Remembering the Legacy of Rock God Lemmy Kilmister

Photo by Jessica Branstetter

When news came on Monday December 28 that Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister had died at age 70, few could believe it. People all over the world expressed shock that somebody so much larger than life could be gone.

Lemmy had always seem more legend than man. For rock fans all over the world, his name conjures tall tales of booze, drugs, sex, and loud music. This was a man that saw the Beatles at the Cavern and roadied for Jimi Hendrix while the Sixties unfolded in London, and this was before he made his mark as a musician. It’s no wonder people are prone to proclaiming that “Lemmy is god” (after a line from the movie Airheads in which he had a guest role).

What truly makes Lemmy a legend is his contributions to the music world. He first stepped into the spotlight in the early 70s when he joined Hawkwind, pioneering a form of psychedelic music that looked inward to the mind’s eye at the same time that it invoked sci-fi explorations of space. The atmospheric yet rocking music, informed shoegaze’s louder moments, post rock’s dronier side, and stoner rock’s fancier flights of fancy.

Of course, his biggest impact came with his own group Motörhead, a band that proclaimed “everything louder than everyone else.”

Motörhead informed the music of everyone from Metallica to younger outfits forming right now.

A heavy, fast take on rock n’ roll that influenced metal from the moment they plugged in, the band informed the music of everyone from Metallica to younger outfits forming right now. While not adopted by the punk movement right away, Lemmy was involved when the Sex Pistols formed, and later on, Motörhead became essential to the genre, making the crossover of both styles possible. He was a supporter of women in music, a booster of talents and occasional collaborator of the likes of Girlschool, Wendy O Williams and Lita Ford. Lemmy was a fixture in rock docs because he had lived it all and was ready to tell it straight, often punctuated with a joke.

Yes, Lemmy’s figure will remain legendary for his life and work, but what made him truly outstanding is that he never failed to be true. He told it like it was, treated fans and younger musicians as equals, never complicated matters, and above all, dedicated his life to rock n’ roll down to his last months on this plane of existence. When Argentine band A.N.I.M.A.L. approached him to record vocals for their cover of AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell,” he only asked for a bottle of his beloved Jack Daniels in return, since he saw a young band without money trying to make it, and he respected that. He lived for the music; sex, alcohol and drugs were not the point for him. He was constantly reminding everyone of the true spirit of rock music, the spirit of making it despite what anyone else says. One of Lemmy’s mottos comes to mind, a legacy anyone who may or may not be into double bass drum solos and distorted bass riffs, can take to heart: Born to lose, live to win.

Below, some Latino musicians have shared with us their thoughts and feelings about Lemmy and Motörhead.

“For us, Lemmy is what Keith Richards is for everyone else…GOD! To constantly play at maximum volume has been an inspíration for us, and he never stopped. He died with his boots on and a glass of bourbon in his hand. Cheers to him!” – Felipe Arriagada, The Suicide Bitches.

“When you read or hear the word ‘attitude,’ it’s difficult not to associate it with the bassist that played like a rhythm guitarist. I remember when I was young I watched the movie Airheads, and they asked “who would win in a wrestling match between Lemmy and God?” and the answer was that Lemmy is God. I doubt there’s a metalhead from our generation who wasn’t affected or influenced by Lemmy, from his music and persona” –Ralph Joseph, Camden Parlour/Just More Records.

“To me, Lemmy is the indestructible figure that represents rock n’ roll. He got up in the morning with a whiskey in hand and got to bed with a whiskey in his hand, and you thought he would never die. He was one in a million. Rest In Peace, champion!” – AJ Davila.