicians he’s inspired over the years, or the number of friends we all have through a mutual love of the music he helped to create and refine. I never met the man, and I can’t share any crazy stories about meeting or partying with Lemmy, or even shaking the man’s hand. The best I can do is tell you of the awesome times I’ve had with friends from all over with a Motorhead album going on in the background, or maybe a somewhat amusing story of piling up in a car with friends to venture off to a Motorhead gig. In the end, I think I can still share the sentiments of countless people when I say that the news of his passing cut a bit deep. Drink a Jack and Coke, or take a shot, and spin your favorite Motorhead album.
With mountains of respect and admiration, rest in peace Lemmy!
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