Thursday, December 31, 2015
3 score years and ten seems the yardstick of allotted life, and has seemed to be, as long as I recall, irrespective of the fact that, at least in the first world, longevity seems to still be getting higher and higher. Add this to another truism, rock stars die young, and, by rights, the man I am writing about should have died years, decades ago. That he didn't remains a conundrum, but it was only today that I learnt of the fact that, at his allotted span, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister has finally kicked his hell out of this mortal coil. Somehow there's something altogether admirable about that, proving his right to be an exception to most peoples rules, right to his very end. Surely only Keith Richards has defied the reaper so long and so contemptuously. Now, I should add here my disclaimer, as, in my real world I practise as a family Dr, spending my days countering against the lifestyle choices assumed by the Motorhead monolith. Very few can copy his alleged intake of alcohol and amphetamine without consequence, and I despair over those who might try, failing and faltering prematurely into soggy oblivion. But occasionally, just occasionally, I come across those who continue to spit in the eye of received wisdoms, and lurch vaingloriously into every deluge, bobbing back up, time and time again, protected by the mysteries of their mutant genes. Of course, maybe 70 is no age for an Englishman to leave his castle, and he might have lived until his 100 had he been more abstemious. But the non-smoking teetotalers, eschewing all drugs and other excursions off the road straight and true, can die of cancers at half his age, and it was one of that scabrous breed that bit him, not liver failure, not emphysema, not HIV. And for that we should be grateful. And maybe sympathetic to his new stomping ground?
I am not going to rewrite any of the obituaries I have read, instead leading a link to this obituary , the best I have read and remarkable in many ways, most of which would be unthinkable even a decade ago. I should explain that the Telegraph, or 'Tory'graph, as it is known to many, has always seemed the pinstriped paper of the establishment, exuding comfortable income stream conservatism to its readership, way grander than the Times could ever pretend. That it could even acknowledge that there was even anyone called a Lemmy, let alone celebrate his life seems bizarre, but a celebration it undoubtedly is, perhaps displaying how far entrenched into this islands establishment is the business of rock and roll. OK, he hadn't been knighted like Sir Mick, Sir Paul and Sir Elton, but, once you reach a certain stage of notoriety and excess, suddenly there becomes an acceptance. Hence the attraction of Lemmy and his ilk to advertising companies, playing upon a national treasure iconography. Whether crisps or lager (chips and beer, that is, colonial friends), he was a reliable hook, and I'm sure the money always came in handy. And this film was an unlikely hit on the arthouse circuit, displaying the even greater incongruity of this gritty archetypal leatherclad warrior, authenticity hued from a heavier metal, ending up in the false and tacky glamour of L.A.
I never saw Motorhead play live and I don't own any album. I can't say I was a fan, even, beyond the obvious and inevitable Ace of Spades, above in it's original version. But I did see his old band, Hawkwind. 18 years old and my first festival, Reading. I've mentioned this before, but it's worthy of the memory, if I had any, blinded by cheap and potent alcoholic cider. Buoyed by their chart hit, penned and sung by the soon to be sacked Lemmy, they headed the friday night bill. The sore ears, sore head and upset tummy of saturday morning are all I recall, and maybe that's enough. Rest noisy, big man!
Remember him this way.