“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”
For a while it did seem that Lemmy Kilmister might never die. A seemingly immortal living legend alongside Keith Richards, Iggy Pop and Ozzy Osbourne, some of us wouldn’t have been surprised if he would still be touring with Motörhead at age 100. True to his promise, he continued touring this year, and released his band’s 20th album in August, which I reviewed. He only just learned of his diagnosis of a very aggressive cancer two days ago, and died at home with family, probably with his boots on, playing his favorite video game from his long-time hangout the Rainbow.
Lots of obits are going to mention how he roadied for Jimi Hendrix. This is true, but he was always first and foremost a musician, and at the time was the guitarist and singer for Sam Gopal. When he joined Hawkwind, he had never even played bass before. Very quickly, he developed a fast, hard driving style that would influence countless musicians in metal, punk and other genres.
The photo, which I took last month, may be in poor taste, but it was in reference to the fact that finishing that bottle of hot sauce may have been a factor in my own voice developing some Lemmy-like qualities. I’m sure Lemmy wouldn’t have minded, and was happy to be immortalized as a rock icon doll.
Along with his signature hats, boots, nail-gargling vocal style and the way he sings up high into the mic, Lemmy was also an incredibly witty, inventive songwriter and lyricist. His music may sound pretty much the same over the years, but every single one of his 20 albums has at least a handful of outstanding gems.
Lemmy’s too big for heaven or hell. I’d like to think he’s lounging in Valhalla with other metal gods like Dio and Bonham, clinking his goblet of whiskey with Hendrix and finishing off that game that was interrupted as he shifted planes.
You know I’m born to lose and gambling’s for fools
But that’s the way I like it, baby
I don’t wanna live forever
And don’t forget the joker
The last song of their last performance on December 11 in Berlin — “Overkill.”