“I don’t do regrets. Regrets are pointless. It’s too late for regrets. You’ve already done it, haven’t you? You’ve lived your life. No point wishing you could change it.”
From his breakthrough with Hawkwind in the late 60s, Lemmy was a man who lived with little to no compromise, reinvented how the bass could be played and gave us music that would endure the ages. While his formative years with Hawkwind would shape him as a musician, it was with his own band Motörhead he would change the face of rock music. Black Sabbath had laid the foundations of metal with heavy monolithic riffs, but Lemmy bought speed and no-nonsense aggression, without which we would never have had any of the 80s thrash or hardcore metal that followed. In Lemmy’s vision, of course, it was all one thing: rock ‘n’ roll. He just played it faster and louder than his heroes and predecessors and set a new benchmark in the process.
The word iconic is overused in the twenty-first century, but almost everything about Lemmy became iconic, from the way he stood on stage, head tilted back surrounded by smoke, the gravelly way he sang, his fashion sense, the facial hair and that aforementioned bass sound: a ferocious, overdriven, distorted, bottom-end rattle from his trusty Rickenbastard.
Lemmy became – without irony, and almost without self-parody – the embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll. His never say die attitude sometimes even made us believe that he was indestructible. But even those who’ve weathered the most ferocious storms eventually succumb and, in his last years, Lemmy battled with various health issues, forcing Motörhead to postpone a double headlining tour with long time friends Saxon in 2013 and cancel shows in 2014. The end of that year saw Lemmy and his cohorts back on the road with The Damned and playing as fiercely as ever.
With the Motörhead machine back in power, the band released the critically acclaimed album ‘Bad Magic’ in the summer of 2015. With twenty two studio albums and almost countless live releases behind them, the band’s popularity remained strong. On December 26th, Lemmy learned of having “an aggressive form of cancer” – and two days later, he bid the world goodbye.
Babe Ruth, the legendary baseball player once claimed that heroes get remembered but legends never die. In his lifetime, Ian Fraser Kilmister became a hero to millions and constantly wrote his own legend. We’ll never see his like again.
Below, Real Gone remembers Lemmy with some Motörclassics and deep cuts.