In 1982, I was all about Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath. But a few of my friends told me that I reminded them of someone else. They showed me a picture of Lemmy Kilmister, front man and bassist for speed-metal band, Motörhead. The thing is, at that moment, by sheer coincidence, I happened to be wearing the same clothes as Lemmy was in that picture, from the concert tee to the M-60 bullet belt. We even had on the same super dark black tear drop aviator sunglasses. How weird is that?
I thought his name was a joke. “Let me kill, mister”. But no, it seems that he got that name when he was a roadie for Jimmy Hendrix and he kept asking people to “lemmy a fiver”.
Once I had one of Motörhead’s albums, Ozzy took a back seat. Lemmy had a voice like no one else, a horrible rasping growl with a thick Staffordshire accent. There wasn’t nothing pretty or soft about this guy! Motörhead became my favorite band forever ever since.
The first time I saw them live was 1988 in Dallas. Slayer and Overkill opened the show, and one point they had to stop it because someone threw a chair at the drummer on stage. They were all about pyrotechnics and, I don’t know, trying to seem badder than they were. They opened their show where they suddenly appear on stage in an explosion of flame. Then between sets while we’re waiting for the headline act, we see Lemmy walk in through a stage door and saunter down to the stage like it’s no big deal. As soon as everyone noticed those distinctive 19th century British muttonchops, the crowd went crazy. It was a savage mosh pit from then. Crazy show!
This is how I was introduced to the band, with guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke (left) and drummer, Phil “the animal” [Philthy Animal] Taylor (right). Back then, almost no American knew who Motörhead was. Since then, they’ve become the top metal band in the world.
Lemmy was also an outspoken atheist, and wrote a lot of songs attacking religion.
My image is of agony, my servants rape the land
Obsequious and arrogant, clandestine and vain
Two thousands years of misery, of torture in my name
Hypocrisy made paramount, paranoia the law
My name is called religion, sadistic, sacred whore.
I twist the truth, I rule the world, my crown is called deceit
I am the emperor of lies, you grovel at my feet
I rob you and I slaughter you, your downfall is my gain
And still you play the sycophant, and revel in your pain
And all my promises are lies, all my love is hate
I am the politician, and I decide your fate
Other irreligious songs include ‘Bad Religion’ and ‘God was never on your side’.
A couple years ago, I took my two metal-head boys to see Motörhead, not just in the front row, but in the mosh pit. I’m proud to say that the only injury I sustained there, the only one I felt the next day, came from one of my own sons.
At that concert, one of my buddies promised me that he would introduce me to Lemmy. But he bailed. I tried to meet Lemmy at another show after that, but his health was fading, and he cancelled that show after we were already there. A year or so later, I heard that another show is imminent and I bought the last three tickets. Sadly that show was cancelled too. Ultimately I pleaded with the Reason Rally committee that they should have Motörhead headline like Bad Religion did last time. I knew he was now 70 years old with a growing list of health problems, but having Motörhead on stage on the national mall with tens of thousands of atheists would have been epic.
And now my favorite Motörhead song of all time becomes relevant.