Lemmy Kilmister from Motörhead in 10 songs

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From Hawkwind to Probot, via decades of Motörhead madness, this is the late metal icon at his best. By Dan Epstein, Richard Bienstock, Hank Shteamer, Christopher Krovatin, Kory Grow, Joseph Hudak / Translated by Mélanie Geffroy

Gloomy, dangerous, raw, Lemmy Kilmister’s songs, both with and without Motörhead, perfectly embodied the spirit of rock & roll. From the perilous, born-to-lose anthem “Ace of Spades” and the rumbling praise song “Overkill” to stinging, headbanging tracks like “Hellraiser” and “Sake Your Blood” , his contribution to the album Probot, he wrote the soundtrack to his life. Its influence extended from hard rock to heavy metal to punk. And even if Lemmy died at the age of 70 from an aggressive form of cancer on Monday, December 28, 2015, he left behind lifetimes of the most iconic rock songs ever roared. Here are 10 of the best.

“Motorhead” (1975)

Written on the balcony of the infamous “Riot House” hotel in West Hollywood during the 1974 Hawkwind Tour, Lemmy’s fast-paced anthem gave his next band its name, mission statement and role model. acoustic. “ I can’t get enough/And you know it’s righteous stuff “, Lemmy sang about the amphetamines that got him started Hawkwind, the most psychedelic album, but the same sentiments could certainly apply to Motörhead’s brand of hammering hard rock so addictively. “ And yes, I’m the only person who puts the word “parallelogram” in a rock & roll song.”, Lemmy later thought about the song. “ I am very proud of it “.

“Damage Case” (1979)

Lemmy, a proud seducer, seems to be as obscene as possible on “Damage Case”, the highlight of Overkillwhen he sings lyrics written by his friend Mick Farren: “ I ain’t looking to victimize you/All I want to do is tantalize you “. It’s a lively, messy, dirty piece of rock & roll, the sort of lascivious mauling that Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis would have recorded if they weren’t expected to be good, upstanding youth. But more importantly for Kilmister, “Damage Case” also exposed just how capable he is of playing bass as a lead instrument, when he pulls off a wild, barely controlled turnaround between his typically snappy attack in the middle of the song, just in time for more lyrics like “ I don’t care what you think your game is/I don’t care even what your name is “. He was never shy.

“Stay Clean” (1979)

“Stay Clean” is a declaration of Motörhead’s loftier aspirations. While many of the band’s songs are drenched in the band’s admittedly childish desire for hard drink and young girls, this kinetic track from the album Overkill from 1979 focuses on the integrity behind the outlaw mindset, the rejection of fear, the understanding of the injustice of the world, the trust in oneself more than anyone else. It’s easy, when you allow yourself to be blinded by all his behind-the-scenes debauchery, to forget that Lemmy was a man of principle, but “Stay Clean” is a strict, classic reminder.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” (1979)

Opening with probably Lemmy’s most provocative aside (“This is it!”), “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is the notoriously violent pochtron’s indictment of heroin. Yes, it’s Lemmy who warns the children not to touch drugs. The allusions are numerous: in just one verse, he sings about getting “pricked”, “heroin”, “white girl” and “rails” with the weary experience of someone who has watched friends become addicted to needlework. But the song that starts the album Bomber from 1979 never sleeps. Instead, it’s lively with attitude and boasts one of Lemmy’s most insistent vocal performances. It’s a metal classic, both caustic and warning.

“Ace of Spades” (1980)

Lemmy often complained that he had written better songs, but that his fans refused to let him remove “Ace of Spades” from the setlist. It’s easy to see why, since the track from the band’s 1980 album has it all: a vulgar groove driven by Lemmy’s roaring bass, an indelible four-note riff, and cocky lyrics that sum up pretty much Lemmy’s personal philosophy (“ You know I’m born to lose/And gambling’s for fools/But that’s they way I like it, baby/I don’t want to live forever “). Despite its completely uncompromising nature, “Ace of Spades” spent twelve weeks on the UK Top Singles chart, reaching number 15. Although it never charted in the United States, the song’s performance by the group in an episode of Plugged in unplugged in 1984 caused many American viewers to become avid Motörhead fans.

“Iron Fist” (1982)

From its galloping, hazy bass intro to its catchy “you know me” chorus, “Iron Fist” is pure adrenaline. The lyrics are some of the group’s most indirect (for example, ” Moon eclipse and you know why/Ghost rider in the sky/Beast of evil, devil’s hound/Tooth and claw, they pull you down “), but as with many great Motörhead songs, the song’s power lies in Lemmy’s conviction. When he sings lyrics like “ You know me, the snakebite’s kiss », he is sincere, God knows what that meant.

“Killed by Death” (1984)

Only Lemmy and Motörhead could come up with such an absurd name. It’s brilliant. “Killed by Death”, one of four new songs included in the compilation No Remorse 1984’s must-have, depicts Lemmy looking down on the Grim Reaper, albeit with a smirk. At one point, he threatens to put his “snake on you” (“ snake on you “), before swearing that he “is not a pretty boy” (” ain’t no pretty boy “). (And nothing truer has ever been said.) The song, which lasts over four minutes, interminable by Motörhead standards, is smug and arrogant in every sense of the word. And she’s a perfect example of what Lenny did so well: keeping the “hard” in “hard rock.”

“No Voices in the Sky” (1991)

Lemmy went political with his remarkable and extraordinary album 1916. He blasted the rich, greedy, cowardly, greedy politicians and, more scathingly, he eviscerated the television preachers and the money-for-salvation gospel they peddled. In the end, there was “no voice in heaven” (“ no voices in the sky “) who was coming to save you, as he roared in the chorus, only the sad reality that we can’t take anything with us when we die. While other Motörhead songs are more well-known, “No Voices” and its music video were dropping out the ultimate tribute: being criticized by Beavis and Butt-Head on MTV. “ He looks like the guy down the street who’s always working on his car.”, Butt-Head told Lemmy. “ This guy is cool “. And it’s impossible not to agree.

“Hellraiser” (1992)

In the early 1990s, Ozzy Osbourne turned to his old friend Kilmister, who had headlined Motörhead on Ozzman’s first solo tour, for help writing melodies for what would become his LP No More Tears, quadruple platinum disc. In addition to the Emmy-winning “I Don’t Want to Change the World,” Kilmister helped him write “Hellraiser,” a searing declaration of rock & roll fury that took 10 minutes to complete. singer to write. In Ozzy’s hands, it’s an exploding anthem (and an album highlight) but for Motörhead, who included it on March ör Die, their 1992 album, and in a Pinhead film, it was a raw, imp-like barroom rocker (in other words, the perfect Motörhead song). “ I don’t know if Ozzy liked my version of the song.”Kilmister told WECB this year. “ He never said it “.

“Shake Your Blood” (2004)

Dave Grohl made a metalhead’s ultimate dream come true with Probot, the 2004 album on which he teamed up with some of his favorite genre professionals for a series of concrete songs that were also homages to those signature sonic signatures of other artists. With “Shake Your Blood,” Grohl essentially distills 30 years of Motörhead goodness into 3 and a half glorious minutes, inviting Lemmy to do the same. The singer was happy to oblige, injecting his up-tempo ode to the rock & roll lifestyle with his patented mocking and lecherous attitude (“ Looking for relief in your miserable life/You need some rock & roll, and you better get it right “). Like many of Lemmy’s best songs, this track leaves you wondering how a singer with such a limited range could pull off such a catchy and melodically compelling performance. One of the many trade secrets he took with him to the grave.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.