The toll of the dregs of the year 2015 weigh heavy, with good people dropping like flies, dammit.
Today we must say goodbye to a rock-n-roll machine, a man who lived fast and died…not young, perhaps, but certainly too soon. Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, bassist, vocalist, and growling public face of the formative metal band Motörhead, died in L.A. yesterday. It was four days after his 70th birthday, and just two days after he learned he was suffering from an aggressive cancer.
He wasn’t pretty, his voice was far from melodious, but none of that mattered. Lemmy rawked. On stage and off, he showed us how it was done. We knew and he knew what a dangerous example he was setting—few of us could follow in his footsteps (fewer still could survive half as long), but we could still bask in his reflected glory. He lived and died as a heavy-metal sacrifice.
Heavy metal, of course, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. So maybe not all of us appreciated or perhaps even knew Motörhead at quite the level of my hagiography. But still—we all knew Lemmy, didn’t we? How could we not? Just one glance and he etched himself on your memory, to stay. And “Lemmy” was precisely how we all knew him. Despite having one of the most metal surnames imaginable, he was on a first-name basis with the world. Single-name performers abound, and it’s mostly affectation. Lemmy was simply “Lemmy” because that’s all you needed to say. Everyone knew who you were talking about. (And it’s interesting to note that Lemmy himself was never exactly sure where the nickname came from—he was an English kid who grew up on the Welsh isle of Anglesey; he said that the other kids just started calling him that one day. It probably wasn’t complimentary.)
His surviving band-mates broke the news last night, and they asked us to honor Lemmy Kilmister in the only way that makes sense: they said “play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD.” It’s the least we can do, isn’t it?