Skip to main content

This is Lemmy – he played rock 'n' roll

Rock lost its last great warrior when cancer claimed Lemmy's life.

We thought he was immortal but fate dealt the Ace Of Spades man his final hand. JD & Coke in hand, we celebrate his storied career…

As the big screen bursts into life at a little after 11pm, a huge cheer erupts. It’s Saturday, January 9 and Classic Rock is at Big Red, a bar on London’s Holloway Road, for one of several memorial events taking place in the capital for one of rock music’s most loved characters.

Over the next couple of hours we will laugh, cry and whoop in affirmation as a procession of grieving relatives and bandmates, hard-rock superstars, wrestlers, publicists, roadies and people that our subject had met in bars before becoming lifelong friends – even his cobbler, the man responsible for those signature white boots – takes to the lectern to deliver their emotional tales.

In the background there are immense walls of Marshall stacks, his boots and hat, enough flowers to cover a football pitch. The camera pans in on two black-and-white photographs – the iconic three-man incarnation of his group, Motörhead, and framed above it, the final band line-up that died along with our subject.

Amid a cheering, sometimes weeping, sea of black T-shirts and leather jackets and hairstyles of many denominations, the testimonies from the likes of Dave Grohl, Slash, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Judas Priest’s Rob Halford, Lars Ulrich and Robert Trujillo of Metallica fly by. It’s soon apparent: we will only ever skim the surface of this great and unique man.

The atheist son of a Royal Air Force chaplain, born in Stoke-on-Trent and raised in Wales but most at home in Hollywood, dry and caustic of wit but with an underbelly far softer than he’d let on, prone to performing at ear-splitting volume but also a lover of books and intelligent conversation, Ian Fraser Kilmister – nobody is completely sure why he is known as Lemmy – was a mass of contradictions. But one thing is for sure. We will never see his like again.

From the archive


More from this edition

Get Involved

Trending Features