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The Warts’N’All Wit And Wisdom Of Lemmy

On the anniversary of Motörhead’s debut album, we look back at some of late frontman Lemmy’s most unforgettable quotes…

The death of Lemmy Kilmister on December 28, 2015 has left a void that will likely never be filled. The inimitable Motörhead legend defined what it means to be rock’n’roll, having lived a life where everything was louder than everything else.

He was also a reliably funny man, an always-entertaining host, a charmer to the end and a man who oozed natural rock star charisma, without ever putting it on or forgetting who he was or where he came from.

No-one in our world has ever or will ever be like him, and we miss him dearly. These are just a small selection of some of his most outspoken moments: uncompromising, unfiltered and completely unique…

…On The Importance Of Attitude

“I think the music is good, obviously, or I wouldn’t play it. But any music is only as good as the attitude behind it. You should have to play rock’n’roll, it should be impossible not to. I’d like to think we’ve given things like honesty, longevity, determination, and an example to never give up even when it’s tough… and to carry the banner of rock’n’roll as it was meant to be carried.”

…On Sex

“There was a magazine in England who said I screwed 2,000 women, and I didn’t. I said 1,000. When you think about it, it isn’t that unreasonable. I’ve been doing this since I was 16. And I’m now 66. I could’ve done more if I’d tried, I guess.”

…On Clean Living

“I don’t eat vegetables. I eat potatoes and green beans and that’s it. I don’t care if you eat 200 artichokes, you still won’t last through a tour. Mushy peas, I like… Brussels sprouts? Foul. I won’t eat anything with onions in. Me and Ringo Starr have that in common.”

READ THIS: The day I met Lemmy

…On Booze And Drugs

“If you didn’t do anything that wasn’t good for you, it would be a very dull life. What are you gonna do? Everything that is pleasant in life is dangerous.”

…On Regrets

“I don’t do regrets. Regrets are pointless. It’s too late for regrets. You’ve already done it. You’ve lived your life. No point wishing you could change it.”

…On Image

“The only reason we wear black all the time is because it doesn’t show the dirt. People look at you and say, ‘I didn’t realise you were alright. You can talk and everything.’”

…On The ‘Job’

“It is a job, at times. There are bits of it that become more of a job and bits of it that never change and still have joy in them. The job part is usually getting through the red tape that people keep throwing at you, and dealing with idiots, of which there seem to be an inordinate amount! With recording, it depends on how smoothly it’s going. I’ve had it after three takes, and then it becomes a job. I’m a very impatient bastard. That’s my greatest failing.”

“Rock’n’roll isn’t a job. It is life. If you break a leg under a bus and lose it, you don’t just shoot yourself because you lost your leg. You make do with one leg and a plastic one. You survive. The name of the game is survival. I’ll survive through bad PAs, I’ll survive through my bass giving out, I’ll survive through anything. No matter how much or how little you’ve been paid, it’s still a damn sight better life than a plumber in Cleethorpes’. Which was probably the choice…”

“I find rehearsing a job, but the playing isn’t. The playing’s great. I just love to be out there on the road. I probably would have run away and been a pirate or joined a circus in another time. But now you run away and you join a rock’n’roll band, don’t you?”

READ THIS: Lemmy – the final interview

…On Motörhead’s ‘Snaggletooth’ Logo

“I was always interested in pageantry and stuff. England’s got quite a tradition of heraldry and shields and coats of arms and stuff like that. So the Ace Of Spades is really a logical extension of that… The Motörhead thing came from a collaboration between me and a guy named Joe Petagno, an American artist. I told him I wanted a cross between a medieval knight and a robot, looking very decayed because I was feeling decayed at the time, and he came up with three different designs. And he even managed to get my teeth in, did you notice? It’s got the same tooth missing!”

…On The Ace Of Spades Cover Artwork

“That sleeve was Phil’s idea, he thought of cowboys. I wouldn’t have gone for it, but everyone went, ‘Yeah, great idea’ and I was going, ‘That’s terrible – fucking John Wayne?!’ But it worked out really well. It was taken in a quarry near Barnet in London. And the sky’s real. It’s not touched up, it was that blue.”

Ace Of Spades

…On Kerrang!

“Ages ago, we had the ‘No Sleep Till Hammersmith’ tour. The last gig of that tour was at the Odeon, and we had ‘Kerrang’ written across the top. About a year later Kerrang! came out. I don’t know if they did steal it, but it’s damn close…”

…On Broadening Your Horizons

“I’m English to the core, and I’m really proud to be English, but if you’re English you don’t have to be bloody trapped in England to prove it all your life, do you? Why don’t people get out and see the fucking world? Instead of going out in mobs with T-shirts with anti-negro slogans on them and beating people up in every fucking country they go to to prove how fucking English they are, why don’t they go out and find out what other places are about? That’s far more laudable, I think…”

READ THIS: A salute to Lemmy – the ultimate playlist

…On Motörhead

“We look metal, sound punk, and we play rock’n’roll.”

