Yesterday, Motörhead reported some glum news in a Facebook post that begins, “There is no easy way to say this… our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.”
Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister celebrated his 70th birthday on Christmas Eve. Two days later, he learned about his deadly and cruel ailment. Two days after that, Lemmy passed away. This doesn’t mean that Lemmy is gone, not by any stretch. Like deceased creative geniuses before him, Lemmy will be remembered by the cultural contributions he left behind, which were many and diverse.
As is obvious, Lemmy was known for his music. In the ’60s, he was a member of rock groups The Rockin’ Vickers and Sam Gopal before joining Hawkwind and later forming Motörhead in the ’70s. Lemmy was also known for his numerous sexual exploits and ability to consume copious amounts of alcohol; anecdotes of his wild adventures have become something of legend. For instance, he claimed to have slept with over 1,200 women in his life, and here’s Oasis co-founder Liam Gallagher’s story of meeting Lemmy and having his drink choice criticized.
What is often overlooked about Lemmy’s life, however, is how much of a nerd he was, right up until the very end: When he found out about his cancer, Lemmy was at home, playing a bartop video game. He got the setup from The Rainbow Bar and Grill in the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, which he used to frequent and where he was often seen playing the same game.
Lemmy was also a big fan of science fiction and fantasy. His band Hawkwind was a pioneer of space rock, a genre of progressive and psychedelic rock music whose lyrical themes were usually about the fantastical, outer space and other magical fields of interest. Lemmy’s first album with the band, 1972’s Doremi Fasol Latido, tells an epic tale about the Hawklords battle against corrupt forces of evil.
It makes sense, then, that Lemmy was a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings series and J.R.R. Tolkien in general, so much so that he was interviewed for a documentary about the series, Ringers: Lord of the Fans. He also had a cameo appearance in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, a 2000 superhero movie that was narrated by Stan Lee.
Lemmy’s interests were all over the map because that’s who he was, and he shared his unfiltered self with the world; Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett reflected on Lemmy’s influence on him by saying, “I realized that it was OK to be an outsider and that it was OK to not feel like I had to conform to anything that I objected to in my teenage life, because clearly the Motörhead guys in this picture looked like they didn’t conform to anything at all, and boy, it sure looked and sounded like they were enjoying themselves as a result.”
One thing you couldn’t rightfully accuse Lemmy of was not enjoying himself. As a result, he lived a fulfilling life and has actually been prepared to accept his end for years, saying in 2013 about death, “I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”
Rest in peace, Lemmy, who by the way would probably hate this obituary and the rest of the posthumous praise he is sure to receive in the upcoming weeks, considering that he once said, “People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are. But it’s not true! People are still a–holes, they’re just dead a–holes!”
Featured image courtesy of Rama