Episode 21. Memories of Lemmy
I’ve roped a few old friends into this one. Lemmy is well known for being the ‘Godfather of Heavy Metal’ but little is written of him of his character. All of the contributors below have a few memories of him – myself included - but these give a good overall picture of just how great a man he was. The stories are headed by the year they happened.
Alan Roberts – Fan
Currently: Blah Blah Vocalist
Anyone who knew me as a kid will remember my Afghan coat that he signed backstage at DeMontfort Hall on the Overkill tour which he said it was the first Afghan he had ever signed. He autographed it "To Al love Lemola" and I treasured that smelly old coat for years until I grew out of it and could no longer wear it. Anyway, two years after he signed it, I’m working as a roadie and my mate took me to a club at which Lemmy could be regularly found propping up the bar. I walked over to him and without prompting, or an introduction, he said to me "So where`s the Afghan Al?"
Doug Young – Fan
Currently: Retired Banker
Sunday 1st April at The Lyceum in London 1979 and Motorhead are headlining with support band Girlschool. Just prior to the girls starting their set I recall Lemmy taking to the stage in order to have a word with us all about behaving whilst they were playing and not to shout out all any crude remarks. It had the air of a polite warning that here was a group that he thought were good and deserved their music to be heard. How many headliners would even think of offering such support to the first band on the bill? Lemmy did.
Steve Dawson – Saxon Bassist
Currently: Olive/Dawson Bassist
One of the first support tours we ever did was the Motörhead Bomber tour and we had to pay £4,000 to go on the tour but the deal was we could share the tour bus with them. We were a bit naïve and in awe of what we called a proper Rock band and we had to turn up at 15 Great Western Road in London which is where their management company was. The tour bus was already there – an old fashioned one with no bunks, just Parker Knoll seats – and we couldn’t get o the bus until Motörhead turned up. Lemmy went on first and he sat in the front seat because that was where all the controls were for the stereo and then Phil and Fast Eddie and we all sat accordingly opposite so as I was the bass player, I sat opposite Lemmy. We got going and Lemmy’s tour bag was one of those little brown cases like the children had in WWII when they were evacuated to the country and in there was a bottle of vodka and a bottle of orange juice which he mixed and made two bottles of vodka and orange out of. He had a drink and then passed it to me and we were teetotal at that time but he said ‘Here, have one’ so I had to have one – you daren’t say no. It was horrible but I swallowed it. Next thing, he unrolls his T-Shirt sleeve and he has a packet of sulphate (amphetamine) in there. He put some on a dagger and sniffed it and then I get the same treatment…then the spliffs come out! After about thirty minutes, I was that ill I had to run to the bog at the back of the bus and spew up! We hadn’t even got out of London! I have to say though, he was a lovely man. He used to come across as a hard Rocker but he was a big softie and very intelligent.
Graham Oliver – Saxon Guitarist
Currently: Oliver/Dawson Guitarist
We used to have long in depth talks about guitarists and Jimi Hendrix because he was a big fan and he knew I was. We played Hammersmith Odeon on the Bomber tour and Lemmy insisted on trying the dry ice at the soundcheck to make sure it would work. That was about 7:15pm and the stage was covered in water when we walked on at 7:30pm. I started Motorcycle Man in the wings and I used to run into the middle of the stage where two spotlights would hit me but it was wet and I went flat on me back. Rob Price our roadie ran onstage and picked me up but I never stopped playing. I told that story to Harry Shearer and it ended up in Spinal Tap but it was all down to Lemmy really. Another story from the same tour is when we got to Newcastle City Hall, there were three hundred people waiting for us and Lemmy was really taken aback because they were going mad and pushing and Lemmy shouted ‘Stop! Stop! We’re not the fucking Beatles!’ but they were that big at that time. On the tour bus lemmy used to constantly watch videos of himself on Top Of The Pops.
Steve Hill - Motorhead Roadie
Currently – Marine Engineer and Actor
Two memories spring to mind. The first is at Birmingham Odeon where I invited my 18 year old girl friend to the gig and introduced her to Lemmy, Phil and Eddie in their dressing room. By the time the band went on stage, courtesy of their hospitality my girlfriend was incredibly drunk. The band went back to the dressing room after the show; my girlfriend went with them. About an hour later I went over to the hotel, went up to the room, and knocked on the door. No answer but looking through the keyhole, I could see my girlfriend lying on the floor, spark out. I ended up in the next hotel room, occupant of which I had woken up with my banging on the door. Not so bad as it happened to be Scottish comedian Billy Connelly. The second would be first time Motorhead ever sold out a show which was at Newcastle City Hall and the auditorium was packed. The band were 10 minutes away from going on stage, I walked into their dressing room, to find Lemmy, Phil, and Eddie, dragging kids who didn’t have tickets through the top dressing room windows and letting them into the show for free.