“We just do what everybody fucking expects us to do. Knock off 10 tracks a year and Bob’s yer uncle!”

“We got into the Guiness Book Of Records as being the loudest band around, right? But it was only for a show we did at Ipswich Gaumont and it’s easy to be the loudest band in the world at a venue like that. It’s all bullshit anyway. Like being the fastest gun… So what? Some time a guy’s gonna come up to you and go, ‘Bang!’ and blow your fucking head off. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is being good.”

“If Motörhead moved in next to you, your lawn would die!”

“It’s my basic inner concept that will not let me play any other way. I just like to be loud and shout and run around. Rock’n’roll should be Saturday night every night. We’re the sort of band where you either get down to the front or get out of the hall!”

“I am Motörhead and Motörhead is me.”

READ THIS: The United States of Motörhead

…On First Starting Out

“I couldn’t actually play anything. All I wanted to do was get chicks. Guitar seemed like a good way to do it. I didn’t think I would have to learn how to play it!”

…And A Little Later

“You have to go through the ‘bleeding fingers’ syndrome if you really want to play. And I really wanted to. I didn’t give up. It’s the vocation, the priesthood. If it’s your vocation, you have to do it. There’s no choice. ‘You hear the word, and the word is good,’ and that’s it.”

…On Working A Real Job

“I worked in a factory mending washing machines when I was younger. I fucking hated it. They wanted me to cut my hair, I said no, and that was that.”

…On His Voracious Appetite

“I’m lucky, that’s all. It’s not that rock’n’roll doesn’t kill you – it does kill you! People have heart attacks from too much speed and drown in booze. I’ve got a metabolism that flexes its muscles and goes, ‘Gimme some more!’ But a lot of my friends went off on speed and then on to heroin, and that’s a very bad spiral. You’ve just gotta be careful, find what agrees with you and do that, because everything is offered.”

“I was going to get my blood changed and this doctor in Harley street [London] took a sample and said, ‘If you had whole blood now it would kill you!’ The human body is infinitely adaptable. It can adapt to almost any kind of punishment. It would probably be a severe shock to the system, but why should I stop drinking? It works for me, but it doesn’t work for everybody, so don’t just do it ‘cause I do it, ‘cause you won’t come out of it the same.”

…On Punk Vs. Metal

“We were always more of a punk band than a heavy metal band. We’ve got a lot more in common with The Damned than Judas Priest. But we had long hair, so they had to rack us in with heavy metal. If we had short hair we’d be one of the last of the punk bands. I mean, that’s fucking smart – it all depends on your fucking hairstyle.”

…On War

“War is important. If we hadn’t had two world wars there wouldn’t be anywhere to sit! People breed like fucking rabbits and war is the culling of the herd! Shooting each other is more fun than contraception. Obviously it’s more fun, ‘cause look at the amount of people that are doing it! They’ve learned nothing from the example of war. Not a fucking thing.”

…On Ego And Rock Stardom

“When you’re a kid you wanna be a star, but you get over it. Now I wanna make good music – as good as I can do it. I mean, I am an egomaniac, yeah, but I’m an only child! I blame society. I’m a star, if you like. I love it. It’s wonderful being a star, there’s nothing better. It’s better than sex! Everybody would love it if they had the guts to do it.”

…On The Concept Of Growing Old Gracefully

“What is growing gracefully? What the fuck is that? I don’t think growing old is graceful at all. Growing old is the pits! I don’t feel like 49. I still feel like I did the third year I was in this band. I’ve still got plenty to play and sing and do, so why shouldn’t I do it? Anybody that wants to put a fucking curb on me can piss up a rope! As long as I think I’m doing decent music I’ll keep doing it. When I think I’m just repeating myself I’ll stop.”

On 'Lemmy'

Who wouldn’t want a hero somewhere in their lives? And it might as well be me, ‘cause I don’t take the piss out of them for it, and I don’t laugh at them for it… But I’m not a legend. I never thought of myself as being special in particular. Maybe I make brilliant music, but that’s about it.”

…On Road Life

“This is where I live, this bus, I am no good for anything else. My life is over as far as sitting down to dinner with a few friends goes. You can forget me. I am a road clone, I love sitting in that front seat and watching the sun come up in the morning…”

All quotes sourced from Kerrang! Archives

Posted on August 21st 2019, 1:30pm
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