I Have Never Drunk Milk and Other Confessions of Lemmy
On Christmas Eve, 2014, the old, now-ailing warrior turned 69. His plans were the same as they had been for the last few years: to head off to Las Vegas for a few days, play the slot machines and check out the chicks. Some things, though, were now different. Having swapped Jack Daniel’s and coke for vodka and orange, he was now dutifully doing his best to stick to wine. Of course it would have been much better for Lemmy to drink nothing at all, but as he’d joked in the past with me, “I don’t mind living longer. I just don’t want it to seem longer.” Somehow the thought of going through a day and night without at least something to help him on his way he considered intolerable and, more, grossly unfair. Nevertheless, he’d been spending less and less time in the Rainbow recently, sometimes only twice a week.
The rest of the world might still preferred to think of Lemmy as somehow immortal, but the man himself knew he wasn’t. Fast approaching his eighth decade, and beset by aches, pains and more serious ailments, he knew he had to make some serious lifestyle changes, however grudgingly. “Getting old is the worst thing that can happen to anybody,” he told Metal Hammer. “I don’t recommend it. It’s no fun waking up in hospital.”
The very last time I spoke to Lemmy, during a fleeting promotional visit to London, the mood was reflective, sombre. He was flying back to LA the next morning. “I’ve got to water my plants, man. Cos they never get watered enough. I might have a dead vine, who knows?” I asked if, as he got older, his relationship to God had changed at all. He looked at me, was I taking the piss? No. I meant in a spiritual sense, not a religious one. He puffed out his cheeks. “They say God moves in mysterious ways. Well, it’s too fucking mysterious for me, buddy. How about solving a few of them fucking mysteries for once. Oh, we have to take what God says… WHY?” he shouted. “I don’t like him! I think he’s a sadistic fucking maniac! How’s that? Or he’s out of the office whenever we call, you know? God, you know, big deal. Spelled backwards is dog.”
He had always been a loner. At this time of his life though did he ever think he might prefer to have someone share his bed on a more permanent basis? I expected another look. But this time he was more thoughtful.
“Well, it didn’t work out that way for me, you know. Cos I always felt…” Pause. “A set, a concert, lasts for an hour and a half. Sex is what, half an hour at most. The concert won. And also, I’ve never been able to find a girl that would stop me chasing all the others. If I do, I would be only too happy to stop chasing girls. But I never found it, yeah? And I’m not gonna get married and lie. And then run around. Cos I’m an honest man. If I get married to somebody I will never chase another woman. But I haven’t found it yet.
“These guys get married then run around on the day of their wedding, for Christ’s sake, don’t they, some of them. Fuck that, what’s that? It’s just poor. Or to be politically correct and have a wife of a certain age so she can stand next to you and welcome the fucking guests. Balls, I’d rather hire a hooker. ‘Hello, baby, dress up good and come on over. We gotta welcome some guests!’”
I asked him which of the many Motörhead albums he would play to anyone who had never heard his music and being Lemmy he immediately named his newest few. No mention of Overkill or Bomber. He was still professing the superiority of the final Campbell-Dee line-up over the classic Clarke-Taylor line-up, even though Motörhead still ended their shows with ‘Ace Of Spades’ each night. Still elicited the greatest reaction from their faithful audiences for all the ‘classics’.
At the end of the day, he said, he liked “brutal” music. And the current band was simply faster, more full on. He said.
“I’m not a brutal man but I like brutal music. It’s good for you, it helps to take you out of that safe cocoon you’ve got for yourself, you know. What do you want safe rock’n’roll for, man? What the fuck is it for? Rock’n’roll was supposed to be rebellion with no apparent goal. It’s just rebellion for the sake of it, because it pisses your parents off. If your mother says she likes it there’s something wrong with it, it’s not rock’n’roll. It’s true, though, isn’t it? Who the fuck wants your mother to come and listen to it with you? ‘Oh, I like them harmonies!’ Let me play you this one, mum. ‘Oh, that’s a terrible noise!’ You know?
“The trouble with now is everybody’s hip. Everybody’s hip. The delivery boy, the fucking green grocer, everybody’s hip now. Cos they’ve all been through some sort of rock’n’roll lifestyle. But it’s easily penetrable, isn’t it? Say, ‘How about this?’ They go, ‘Oh! It’s too loud!’ Traitor! Counter revolutionary! String him up! The guillotine! The Inquisition, the Voice of Christ. We’ll kill your immortal soul. Why? In order to make you live in heaven we’ve got to burn you at the stake now. ‘Oh, that sounds good, yeah. It’s a fair cop…’”