(Unless you live in Ted Cruz’s basement, you surely know that December 27, 2015 marked the end of one of the most remarkable careers in rock music and heavy metal. Lemmy Kilmister, the nigh-indestructible frontman of England’s grizzled Motorhead, passed away after 70 years of loud music, strong drink, millions of miles of road and enough vice to kill a dozen men. Here at Wormwood, I thought some of us should tip our hats to him. In addition to thoughts from myself, we also have tributes from Rusty Coffinnails and the seldom-seen Solomon G. The Great Sun Jester takes the opportunity to analyze one of Motorhead’s many albums and Theron Moore goes so far as to ask several of his rocking friends how Lemmy’s departure affected them. All in all, I think it’s a pretty well-rounded tribute…which I shall now leave you to peruse!—Dr. Abner Mality)

Louder than Life:  A Tribute to Lemmy Kilmister

By Theron Moore

Death is a hard nut to crack. Simply said, it’s a mind fuck, a tough one to wrap your head around, especially those of us left behind to deal with not having, whomever it might be, in your life any longer.   When Lemmy died, it took me right back to the day my father died, March 12th, 2010.  A couple of months later Ronnie James Dio passed away.  Dio was just as much a hero to me as my dad was.  On December 28th, 2015, we added Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister to this list of icons lost. 
I found Motorhead in 1984 when I saw back to back videos of “Ace of Spades” and “Iron Fist” on a daily half hour video block MTV ran prior to launching Headbanger’s Ball.  They did the show Monday through Friday, midafternoons.  I was a junior in high school.  Blew my damn mind.  They were ugly, they were gritty, they were loud.  What won me over was their attitude and swagger. They were punk but they weren’t.  They were metal but they weren’t.  

Motorhead was the embodiment of what rock N roll should sound and look like.  And Lemmy was its poster child.  He was the incarnation of sex, drugs and rock N roll.  And his band, his music, his exploits gained him near mythical status over the years.  In fact, there’s an old joke that kind of goes something like this: “Who’s more powerful, Lemmy or God?  Trick question.  Lemmy IS god.” Hence, the mythical status part.

If we were talking about a regular guy facing the health issues Lemmy had, it wouldn’t be such a shock to hear of said person’s demise.  Hell, that could be any one of us, right?   But we’re not talking about cuppa joe here, we’re talking about a man who became both icon and rock god.  Lemmy.  We’re talking about a guy whose lifestyle rivaled that of Keith Richards.  Lemmy.  We’re talking about a guy who was a living, breathing, chapter in rock N roll history, design schematics included.  Lemmy.

Not every band, every musician can lay claim to being a trailblazer but both he and his band, Motorhead, were.  Think about that word for a moment:  Trailblazer.  Consider its definition – “A pioneer, an innovator.”  Quite appropriate.  Lemmy often referred to his idols, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, that same way:  Trailblazers.  Now he’s part of that pantheon.  

Lemmy shall be remembered the way he lived – in course of celebration.  He feared not death and carried with him nary a want nor regret.  An example to us all, I think.  And with that said, I believe that’s about as maudlin as I care to get with my tribute to him.  If he were here today he’d probably punch me in the eye for writing this.  “Life’s to be lived, not eulogized, you big pussy!” I’ve decided to ask a few of my friends in the rock N roll community to offer their recollections on Lemmy and honor the man, who he was:  Lemmy, MOTHERFUCKING, Kilmister.  Singer, for all time, of Motorhead.

Jerry Sofran
Vanishing Kids

“Yes, Theron, I did run into Lemmy Kilmister once. I was with my band, forchristsake, in Hollywood for a week of shows back in '92. On the first night in L.A., me and our soundman, Ron Beck, went drinking on the Sunset Strip. After getting our game faces on back at the motel, we hit the strip. Now this was during the Rodney King riots, so Sunset Blvd was empty. We were warned not to walk the streets at night. Right. 

So Ron and I have the whole strip to ourselves, and soon we were getting ripped at the Rainbow. About an hour in and feelin' good I spot Lemmy heading downstairs, so my drunk ass thought it was appropriate to confront him alone on the staircase. It was just me and Lemmy, and I'm screaming “Ace of Spades! Ace of Spades!” asking to do a duet with him! 

