Book review: Lemmy
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Here’s the thing: I never really got Mötorhead, but loved Hawkwind circa 1971-1975. I never got to see the former live either, although I did plonk down cash for a gig in Johannesburg in the early years of the century. The bums cancelled at the last minute.
Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who played bass guitar for Hawkwind from 1971 to 1975 and then went on to fame/infamy as leader of Mötorhead, was one of the genuine wild men of rock, but also one of the more textured exemplars of his kind.
In this page-turning biography, Mick Wall, former music PR flunky and inveterate churner-outer of rock/metal tomes, tells the Lemmster’s torrid tale of sex, drugs and… more drugs and more sex. What about rock n roll, you might ask? Well, it’s all there: career highs and lows from being a roadie for Jimi Hendrix to the Rockin’ Vicars, Sam Gopal, Hawkwind and the 40-year career of Mötorhead, which only terminated with our hero’s death at the ripe old age – for a rocker – of 70, in December.
Present and kind of correct are descriptions of the albums and singles, shifting band line-ups, the man’s titanic capacity for shoving drink and drugs down his piehole or up his schnozz in the case of Peruvian Marching Ants (He claims he was fired from Hawkwind for taking “the wrong drugs” ).
Also his enthusiastic consumption of anything in a skirt while remaining commitment-averse. The bassist/vocalist was famous for his huge collection of Nazi and Confederate memorabilia (daggers were a favourite).
Yet Wall, who was friendly with his subject for decades, is at pains to show the other side of Lemmy – the intelligent, funny, sensitive and ultimately, lonely soul.
The book is based on extensive interviews with Lemmy, bandmates and managers. Particularly poignant is the input from Stacia Blake, the generously proportioned dancer for Hawkwind. She and the gnarly, wart-encrusted, leather-clad-rocker were fast friends, but never lovers.
If rock biogs are your speed, you’ll find much to entertain – and sometimes sadden you – here. * Lemmy by Mick Wall is published by Orion/Jonathan Ball