I lost one of my very few icons barely a week ago: (Ian) Lemmy Kilminster.
(For all but the last few weeks, I ‘knew’ Lemmy as Kilminster, not Kilmister. Doesn’t seem right to correct that now.)
We hadn’t spoken in decades, and I’m nothing but just another fan he chatted with half a dozen times (and once complimented my then-fiancee on her amazing cleavage, as she bounced off him at the Marquee, one evening many years ago, before sharing a knowing grin with me).
I first heard Motörhead a few weeks after they released their debut album in 1977. Something about that album hit me so deep. It is still my favourite Motörhead album, and I wear the first four lines of ‘Lost Johnny’ across my upper back. Whenever no music can reach whatever strange mood I have arrived in, the album ‘Motörhead’ will retrieve me.
For me, Lemmy was the living example of ‘no compromise’. There were vanishingly few examples of that back then, and even fewer now. From the simple expedients of wearing black at all times and only getting suited and booted when he pleased, to the cheerful admission of a speed and whiskey fueled life, he always did things his way and you either accepted it or you could go and fuck yourself.
As far as I can see, the phrase “sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” only truly applied to him. Because he did the rock ‘n’ roll life for over 50 years. No-one has survived that better, and been that honest in accepting that your lifestyle will kill you. As well as creating a wealth of music; many of the songs with incisive lyrics. Of course, many of the songs didn’t have incisive lyrics, because Lemmy wrote rock ‘n’ roll. When the music is felt by your body, it doesn’t always need to speak cleverly to your mind.
I often wondered what Lemmy made of twenty-first century life. Such an erudite man watching a world failing to heed the lessons of a history he knew so well.
We’ve just lost one of the only rockers who could remember a world before rock ‘n’ roll. Time passes, and I am beginning to suspect that the losses outweigh the gains.
Goodbye, Mister Kilminster. It has been a privilege to witness your life and share in your music.
Music that I will, without fail, continue to play as loud as I like. 🙂