At the bottom of the stairs, Lemmy, with me right behind, turns around, put his wart to my eye, balls his fist, and tells me in his thick English accent (that) "I'm not really into that right now!" I immediately realized an ass-whipping from the MAN in his bar was a bad idea, and began apologizing, throwing out Hawkwind references, and he turned around and kept walking. So I left Lemmy alone until we left the Rainbow, but on the way out I noticed him at a table of rock stars by the exit, and as leaving, pointed and growled "To the end!!" at him. I don't know why I said that, but it's been a motto ever since. 

So a week later, at forchristsake's last L.A. show, who's at the bar? Lemmy. Fuck man, he looked fairly tweaked out. My bandmates made me confront him again, so I sat next to him. I could feel him shaking from what I figured was speed or coke?  I didn't feel like fucking with him again, since I was such an ass the last time. Lemmy of course, leaves before our set, and I never got to talk to him again. A few years later, a mutual friend told me Lemmy remembered me, and gave me an autograph where he tells me to fuck off. I gotta stop pissing off celebrities Theron.

The picture on the upper right shows my friend, licking Lemmy's warts on his tour bus. I didn't believe her when she said she knew Lemmy, so she gave me the pic and autograph.”

Dan Hobson
Madison, WI

“There is a flyer somewhere. Me, my brother, Bill, and a buddy, Cole, were hired to do security by Tony Selig the late music promoter who was Bud Selig's (former MLB commissioner) nephew.  Motorhead played for maybe 80-90 people - Lemmy told me it was the smallest crowd they'd played in front of.  

Anyhow, Lemmy was angry. The sound was awful - loud, but terrible. During sound check, Lemmy admonished the sound guy, "Mr. Soundman, if you could do sound as well as I can play this bass {Lemmy plays a little staccato-Lemmy-bass-riff} then we'd all be alright now wouldn't we?"

                                                       Flyer courtesy of Imminent Attack (

Brad Skaife
Imminent Attack
Madison, WI

“There are no words to describe the emotions of hearing about Lemmy passing away. As my thoughts raced, a few things came to light. How cool would it be to come off tour and have a 70TH birthday party? 70 years young. Are you fuckin’ kidding me? We can only hope to live a life as full as his.  If there was only one word to describe Lemmy it would be AMAZING. He was an amazing bass player and amazing song writer. Amazing at everything he did. The music world will never be the same again without Motorhead. 

I am proud to say we, Imminent Attack, were fortunate enough to play a show with them back in the mid ‘80’s. This was about a year before “Orgasmatron” came out. All the Motorhead classics like “Ace of Spades,” “Iron Fist,” “Killed by Death,” “Jailbait” and “Snaggletooth” were part of their set back then. Our singer (Kevin) got a call and was asked if we would open for Motorhead as they were coming to Madison on Dec. 16th, 1985. This is from my journal: 

“The show was at Turner Hall and the sound system is 10,000 watts. Opening bands don’t get to experience the volume of the main band, but in a gymnasium the echo from being too loud can make it hard to hear the other guys in the band and the main thing was to play a tight set. 

It was the biggest rush ever being on that stage knowing that we were opening for Motorhead. Unbelievable. After the show: I was playing pinball and Lemmy came up and talked to me for a bit. He was very cool and level headed. He said he liked our style. It didn’t sink in until later that he must have been watching our set to recognize me. Kevin (our singer) and his girlfriend went to their bus to party.”

As I write this it’s Tuesday and my ears are still ringing from the show.


