Saturday, February 11, 2012

Live Fast, Die Old: "Lemmy"

Lemmy (2010) is documentary film about Ian Kilmister, better known to his adoring fans as Lemmy, the founder of Motörhead.*  The film traces his entire career arc, starting back in the British Midlands in the early 1960s to the present day.

Asked about his earliest musical influences, Lemmy mentions Little Richard, Elvis, and The Beatles and he recalls seeing the latter at The Cavern Club in Liverpool before they had cut a record. He challenges a commonly held notion:
Everybody thinks the Stones were the hard man and the Beatles were the sissies and it's really opposite. The Beatles were from Liverpool and the Stones were from the London suburbs--you know, going to art school and shit and so it wasn't that way at all. And The Beatles--I always thought were the best band in the world you know?
There were three phases of Lemmy's career--first came a pop group called "The Rockin' Vickers" which lasted until about 1967. I'm not sure what he did after that except a lot of drugs. Then came Hawkwind, a pioneering psychedelic band. Lemmy was fired from that band in 1975-- a casualty of (in Lemmy's words) "a type of 70's drug snobbery." His band mates preferred "organic" drugs like pot and mushrooms, while he preferred "synthetics" viz., amphetamines.

Motörhead is slang for "speed freak." I never really got into them (though I did see them in Zurich in the early 90's). I always considered them derivative of other metal bands. I was a bit disturbed by all the fawning accolades by American metal musicians for his having "invented" heavy metal. That's not the way I remembered it.  That is, until Ozzy Osbourne weighed in:
If they'd said to me-uh-who would you say was the original metal band? ....It was a toss between Lemmy and Black Sabbath..but I would say Lemmy and Motörhead.
There is plenty of humor in this film. We see his $900/mo LA apartment (man cave) brimming with "stuff." He collects WW I and WW II memorabilia, including a roomful of Nazi "stuff."  We also glimpse a bit of the personal too. Asked "What's your most cherished possession in here?"  Lemmy answers (after a swig from his Jack and Coke): "My son."  The camera zooms out to include his son, Paul Inder.  "I mean he's the only one I've got.  I mean I have another one but I've never seen him."  Paul tells the whole story--about his mother, his own curiosity about not having a father, and their eventual reunion. We learn too that Lemmy's own dad abandoned the family way back when. This was the only time I could sense resentment in the man.

Man, I just hope somebody is following Dick Dale around with a camera.

Here's a working link to Lemmy's signature song, Ace Of Spades.

BTW, this isn't from the movie but here's Lemmy talking about drugs:

*Blue Öyster Cult claims to have been the first band to use an umlaut in their band name because of the Wagnerian aspect of metal bands. link

1 comment:

  1. Just a couple hours after I posted this, the news of singer Whitney Houston's untimely death broke. Unrelated to causes mentioned in Lemmy's interview, I hope.