I can tell you the exact moment when my flirtation with Motörhead became a full time love of Lemmy. It was Christmas Day 1989 and my Dad had died less than a week ago. I felt as lost as I had ever felt. I was in my Nan and Gramps’ front room with an Iron Fist LP, a No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith LP and a blue vinyl Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers 12”. The local record shops had given up their bounty to the unlikely shoppers of my Mum and Nan, both beige coated (Littlewoods finest) and brown hair bubble permed, clutching a list I’d written of bands I wanted records from for Christmas. I’d done the logos properly of course. Umlauts all present and correct. In later years my Nan would approach a record store counter and ask “Have you got the Hard-ons?” This is an image that still amuses me now.
In the other room everyone else was watching the Top of the Pops Christmas Special but on that day I could take neither the music nor the company. Being in company meant pretending everything was okay and we were having a nice time. Everything wasn’t and we weren’t.
In the front room my Gramp had a music centre with two record decks. Aged five at the end of the seventies I’d stood on his feet and he’d danced me around the room to Abba. Aged fifteen at the end of the eighties I sat surrounded by the swirly wallpaper which was comfortingly unchanged since my earlier childhood and I wondered which of my new records to listen to first. I picked the blue vinyl. I held it up to the window, in front of the Christmas tree that stood on the cabinet of never used glasses saved up for with Green Shield stamps, being saved for a best that would never come. How do we know which days will be our best until we’ve done them all? The tree lights shone through the blue vinyl like a stained glass window with no pesky religious overtones. Any faith I might have had perished while I was watching untimely cancer deaths. It wasn’t just my Dad, I saw a twenty-one-year old with an eagle tattoo soar away from his crumpled careworn parents in the autumn of 1989.
“Beer drinkers and hell-raisers, little girl, baby don’t you want to come with me…”
Before the needle even made it to the centre of the record I knew I had Lemmy now.
***Calendar pages flutter past twenty five years***
The last time I saw Lemmy was at Wacken in 2014. I was part of a huge appreciative crowd who watched Motörhead as the sun set. Other favourite Lemmories are the time my husband and I were at the Astoria in London, seeing Megadeth, and Lemmy walked right past us. I actually squeaked with excitement. We also saw Lemmy be a special guest to Hawkwind at Wembley. He made their shambolic sound on that night coalesce into something focused and wonderful.
I think we asked too much of Lemmy, in the same way we sometimes ask too much of our parents. No one in their fifties and sixties can party like they did in their twenties. I didn’t go on facebook at all on the day I found out Lemmy had died, because I wanted to write my Lemmy thoughts before reading everyone else’s. Almost a year later I’m sharing them.
Lemmy left a huge legacy behind him. There are a legion of fans who keep his music alive. There is the wonderful tribute band Motörheadache UK, https://www.facebook.com/lemmymotorheadache
There is Jason Healey’s blog about his listening to Motörhead for the whole of 2016, https://366daysofmotorhead.wordpress.com/
There have already been many events that celebrate Lemmy’s memory. On 9th June 2016 I was in Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford, to hear Mick Wall talk about his wonderful Lemmy book. I turned up alone and I sat in an empty row of chairs but then spotted a friend and went and sat in front of him, in the empty but for me front row. He showed me his new Motörhead tattoo. It looked great, a wrist based Snaggletooth you always have with you. He introduced me to the friends he was with. It was a small friendly crowd. Other friends arrived late and a little drunk and joined me in the front row, it’s what Lemmy would have wanted. One of them poured me a JD and I smelt this spirit of Lemmy while Joel McIver asked Mick about the Lemmy he knew. Mick made me pause for thought when he spoke about Lemmy’s relationship with his son. I thought of my own Dad, who had worked in this very Blackwell’s bookshop and who gave me my love of reading and writing. I was saved from any gloominess by Mick saying “Women loved Lemmy…He’d ogle your tits like a gentleman”. I turned to the guy beside me and whisper-giggled “Yeah, us women love that”.
We may have lost Lemmy to the great VIP area in the sky but we still have his music and his philosophy of life.
Lemmy Kilmister 24.12.1945 – 28.12.2015