By Dark Starr

Where should I begin talking about Lemmy? Well, I guess with Hawkwind. That’s how I first found out about Lemmy, through his work with that band. I always liked the songs he wrote for Hawkwind, and the funny thing is, I can still hear some of that Hawkwind sound in some of the Motorhead music. Sure, it’s different, but that thundering bass is there and there are other connections in the sound at times, too.
When I first heard Motorhead (the Ace of Spades album was the first one I got), I feel in love with the sound. The thing about Motorhead is the group was raw, but also powerful and polished at times in a weird way. The writing was limited, a lot of times with the same basic song getting new lyrics and flourishes and becoming a different tune. The band was really Lemmy, though.
My live experience with Motorhead might be a bit different than most people. The first two or three times I saw them, the sound was so bad, the music wasn’t even recognizable. I thought for a while that they must be the worst live band around. Then, I saw not just a good Motorhead show, but a great one. From that point forward I saw another two or three shows and they were exceptional.
As a bass player, I have a deep respect for Lemmy. He was never all that technical or flashy. But, I had never heard anyone play thundering bass like he did. Since then Alan Davey has a similar style, but I know Davey and he grew up listening to and emulating Lemmy, so that makes sense. The fact that Lemmy played a Rickenbacker was great, too, as it’s my favorite bass. And, how can forget that particular Ricky Lemmy played. It’s such a beautiful guitar.
Everything about Lemmy was unique. I can’t remember ever seeing anyone else crane his neck upward to a microphone that was perched above the head. His bass style was innovative. He was uncompromising in his musical vision and his life. One thing I think is pretty obvious, Lemmy was genuine. He told people what he thought. While the way he did that was often a bit rough around the edges, there was a wisdom to what he said. Even when you didn’t agree with him, his opinions demanded respect because they were real. It’s a safe bet that there will never be another Lemmy. He made his mark on rock music, and he will be missed.---DARK STARR

By Dr. Abner Mality

There will be no wheelchairs or walkers for Ian Fraser Kilmister. No lingering demise in an antiseptic facility designed for those who die slow. His sudden death on December 27, 2015 was the perfect exclamation point on a life lived loud and with plenty of rock n’ roll attitude. What a perfect exit.

That leaves the rest of us to mourn, though. He was the grumpy but big-hearted old uncle of every person in the world of heavy metal, punk and balls-out rock n roll. It’s tough to lose a mentor and a role model. Lemmy’s passing brought a cold and chill wind across my soul.  I know we won’t be seeing anybody like him again. And that’s the real tragedy behind the death of the warty old dinosaur. But at least he gives us something to aim for, even if that mark is almost impossible to meet.

Although it’s almost impossible to conceive, Lemmy wasn’t always a grizzled rocker. He was a young man once, who worked in a factory, a situation he described as unendurable. Rock N Roll was an escape hatch for him, like it was for many young men in industrial working class Britain. The wild antics of Little Richard proved inspirational and a night watching The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club was a revelation. He puttered around in small bands like the Rainmakers and the Motown Sect, learning his trade and playing bass. His first taste of success came with a band called the Rocking Vickers, who originally were called the Rocking Vicars but had to change the name because people took offense at the religious connotations.

After leaving the Vickers, young Lemmy moved to London and moved in with Noel Redding, who happened to be the bass player for a young firebrand called Jimi Hendrix. As a result, Lemmy wound up being a roadie for Hendrix, which introduced him to a harder and more experimental type of rock music. During that period, he played with Indian-born psychedelic rock guru Sam Gopal and the band of the same name. Listening to the very 60’s acid rock sound of Sam Gopal, I’m rather reminded of Spinal Tap’s first hit “Listen to the Flower People”. But as spacy as Sam Gopal was, that was nothing compared to the next band Lemmy joined.

That was the acid-soaked space rockers Hawkwind, legendary for their far out live shows. Lemmy brought a harder edge to their music and sang lead on one of their signature tunes “Silver Machine”. Lemmy’s nickname in the band was “Count Motorhead” and indeed he wrote the song “Motorhead” while still in Hawkwind. After four years, he found himself wanting to do something meaner and heavier, Punk rock was starting to stir in Old Blighty and Lemmy felt drawn to the spirit of the music. So in 1975, after he got fired from Hawkwind, he put together the band he would forever be associated with, Motorhead.

The first few efforts from the band were rather tentative and sounded like a harder version of Hawkwind. But when Fast Eddie Clarke and Philthy Animal Taylor came on board, the real band took shape. “Overkill” and “Bomber” were some of the rawest, heaviest music of their time. “We want to be the band that kills your lawn when we move next door, “ Lemmy said. With the brutal “Ace of Spades” album, Motorhead made their deepest mark yet. That’s where I first became aware of them. “Who are these scumbags?” I asked after seeing the pseudo-outlaw vision on the “Aces of Spades” cover. This was also the first Motorhead album to get major visibility in America.

