Rock-It Rider’s Lemmy Kilmister Memorial Playlist
I am not sure what I can add to all the memorials that have been written to Lemmy Kilmister in the past week.
I can say this, the first time I saw him on TV with Motorhead I was stunned. They were the opposite of everything happening in the late 1970s when I first became aware of them. They were not smooth. They were not pretty. They were not particularly interested in whether or not you liked them. And oh shit they were loud.
The first time I saw Motorhead in person I made the mistake of winding my way right up front. My ears rang for days and I think I smelled of unwashed biker for a week.
The thing is though, the music Lemmy made with Motorhead fed my soul. I opened this playlist with my favorite, Dr. Rock. I love songs that don’t mess with you and get right down to business. You’re about 10 second in and Lemmy’s already calling you out for being a son of a bitch. Alright then. Got it.
In college I had a ton of arguments with fellow music nerds about whether Motorhead was metal or punk. My response to this question has always been, “Yes. Yes they are.”
I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that all great bands inspire mediocrity in their followers. Every band who has ever declared themselves to be direct descendants of The Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, Sabbath, AC/DC, The Ramones or Motorhead are generally utter and forgettable crap. And that includes all the bands I have played in who have made such claims.
We all get it wrong somehow. By wanting to sound like them and wanting to be like them we forget to be ourselves, and unique recognizable individuality is what all great bands have in common. Lemmy often said he was flattered by the speed metal bands who claimed to have been inspired by his music, but when he listened to them he didn’t hear it. They got the loud and fast part right, but forgot to swing. All rock, no roll.
If you want to know what I mean listen to two tracks on this playlist – Motorhead’s own “Bomber” and the cover of “Motorhead” by The Nomads. Bomber has all the elements of a classic thrash and/or speed metal tune, but it’s also go a hip swivel in it that you’ll never hear anywhere else in that genre. The Nomads took Lemmy’s foundational tune (originally written when he was in Hawkwind) and made a country shuffle out of it.
Lemmy, you will be missed a lot. The world of rock and roll needs outlaws and renegades who aren’t just dressing themselves up in an outlaw costume. There is no denying you meant it. That sort of integrity cannot be faked.
I got rock and roll,
To save me from the cold,
And if that’s all there is,
That ain’t so bad.