Marlboro Reds and Immortality 

Deconstructing Motörhead's Mythical Mouthpiece

MOTÖRHEAD Not pictured: God.

MOTÖRHEAD Not pictured: God.

LEMMY KILMISTER is not God. There's no reason for anyone to crumple to the man's boots and worship the Motörhead frontman like some towering golden idol. Proof of Lemmy's humanity can be seen in the new documentary Lemmy, as the opening scene shows a shirtless Lemmy sitting in his cluttered apartment playing videogames and making french fries. The rest of the film depicts a loveable old man that loves rock and roll, whiskey cokes, and one-armed bandits.

What sets Lemmy apart from all the other still-breathing music legends, and what makes him such a monstrous figure in rock and roll, is that he has never made a mockery of his former self. No reality television or egotistical spouting—like he was the man who invented wearing leather pants—just the same attitude and unwavering rock and roll style for the entirety of his career.

"I always figured if you have a good idea stick with it," he explains over the phone. "If it works, don't fix it, right? I know who I am. If I gave up, then all those assholes that said [Motörhead] would last a year and be gone would be somehow right."

When Lemmy—who was already a seasoned musician (having lodged stints in the Rockin' Vickers and Hawkwind)—formed Motörhead in 1975, the band wasn't particularly well received. "We had the worst publicity when we started. We got voted in a special position in Sound Magazine [as] 'the Best Worst Band in the World.' We played support for Blue Öyster Cult and we were crap so they let us have it."

Displaying their "natural fuck-you-ness," Motörhead pressed on and eventually the public caught up with the band's unflinching and authentic sound. While neither could totally claim ownership of the trio, both metal and punk scenes revered the band and their music—which, until that point, was an unheard of feat. "We were the only long-hair band that the punks would go and see in London. We used to get half-and-half crowds. There would be a couple of scraps, but I used to tell them from the stage, 'Stop fighting, you're in the same place listening to the same thing! What the fuck's the matter with you?'"

The consistency and relevancy of the band is equally as surprising. Since 1975's On Parole, Motörhead (in its various incarnations) has released a studio album at least every three years, not including supplementary live albums and various other collections. But for Lemmy, it's just his job and his passion. "If you're doing a thing that you love, you're very lucky. Most people have to do a job they fuckin' despise every day, all their life. I'm suitably grateful. So I figure the least [I] could do was get [my music] out there."

The band's latest opus and 21st studio album The Wörld Is Yours, gives longtime fans everything they could, and rightfully should, expect from an act of such consistency. There is the obligatory pummeling, double kick-driven metal crushers, plus the straight-ahead, traditional rock and rollers. "What you see is what you get with us," Lemmy candidly explains. "It's not gonna be technologically amazing, and it's not gonna be fantastically studio clever, but it's certainly gonna move your ass."

For all the decorum and swagger, at the root of Lemmy is a simple man (before he kicks ass and takes names, his boots go on one at a time). Content to live out the rest of his days without regret, his character is a stark contrast to the idyllic rock star we've come to expect. If anything, God probably wishes he could be Lemmy.

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