In Memoriam – Lemmy

by delarue

Lemmy turned 70 on December 15, and the crowd at Duff’s Bar in South Williamsburg – not to mention the rest of the world – was in shock. That someone who’d consumed so much amphetamine had managed to make it that far gives us all hope, right? Less than two weeks later, he was gone. Karla Rose & the Thorns, a somewhat quieter yet more menacing band than Motorhead, played that night at Grand Victory, a few blocks north, at around midnight. Their frontwoman related how the last time she spent a New Year’s Eve doing anything other than working or playing a gig, she’d spent part of it drinking champagne with Lemmy and Rev. Horton Heat at a show in San Diego. And said that it was the most fun she’d ever had ringing in the new year. There must be thousands of other stories like that, probably most of them true.

Who knew that Lemmy had a last name – Kilmister – or was in a band before Motorhead (Hawkwind, an early 70s psychedelic group who sounded absolutely nothing like them)? Or that his given name was Ian?

And as much as Lemmy is remembered, rightfully, for his indulgences and reputation one of the alltime great rock and roll party animals, it’s his bass playing that will keep his memory alive. Relatively few of his four-string peers play like him because his style was so unorthodox, and distinctive – and punishingly difficult. Lemmy made it look easy. He played bass like a rhythm guitarist, punching out those chords like the freight train from hell, giving Motorhead a low register that put to shame just about any other group on the planet. In Motorhead, he was Keith Richards, and just as important to his band as Richards in the Stones. For those who aren’t fans, before you write off Motorhead as just another lunkhead metal act, give a listen to their youtube channel, which will be livestreaming Lemmy’s graveside memorial service on January 9 at 5:30 PM EST.

New York Music Daily never covered a Motorhead show because blogs didn’t exist back in 1999, when the blog’s founder was lucky enough to catch them kicking ass, and eardrum – as Lemmy put it – at a rare Manhattan club gig. But if the New York Music Daily Museum ever expands to a real public space beyond very small, by-invite-only confines, the world will get to see a Motorhead box set high above the other artifacts.

Thanks to loudwire for spreading the word about the memorial.