Mark ‘Jabs’ Philips – Fan
Currently: Retired Train Driver
In early 1981 Motorhead announced that they were doing a short European tour with Girlschool but no gigs in UK. My friend Doug and I decided to go to the gig in Rouen, France as around this time we were starting to get to know Girlschool quite well. We arrived at the venue via boat and train at 17:00 and saw the tour bus pull up. The girls greeted us first and then Lemmy, Eddie and Phil got off and greeted us. Kim then said "Sorry guys, were going to have trouble getting you in as we don't have a guest list.” With that, Lemmy leaned over Kim's shoulder and said "I’ll sort it" True to his word we were in the venue drinking with them within 5 minutes. We were treated absolutely amazingly by both bands: whilst were on stage playing, Motorhead were with us drinking and joking and vice versa.
Ken Tubby - Fan
Currently: Retired Bus Driver
Me and my mate Ashley were in the Girlschool dressing room after the Woolwich Odeon gig on their 1981 tour having a drink with Kelly. She then kidnapped the pair of us telling us that we were going to a party and threw us into the tour bus. We ended up at the mews house of Lord Phillip Harvey where we were ushered to this very steep ladder going up to the roof garden. We climbed up to the roof and who should be standing there with a bottle of Smirnoff in each hand? “Hey lads you've got some catching up to do” Lemmy said and handed us one of the Smirnoff bottles. I nearly fell off the roof laughing; Lemmy had us in stitches all night.
Brian Shaughnessey – Fan
Currently: Seventh Son and Oliver Dawson Vocalist
I went to the Queen’s Hall in Leeds and I knew this guy who had got people backstage to meet bands and he said he could get me in. Now I had never met a band backstage at the Queen’s Hall and we walked in the dressing room and it was just a party! It was rammed with people and I met Lemmy and the others; Lemmy liked my T-shirt, Eddie offered me his bottle of vodka which was unopened and when I opened it I kept the top which kept for years and years. Just before we went in as well, there were some trestle tables set up where they sat and met all their fans and signed loads of stuff. They were doing meet and greets long before it became popular and fans didn’t have to pay!
Iron Fist UK Tour dates
Glenn Williams – Roadie
Currently: Writer/ UPP-tone
I was part of the P.A. crew for Audiolease that put together the rig for the Iron Fist tour. Four nights at Hammersmith were sold out and as there was no load-out after the first show, monitor man Mark Napier and I headed to the backstage bar for a beer. As we opened the door, we were taken aback by the thirty odd Hell's Angels in there having a raucous time, the bar staff quivering as they tried to keep up with unquenchable thirst of the unruly mob. We stood in the door momentarily and I was about to suggest what Mark was thinking - let's go elsewhere - when a gruff voice from behind said ''Excuse me” and Lemmy edged passed us. Walking straight up to their leader, Lemmy said “Let's keep it down fellahs; we've got Mums and Dads here tonight.” Said leader ushered a wave of his hand and calm descended, a few “Sorry Lemmy”s were heard and we were signaled by Lemmy to come in - all was safe. Respect is too small a word.
Lips – Anvil Guitarist and Vocalist
Currently: Anvil Guitarist and Vocalist
Our record company and their manager knew each other so we opened for them in Toronto just as our first album was coming out and we were freaking out because we loved Motörhead. It was a two show night in that we played at 5pm, then Motörhead played until 8pm and then we went back on at 9pm and the whole thing finished at midnight. Lemmy saw us and when Fast Eddie quit, he thought I would be a good replacement but I couldn’t do it because I was in the middle of writing and recording our third album – Forged In Fire – plus I was in my own band, the frontman, I didn’t want to become the second banana which really pissed Lemmy off because he couldn’t understand it. You know ‘What’s wrong with that fucking guy?’ I saw him at the Reading Festival a couple of months after it happened and he said ‘You fucking cunt! Why didn’t you join the band?!’ I tried to explain but he said ‘I don’t want to hear it!’ and walked away. A year later and he had got Brian Robertson in the band and we were at another festival in Belgium and Lemmy was there as a guest, throwing towels out of an air balloon above the crowd! Before that though, he was hanging out in this trailer and I’m walking by wearing a fringed leather jacket and the next thing I know someone grabs my fringes, I turn around and it’s Lemmy and he says ‘Get yer ass I here, I want to talk to you.’ I thought ‘Oh.oh…’ because my last meeting with him didn’t go so well. Anyway, he tells me he’s got Robbo in the band and sticks a pair of earphones on me and plays me some of the new recordings (Another Perfect Day) and I tell him it’s really good. Then he tells me ‘You’re going to come on tour with us when we do the UK next year.’ ‘Well…ok!’ Then we go on tour with Motörhead and I found out what No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith really meant! We must have gone ten days in a row playing with no days off and we final get a day off and we’re in Birmingham. Lemmy says ‘Come on up to my hotel room’ and I think ‘Yeah man, I’d love to sit down and talk’. I had no clue what was coming at all but anybody who knows Lemmy knows that means we are going to sit down, do speed and talk all night. I go up and he has a 40 oz bottle of vodka and a 60 oz bottle of orange juice and he gives me this tall glass and fills it 50/50 vodka and orange. I get about 4” down and I’m drunk, completely fucked up and he says ‘You’re looking a little wasted there Lips. Don’t worry, I’ve got something for that’ and he pulls this little leather pouch out of his jean jacket and a knife nd he sticks the knife into this pouch and it’s filled with white powder. He sticks it under my nose and says ‘Sniff it you cunt!’ and I think ‘Oh what the hell, I’m with Lemmy, day off, all good right?’ I sniffed that shit and drunk? Nope! Not anymore! Holy fuck we talked about everything and all the advice that came from that man was absolutely spot on. He was like an older brother telling me ‘You better listen to me because these are the pitfalls you are heading for’ and pretty much everything he told me came to light and being the truth. He said ‘Don’t get married; it ain’t fair on the woman. When you go away, a woman always needs a shoulder to lean on and if your shoulder ain’t there, she’ll find someone else’s shoulder’. That’s pretty much verbatim what he said and sure as shit, that’s what happened to my first marriage. There was that and he started telling me how he roadied for Jimi Hendrix and he became Jimi’s guinea pig. Jimi would say ‘Go and get me some Acid but you’ve got to try it first and tell me how strong it is and whether it’s good or bad’. Lemmy would do one hit and report back to Jimi who would then do ten. These were just a couple of the things we touched upon and the next thing we know there’s a knock on the door and it’s the Tour Manager saying let’s go. ‘Let’s go? What do you mean?’ We had had the blinds closed so we couldn’t see outside and we had been there all night into the next day and night! I haven’t slept, I’m completely fucked and we have to do a gig and of course I’m coming down off the speed. I walk into the gig and Lemmy says ‘You’re looking a bit knackered Lips. Don’t worry, I’ve got just the thing for you.’ and he pulls out this little bag filled with black pills and says ‘These are called Black Bombers – take two.’ I say ‘You know what, after last night, I’ll just take one thank you.’ Half an hour later I’m on stage running around like the Tazmanian Devil. Holy fuck!
Karl Lean – Fan
Currently – IT Engineer
June 1984 and Motorhead touchdown for the start of their first ever Australian tour. We are a small crowd, gathered at the airport with hopes to catch a glimpse of the band as they arrive. Despite coming off a 20+ hour flight, as soon as Lemmy spots us he wanders over and says "Car park, ten minutes, see you there". What follows is an hour long session in a minivan, side door flung open, Lemmy sitting inside, talking, signing, laughing, sweating, drinking and not leaving until every last fan had his or her chance to meet and greet. Two days later after the opening gig of the tour has ended we are gathered outside at the side stage door when a roadie emerges, "Lemmy says come on in." Backstage band room, drink and talk and music for what seems like hours. Plenty of lads watching nervously as their girlfriends circle Lemmy. That tour lasted weeks, but felt like a lifetime. Lemmy spiking my drink backstage one night; another night he's playing pinball before a show as my mate yells "Use the force, Master Lemmy!" and gets a death stare in response.
Karl (and Sham) with Lemmy
Noel Wyatt - Roadie
Currently: Retired Cameraman
I went to his hotel to pick him up one day after the Reading festival as had asked me whilst we were in the backstage bar if I would give him a lift back to London. I got to his room at about 7am, Lemmy opened the door and said to me "Do you want some breakfast before we leave? "
“Ok” I said, “what did you have in mind?” He replied “Well, I've got Jack Daniels or I've got speed (amphetamine sulphate). What do you fancy?”
I had the Jack.
Gav Coulson – Fan
Currently: Oliver Dawson Guitarist
I only met Lemmy once. We had gone to see Motörhead at Leeds University and afterwards, we were waited outside the backstage door. It was pissing it down with rain and there were five of us and we waited for ages and eventually a guy popped his head out the door and said ‘What are you all doing out here?’ We said we were waiting to meet the band and he said ‘Come in’ and took us all backstage. It was brilliant but I have to be honest and say I was that deaf from the gig and it was difficult to have a conversation with anybody!
Ashley Head – Fan
Currently – CEO of Logistics Company
The summer of 2008 and Girlschool are recording their new album which will be a tribute to their original guitarist Kelly Johnson who passed away the year before. Several special guests are lined up to play and of course Lemmy is asked to contribute to which he readily agrees. The girls wrote and recorded the riff in London and asked Lemmy to add the vocals and bass (and triangle) in the LA studio. “Where are the words?” He asked down the phone line. “Er, well, it's like umm ummm um Don't Talk To Me, Lem” said rhythm guitarist Kim McCauliffe. “Guess I'll have to write the bloody words then” he replied. And he did, in about 5 minutes flat. What a Dude.
Ash with Lemmy after winning a 'Be a Motorhead Roadie for a Day' competition