When Fast Eddie left the band, Motorhead had to weather its first crisis. In came former Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson for one album, “Another Perfect Day”. When Robertson didn’t work out, Lemmy almost threw in the towel, but he kept going with a new lineup that included two guitarists, Wurzel and Phil Campbell, as well as drummer Mikkey Dee.

From that point on, Motorhead was a model of consistency, releasing new albums like clockwork. And Lemmy found himself becoming transformed from mere frontman to an icon and legend who showed the young pups how an old dog rock and rolled. Right up until the day he stepped up to his favorite poker machine in the Whiskey and pulled the lever for the last time.

Part of Lemmy’s appeal was his clever and raw lyrics. No better critic of religion or politics has ever been found in heavy metal. Check the lyrics on “Orgasmatron” for proof. He could be brutal, funny and even tender. The lyrics he did for the ballad “1916” were a heartfelt look at the lost generation who died in the trenches of World War 1.  His gruff vocals added real emotion there, too. Another different song was “Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me”, where he dealt with incest in a very sensitive way. Beneath the leather and armor beat a real human heart that was heavy with how humans mistreated each other and the planet.
But there was a rowdy, good time rockin’ side to his lyrics,too.

That voice has been stilled now. The Rickenbacker will roar no more. I don’t know how much longer gritty rock and metal will exist in a corporate-run world castrated of anything real. But we can look back at Lemmy and see how to do it the right way.

By Rusty Coffinnails

We lost a legend with the death of Lemmy Kilmister. I am not sure what can be said that has not already been said but I'll add my 2 cents. Unfortunately I have never had the pleasure of meeting Lemmy so I can only imagine that he was the real deal: a larger than life rock star, not the asshole kind who are put out by having to talk to fans but the dude who would take the time to make eye contact and stop and chat for a bit. I did manage to catch them live in about 83 or 84, Motorhead put on a top notch show even in the little shit hole dive venue. I had seen other "big" names come through there and they seemed put out to have to play in a place like that. They'd cut the sets short and just take off. But Lemmy and Motorhead seemed to give 110% even if the stop paid little to nothing.

Not many class acts like this left nowadays. Rock on, Lemmy, you will not be forgotten.
“Another Perfect Wake” 

By the Great Sun Jester

1985 was a year of firsts for me. I hit my first decade of life and discovered rock music destined to change everything for me. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, AC/DC, Judas Priest… and Motorhead. In the days before Headbanger’s Ball, MTV occasionally played a genuine hard rock or metal video, but typically in the wee hours when the channel’s predominantly pop oriented audience slept. I loved staying up late on the weekends and watching television. Naked women in movies landed on my radar, for sure, but I spent most of my time patiently waiting for MTV to show something that grabbed my attention.

The live video for “Ace of Spades” grabbed me. Watching the band menace the Hammersmith stage like rough-edged brawlers itching for a fight filled me with something between excitement and fear. My pulse quickened, but I never looked away. My growing cassette collection needed some Motorhead, but I didn’t find Ace of Spades in the local mall. The band’s latest album at the time, "Another Perfect Day", graced the shelves and definitely caught my eye with its garish cover art. The parents forked over some cash for a copy and I stared at the cover for the entirety of the night ride home.

I didn’t know a thing about Brian Robertson and his contentious-from-the-outset tenure with the band. However, the blues rock polish of the lead guitar on tracks like the opener “Back at the Funny Farm” knocked me back a little. Lemmy’s vocals centered things for me. He delivers the darkly comic lyric with aggressive enthusiasm that’s hard to resist at any age. The musical trio of Lemmy, Robertson and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor careened through the song’s changes with bug-eyed, white knuckled energy. The melodies caught me by surprise as well. “Shine” sounds like Motorhead re-envisioned now and, even if it scarcely resembles the rough-hewn unit who had bulldozed the hard rock and metal world, Lemmy’s presence gives the track a signature stamp. “Dancing on Your Grave” carries the same weight and occasionally cropped up in the live set long after many labeled the album and tour a curiosity.

