- 28 Dec 16
To coincide with the first anniversary of his death, we re-wind Stuart Clark's warts 'n' all chat with the Motörhead legend.
The Head Master
He has warts on his face, chemical paste in his blood, viagra in his dick and a heart full of rock 'n' roll. "There are occasions when I do preach temperance," Lemmy tells a startled STUART CLARK
Five minutes into my interview with Lemmy and that adage about not meeting your heroes has never rung truer.
“Let me get this straight,” the head Motörhead says menacingly. “You’re calling ‘Silver Machine’ a classic ?”
Not in the 98FM ‘That’s Hawkwind, this is The Eagles’ sense of the word, I gulp, but yeah, it’s one of my favourite singles.
“Bollocks. It sounds like a fart in a wind tunnel. The song’s okay, but the production… Jesus! You journalists are fucking deaf.”
It had all started so promisingly with Lemmy inviting me to get stuck into the rider – a sumptuous spread which, given that this is Motörhead, includes copious amounts of Jack Daniel’s and Special Brew.
Can in paw, I ask him the question that all red-blooded Motörbonce fans want the answer to: “Did you ever shag The Nolans?”
“What, all of them?”
Individually or collectively, I don’t mind.
“Our paths crossed a few times in the ‘80s but, try as I might, I couldn’t get into their knickers. Who was the young blonde one? Bernadette. She was a good laugh. I’d like to meet ‘em again now, ‘cause if they’re like other Catholic girls I know, they’ll be making up for lost time.”
While this discussion of matters Nolan is going on, one can’t help but notice the magnificence of Lemmy’s warts and a lunchbox that’d make even Linford Christie feel inadequate. Less impressive is the oily stain emanating from his crotch but, hey, there’s more to rock ‘n’ roll than dry cleaning.
One wonders if, at 57, Lemmy requires assistance to get his jollies.
“Have I taken Viagra?”
Er, that sort of thing.
“Everybody needs help from time to time. Even when you’re 18, there are occasions when – especially where drink’s involved – the old lad won’t stand to attention. I only take a half now, but first time round I did a whole pill and struck this chick under the chin as I ran towards her! Your dick ending up red raw besides, it’s an interesting drug.”
What about other lotions and potions?
“I’ve tried most things, except for heroin which has always been on my ‘not with a bargepole’ list,” he divulges. “It’s certainly the only one that I’ve seen kill people. Everything else is down to personal choice and whether or not you can handle it.
“I don’t do much these days ‘cept drink. Meet me after the show and I’ll let you have a glass of my favourite rosé.”
Which, wine fans, turns out to be that old Portuguese reliable, Mateus. He may have turned the superhuman ingestion of amphetamines into an art form, but there was a time when Ian Kilmister was more psychedelically inclined.
“Acid is great stuff, you just can’t get it no more,” he says mournfully. “If you get acid now it’s made with speed and has strychnine in it. The last time I did it, it was straight to the moon! That’s when I was working for Hendrix and he came over with The Monkees for his first American tour. Owlsley Stanley III invented acid along with Timothy Leary. He was a really goofy guy, y’know? ‘Hello, my name is Owlsley Stanley III and I was wondering if you’d like to try some LSD#29?’ Hendrix said ‘Sure’ and brought back, like a hundred thousand tabs in a bag with little owls stamped on them. They weren’t even illegal yet.
“One night this guy, who was the top roadie, said, ‘Would you like to try some acid?’ And I thought, ‘Why not? I’m a fucking expert at marijuana and this can’t be much different.’ It ended up like one of those Cheech & Chong films. I’m trying to drive this truck and say to the others, ‘Are there supposed to be four roads ahead of us?’ So, I took another one. For 18 hours I couldn’t see. Just colours and patterns and all of that stuff. You don’t even get an hour of that now and you’re conscious of your surroundings all the time, so it’s not much fun.”
Is it true that doctors told Lemmy to under no circumstances stop taking speed, because the shock of withdrawal would kill him?
“No, the proper story is that I went to a Harley Street quack to see if I could have my blood changed a la Keith Richard, and he said ‘no’ ‘cause what I’ve got in my veins now is chemical paste. Put clean blood in and, boom, instant heart attack. The reverse is true in that if I gave a transfusion to someone else, they’d die.”
Another favourite Lemmy story of mine is the time he was so out of it at a Hawkwind gig in America that two roadies had to go on stage and prop him up.
“Not true, although I do recall having to ask, ‘Which way is the audience, man?’ The response being, ‘Keep going in that direction for 20 feet and you can’t miss ‘em!’”
Not wanting people to think that his past is in any way scurrilous, Lemmy is currently working on a, ahem, warts ‘n’ all biography entitled White Line Fever. There must be bits – the ‘60s and ‘70s, for instance – that are a tad hazy?
“No, I can remember the important stuff like who ripped me off,” he laughs threateningly. “I’ve always despised business people – especially the failed rock star ones. They want to be on stage like me, but they can’t, so fuck ‘em!”
A time that Lemmy remembers with particular fondness is the ‘76 punk uprising.
