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Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead Frontman, Dead at 70

730px-Lemmy Kilmister

Photo By Alejandro Páez (Molcatron on Flickr)

Lemmy Kilmister

The cancelled Motörhead concert in Salt Lake City last August was, in retrospect, the writing on the wall.  Lemmy, exiting stage left four songs in because of back pain was an ominous harbinger of future reckoning.  A man of Lemmy Kilmister's stock doesn’t cancel anything, least of all a gig.  This mountainous slab o' granite just knocks back a few whiskey shots and dips his seventy-year-old gnarled knuckle into the ever-present bindle of speed and next thing you know, he’s playing the encore to a standing ovation.

The respect garnered from metal, thrash and punk bands came because Lemmy was himself, always, and kids can smell bullshit like hyenas smell decaying flesh. Lemmy was a pirate, and Motörhead was his Jolly Roger flying Brigantine, the drummer and guitarist his murderous first mate and crew.  They sailed on a lifelong journey filled with drunken, plunderous stops in exotic ports of call the world over.

Fuck radio and fuck the hits, Lemmy plays whatever Lemmy wants.  And man, in the backstabbing, boot licking suck-up world of major record labels, that’s a refreshing drink of coolness indeed. And everybody knows it.

James Parker further explains the frontman's appeal in The Atlantic:

 “There is a second prime, we are discovering, in the life cycle of a rock-and-roller, a madder and more precarious second heyday. The potency of early manhood passes, and its beauty is a memory. Barely a blip now travels around the once-blazing circuit of your inspiration. Your bones ache, your voice is shot, and the rags of age are upon you. But you keep going. You keep playing. And gradually this becomes the thing about you: You’re still there. You endure, you defy, and the older and gnarlier you get, the more magnificent the rebellion is. Creaking recklessly, in swaggering infirmity, you sally forth; you hit the road again and again (and again) and you give the people what they want. And now, check it out, they don’t just worship you. Now they love you.”

When the guest list at your 70th birthday party includes Lars Ulrich, Slash, and Steve Vai among others, not counting the video messages from Iggy Pop, Billy Gibbons and Gene Simmons, you can pretty much be sure that you have the respect of your peers. Lemmy Kilmister, founder and driving force of Motörhead, the cannon that blasted for 40 years off the rock and roll starboard bow, is silenced forever.

 

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