There are many other fine songs that, perhaps, don’t sound like Motorhead. So what? "Another Perfect Day" opened the door into Motorhead’s world for me and remains among my favorites. Each album is a piece in a larger puzzle and the objective fact that Lemmy himself, while conceding Robbo wasn’t a good fit for the band, never dismissed the songs makes this release indispensible to any Motorhead fan. Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

I’ve been fortunate to often find the right music at the right time. Motorhead was no exception. They spoke to many growing passions still sustaining my imagination, frightened, and thrilled me. Lemmy, like Deep Purple, like Black Sabbath, knew how to make an entrance, but more importantly, he knew how to leave. Motorhead’s music, from first album to last, will outlast us all and "Another Perfect Day" isn’t an exception. 
Lemmy, Motörhead, and Me

By Solomon G

I like to believe my story is not unique, and I know for a fact it is not. Motörhead were a band for the people, regardless of who you are. If you love rock and roll, you love Motörhead - that’s all there is to it.

The band, Motörhead, appealed to me completely before I even ever heard their music. 1980, poring over an issue of Cheri magazine, and there was a quarter page review of "Ace Of Spades" with the cover of the album. The bullet belts, the ugly dudes, the attitude: I knew I loved them already. When I finally heard them at a club called Radio City [perhaps before one of the earliest Slayer gigs], they did indeed sound simultaneously as nothing I’d ever heard before, and almost exactly how I’d imagined they might sound from that album cover. I distinctly recall two amazonian metal chicks with leather jackets, bandana wristbands, shag hairdos, and painted faces yelling in unison, “Motörhead! Motörhead! Motörhead!” until the DJ relented to blast the requested sound from the house PA. I felt like I was listening to the future - there was, and still is, no other rock and roll really this intense.

My first Motörhead concert was at a voluminous[!] hanger-sized club called Billy Barty’s Roller Disco, in Fullerton, CA, for the Another Perfect Tour, with Brian Robertson on guitar, and Philthy still in the band. Robertson was clearly drunk and sweaty, and did not play one sour note. He was rather unfortunately wearing only a pair of white pajama bottoms and a doggie choke collar, for which Lemmy never let slip an opportunity to lambaste him from the stage between every tune. It was so hilarious, even Robertson was laughing. The place was so huge, that at the back of the hall, Motörhead sounded like a jet turbine engine and you had to get near the front of the stage to actually hear music. It was so loud it blew your fucking hair back. Very exhilarating! I used to do a lot of meth back then, and the moment was perfect. everything about that show was perfect.

Maybe a year later, living in a seedy motel near the beach on Main Street, Huntington Beach, a buddy left his tape collection and cartoonishly oversized boom-box at my place for safekeeping [he was also my speed connection]. Lo and behold - one of the tapes was  "Iron Fist"! To this point, I was still a ‘casual’ Motörhead fan, and hadn’t really delved full-on into their oeuvre, so this was my real entranceway to Motörhead fandom. As you know, the whole album rules, but there is a singular track that stood out [and still does] for me: Loser. It’s the middle-finger to the man tale of a lifer, like yours truly, telling the man to basically eat shit. “Yeah, I’m a loser - fuck you!” There was a defining moment of my life, walking down the street on a busy, touristy Saturday, giant ghetto-blaster balanced on my shoulder, volume on eleven, blaring Loser to the world, well at least downtown Huntington Beach. High as hell on speed and alcohol, I was living the music, and the music was me! Oh, my - the people did stare! Frightened grandpas, lustful ladies, skeptical storekeepers, grinning heshers of all stripes. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to having an actual theme song.

Over the decades, along with Priest, Motörhead are one of the bands I’ve seen so many times I have lost count [for some reason, hearing "Love Me Forever" for the first time live on the Operation Rock And Roll package tour still stands out as a goosebumps moment]. I like to think that Lemmy remembered me when he saw me, because I am a very enthusiastic headbanger and easy to spot in a crowd, plus I can yell very loud and know many lyrics. I could swear I saw a look of recognition in his eye a time or two, but maybe that’s wishful thinking. Maybe Lemmy looked at every true fan that way. I like to think he knew I understood Motörhead. I do believe he would.

Gonna miss you, Lemmy. Thank you for helping me to be whatever it is I am. You and the boys are definitely, at least in part, responsible. There ain’t no more like you. Thank you again.