My interview with Lemmy in February, 2005, almost did not happen.
The Motörhead frontman wasn’t feeling 100 percent, and his publicist wanted to postpone. But I was all primed for a major drinking session at his local boozer, the Rainbow, and I persuaded her that a half-dozen Jack & Cokes would be good for him. So Lemmy, ever the trooper, walked up the hill from his apartment, took a seat in the afternoon sun at a patio table, and tentatively nursed his cold with his favorite medicine.
Things started off a little awkwardly. Lemmy was congested and tired. Like anyone else in that situation, he probably preferred to be in bed. So it was my job to lift his spirits. I soon noticed that it was my spirits that were being lifted: I was outdrinking the old boy. I slowed down, he caught up and we ended up having a good time.
Some random tidbits:
When Lemmy turned 45 he realized that he would not die before he got old.
“If I can I’ll die on stage, or fucking some chick in a hotel … preferably just after orgasm, rather than before.”
Lemmy once had sex with a Thai transsexual.
Lemmy had about five women in his life, aged 18-25, whom he had on call.
As everyone knows, Jack & Coke was his poison. He never did heroin, and he never much liked cocaine.
“I’m not a rock star. If I am anything, I’m a celebrity, I suppose. I’m not a rock star because I don’t sell any records.”
“I’m fine with my gig. My gig is everything to me … I never stop being Lemmy, 24 hours a day … It’s not a job, it’s a life.”
Lemmy didn’t listen to much music at home, but he liked ABBA. Jimmy Reed was his favorite bluesman, also Lightning Hopkins and Memphis Slim. He tried to teach bass to Sid Vicious “and he had no aptitude for it whatsoever.”
Lemmy had two sons from two mothers. He had never met the elder one, who was put up for adoption. The boy’s birth mother tracked him down, and he put his head in his hands because she was a fat social worker wearing a poncho. She didn’t have the heart to tell him who his father was. The second son, Paul, is a producer in Los Angeles. They shared a few girlfriends. “But I never had his wife. I have to draw the line somewhere.”
His mother was 90 at the time of the interview. She was always supportive of his career choice. His father was a vicar, his stepfather an engineer. Money wasn’t tight during his childhood, but they had to be careful. “We never wanted for anything, even when it was my Mum and me and my Gran. We always had enough to eat … We had the first TV in the village. We did all right.”
Lemmy said he was “nowhere near” being a millionaire. His most lucrative songs were the four that Metallica covered on their 1998 album, Garage, Inc. He put all his money in the bank, and was averse to stocks and other investments.
His biggest expenditure was on Nazi and Axis powers memorabilia. Ozzy Osbourne gave him an SS dagger and some huge banners.
“Ozzy’s all right. I like Ozzy a lot. I like him a lot more than he thinks I like him.”
“I was born in ’45, the year it all ended. It’s just over my shoulder. It’s not ancient history to me, and I don’t see it as all the good English and Americans, and all bad Germans. It’s not true. There was a resistance in Germany that nobody was helping. They all got slaughtered.”
Lemmy was annoyed about the bombing of Dresden, when 30,000 civilians were killed in one night. “When they bombed us in 1940 and did Coventry and all that stuff, they didn’t break our spirit. They just made us more determined to fight. And that’s exactly what we did by bombing the Germans. They just rallied around Hitler all the fucking more. It didn’t do any good at all. They just burned down most of Europe’s great artworks and architecture and killed a lot of innocent people, basically.”
Hermann Goering was “the only one I admire at all.” He invented the Gestapo, set up a phone-tapping service that bugged all the embassies, led the Luftwaffe and bombed airfields. “His gesture (suicide the night before his planned execution) was fantastic (i.e. a big fuck-you).”
“Goering spoke (at his Nuremberg trial) for, what? Nine days? Fuckin’ unbelievable, and he remembered everything, and he took all the blame. While everyone else was going, ‘It was orders, it was the Fuehrer,’ Goering said, ‘It was me. You would have done the same thing.’”
Concerning Tony Blair, who was UK Prime minister at the time of the interview, “He’s a miserable cunt. Anybody who smiles that often, there has to be something wrong with them.”
“I hate all politicians, from Hitler to Stalin to Roosevelt to Chamberlain. I hate the fuckin’ lot of them. They’re all lying, thieving, groveling bastards. I can generalize about that. They are all, without doubt, sinuous, devious bastards.”
Lemmy would have been more inclined to invade Iran than Iraq, “and I wouldn’t have bothered with Afghanistan, really, unless I knew that Osama was there, and apparently he wasn’t.”
Lemmy considered himself a Monarchist. “I’ve lived in this republic here for the last 15 years and I don’t see anything to recommend it over monarchy, quite frankly … America hasn’t got the pageantry. I like a bit of a show, y’know? A bunch of guys in three-piece suits ain’t gonna do it for me.”
BTW, my tab at the Rainbow? Only $40, including tip and mozzarella sticks. I guess I didn’t get as wasted as I like to think I did.
(* apologies to Gay Talese)
NOTE: Unrelated to the above interview, my gossipy rock bio Strange Days: The Adventures of a Grumpy Rock ‘n’ Roll Journalist in Los Angeles is available here. For more info, go to strangedaysbook.com
Copyright © 2016 by Dean Goodman. PLEASE DO NOT CUT AND PASTE THE WHOLE THING