When I heard the news a year ago that the iconic Lemmy had passed away, I was vacationing in New Mexico with some friends of mine. The entertainment for the 1200 mile car ride consisted of radio talk shows courtesy of Bob and Tom, your average “classic rock” radio stations that we tuned into between cities, my friends’ horrible taste in pop music (seriously, who listens to remixed versions of Drake songs?), and a few stints of Thin Lizzy while I was behind the wheel. I practically begged my friends to let me put on a few Motorhead albums, but most of my buds are not interested in listening to heavy metal for 18 hours straight. So, my honor to Lemmy would have to wait until I got back. I remember thinking how significant this day was going to be, as Lemmy just ushered himself into an exclusive club of mine that is, sadly, growing larger and larger by the month.
I never had the privilege of seeing Motorhead live. I’m not entirely sure why. I blame myself mostly, as I never really considered myself a Motorhead “fan” until a few years ago. When I first got into metal only 10 years ago, I was immediately exposed to the extreme stuff first, as my friends were already into the genre. I remember being really huge into tech death bands like Nile and Necrophagist before really branching out into other forms of death and black metal. Back then, I rarely listened to the more traditional styles of metal. These days though, my tastes have switched and I have a hard time caring about death and black metal. Looking back, I regret not being “into” traditional metal as much and, as a result, I never got to see things like Lemmy or Dio live (I heard they did a tour with Judas Priest at one point? God damnit). And it disgusts me. It is not like Lemmy just decided to end Motorhead or that Dio decided to leave music; that would imply that they could come back at some point in my life. No, they are dead. There is no coming back. On Dec 28th, 2015 Lemmy became the next person in my “Will never see live” club.
And that is okay, as I have had the opportunity to see plenty of musicians and bands that are no longer with us, but this article is not about them. It’s about Lemmy. Over the past few years, and especially the last one, I’ve grown to greatly admire the speedfreak. Of course he’s a legend in more ways than one: he’s been known to drink a half-gallon of Jack Daniels daily for years; he allegedly has had sex with over 1000 women in his life (even with that nasty growth on his face); he’s been involved with and played with countless musicians from roadying for Jimi Hendrix to the likes of Dave Brock of Hawkwind and my personal idol Wino; and, of course, he’s a founding member of Motorhead. However, I admire him for his dedication. The man just oozes rock n roll and might be one of the last actual “rockstars” out there. To the day he died, Lemmy drank, did drugs, and most importantly performed despite his declining health. Lemmy is the type of person that would rather go out early doing something that he truly loves than holding on for another dozen or so years desperately trying to stay alive.
It makes me think of my own mortality and the type of life that I want to lead. Now, I know I will never be even remotely as awesome as Lemmy in my future, as I doubt that I will have that much dedication when I get older, but I do hope that I continue to lead a life that values experiences and memories over wealth and comfort. I hope that I can continue to travel thousands of miles each year to concerts and festivals just to hang out with my buds old and new. I hope that I will continue to meet strange people at some greasy dive bar on a Tuesday at 9:30 in some podunk country town in the middle of nowhere who tell me the story of that one time they saw Black Sabbath. I hope, and I will. That is what Lemmy’s life means to me: it’s the perfect embodiment of a life filled with nothing but pleasure and love. Happiness with sadness. A life with no class.
Lemmy. Dec 24th, 1945 – Dec 28th, 2015. The fucker couldn’t even die at the perfect age of 69.