2015 - The Burning Questions: Is Everything Alright With Lemmy?
Gigs cut short, tours cancelled, hospitalisation – the world is concerned for the ultimate rock warrior. But Lemmy insists he’s going nowhere…
For Motörhead, 2015 was a year of triumph and disaster. Forty years after they formed, the band that everybody wrote off as stillborn back in the summer of 1975 released their 22nd album, the acclaimed Bad Magic. Their relentless march onwards was down to the stubborn tenacity of one man.
Motörhead have been Lemmy’s life’s work: part Boy’s Own tale gone gloriously wrong, part speed-fuelled party, part “fuck you” to the world. Along the way he has created some of the most brilliantly essential music ever written, while his unique mix of wit and orneriness has turned him into a weird kind of celebrity – one that even your granny knows. No wonder that a 2011 documentary of his life was titled 49% Motherfucker, 51% Son Of A Bitch.
But 2015 was also the year in which it seemed like the story was reaching an end. That documentary showed Lemmy saying goodbye to pints of Jack Daniel’s ’n’ Coke, cigarettes and fried food, the change of lifestyle down to the onset of diabetes. In 2013 he admitted that he’d been fitted with a defribrilator after being hospitalised with an irregular heartbeat. Life was telling the poster boy for rock’n’roll excess to slow down – and he didn’t like it. “People insisted: ‘You’ve got to stop smoking, Lem,’” he told Classic Rock. “My response was: ‘Fuck you.’ I hate people telling me what to do, even if they might be right.”
The extent of Lemmy’s problems became apparent at the Wacken Festival in Germany in 2013, when Motörhead were forced to cut short their set after just six songs due to Lemmy’s health issues. A subsequent European tour was cancelled. The band made it back on stage in July 2014 to support Black Sabbath in London’s Hyde Park, where they limped through a 50-minute set that included a drum solo after just five songs. An appearance on the main stage at that year’s Glastonbury festival prompted The Guardian to compare him to Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie, and described him as “a slurring, gargling rock wreck”.