“I don’t like sticking labels on things, but music and attitude-wise, we were always more of a punk band than a metal one. The mutual respect only went so far, though. We did a gig at the Roundhouse with The Damned and The Adverts, where our fans threw bottles at them, and their mob spat at us. Shortly after that, some bastard gobbed right down Joe Strummer’s throat and he got Hepatitis C.”
This is a good time to switch into This Is Your Life mode and repeat something that Captain Sensible said to me recently. To wit: “I knew I’d reached rock bottom when Lemmy pulled me aside one night at a lig and said, ‘Captain, you’re drinking too much’. When he tells you you’re overdoing it, it’s time to ring up AA.”
“Yeah, there are occasions when even I preach temperance,” the Lemster chuckles. “I saw The Damned recently when they played the House of Blues in LA, and they all looked healthy enough.”
One of the highlights of Motörhead’s recent Vicar St. show was them beating the crap out of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’. Has there been any word from John Lydon re; what he thought of it?
“I had a conversation with him on the phone, the gist of which was: ‘Ours was better, but yours is okay for a bunch of old cunts’. Which is a pretty accurate assessment. I’m sure he had a go at us on his internet radio show, but I don’t have a computer to listen in on.”
Now that he’s domiciled in Los Angeles, I imagine Lemmy turns out every Sunday for Rod Stewart’s Exiles football team.
“God no, I hate football. Imagine if you spent all that energy fucking instead?”
How does LA life compare to Blighty?
“More chicks, more sunshine and everything’s half price. There’s no way I could afford the place I’ve got in West Hollywood if I was living in London. The healthy lifestyle thing’s a bit tedious, but easily avoidable if you hang around with the lowlife scum that I do.”
Despite a couple of high profile Ozzfest outings, Motörhead have yet to rise above cult status in the States. Why?
“We’re not pretty enough and the music’s too brutal for them. Everything there is fad-driven. Limp fucking Bizkit and Tool and all that. It’s just fucking hopeless. If that’s the future of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s suicide for me.”
What about Marilyn Manson?
“All mouth and no tights. The show’s great but that last record of his was hopeless. Fair play to him for getting up people’s noses, but he needs to come up with a few decent tunes.”
Writing his memoirs isn’t the only extracurricular activity Lemmy’s been engaging in of late. The keen connoisseur of young flesh that he is, he was delighted to accept a cameo role in John Wayne Bobbitt’s XXX biopic.
“As Loreena Bobbitt drives away, she throws the dick out the window,” he says, setting the scene. “I’m sitting in this park, for whatever reason, it goes by me and I go, ‘What’s that? A fucking dick? At least it ain’t mine!’ And I walk out of the picture.”
Although denied a cinematic release here, I’m told that a word in the right porn shop ear and, hey presto, a copy of John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut will emerge from under the counter.
At this point in proceedings, you’ll probably have worked out that Lemmy’s bark is considerably worse than his bite.
“Respect me and I’ll respect you. Take the piss and Jesus Christ you’ll regret it. That’s why I nearly twatted Mark Lamarr on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The cunt starts having a go at me the moment I walk on set, and then gets all huffy when I say ‘enough’s enough’. I’ve been doing what I do long enough not to have to take that shit.”
Much has been made recently of Lemmy’s penchant for Nazi artefacts. While not a subject he wants to go into today – “I’m fucking bored with it” – he recently told an American hack that, “Everybody’s got something they collect, or get out when everybody else has gone home to look at. Some people build model airplanes. Some people collect postcards. I like the military.”
Pressed further, he revealed that his favourite piece of memorabilia is, “A small square flag that was Hitler’s personal standard. And that came from the Brown House in Munich at the end of the war. So it was virgin. The bad guys always have the best stuff. You ever notice that?”
Call me a jackbooted old fascist if you like, but I don’t think that’s enough to convict him of being a Nazi sympathiser. As he looks back at five decades on the road – his first band, The Rocking Vicars, made their live debut in 1963 – what are the nights that make Lemmy feel all gooey inside?
“When we did Argentina with The Ramones and got 68,000 people. I met them and The Runaways when they first came over from the States in 1976. Joan Jett wore my bullet belt on stage and Joey, well, he was a lovely man. We played to 68,000 people indoors recently at the Houston Astrodome as part of Wrestlemania. That was a proud moment. As was selling-out the Hammersmith Odeon for the first time.”
We know he considers ‘Silver Machine’ to be a big pile of doggie-do, but which songs of his does he rate?
“Well, ‘Ace Of Spades’, obviously. Because it’s clothed my back for the last 20 years. And ‘Bomber’ and ‘Love Me Forever’. ‘1916’, ‘Don’t Lie To Me’. Three more? ‘Overnight Sensation’, definitely ‘Sacrifice’, ‘Over Your Shoulder’, and probably ‘Love Me Like A Reptile’ and ‘Another Perfect Day’.”
“Yeah, not shagging The Nolans. The good thing about that, though, is it can still be rectified.”
Over to you girls!