The late Ian Fraser Kilmister lived life as fast as Motörhead’s violently charging rock ’n’ roll. Of course, many readers will assume such a statement refers to the legendary bassist’s decadent reputation. After all, his appetite for drink, drugs, and sex (as chronicled in the 2010 documentary Lemmy) was insatiable and produced no shortage of outrageous tales (some false, but many quite true). But he also lived a fast life in terms of his art and creativity. As both a musician and actor, Lemmy was damn near everywhere. When he wasn’t leading one of the world’s most influential metal bands (who, it should be noted, dropped a posthumous covers compilation Under Cöver on September 1, 2017), he racked up an absurd number of side projects and guest spots onstage, in the studio, and on screen. Whether he was leading Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, and Dennis Thompson of the MC5 through a raspy blowout of their proto-punk jam “Sister Ann,” popping up in Boys Don’t Cry’s cheesy “I Wanna Be a Cowboy” video, busting retro-rockabilly with HeadCat, unleashing the vicious “Shake Your Blood” with Dave Grohl’s Probot project, actually joining The Damned for a spell… you name it, he did it.
Of course, all this action occurred after Lemmy had started Motörhead. Here’s the crazy thing: By the time he, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor recorded the band’s thunderous, game-changing debut in the summer of 1977, he had already been in the rock ’n’ roll game for a dozen years. Most folks know he helped pioneer chugging space rock and proto-punk as a shaggy member of the mighty Hawkwind, but he also served time in two fantastic British Invasion-era outfits. In addition to playing guitar and singing in Sam Gopal (a deeply moody psych-rock outfit who released the cult favorite Escalator in 1969), he lent his services to The Rockin Vickers, a beat group unloading manic R&B rave-ups much like the early Who and Kinks. (They whipped-up a searing version of Pete Townshend’s “It’s Alright” in 1966.) And if all that weren’t enough, young Lemmy actually shared a flat with bassist Noel Redding, who helped him land a gig as a Jimi Hendrix roadie in the downtime between Sam Gopal and Hawkwind.
Here’s to Lemmy—no human has ever embodied rock ’n’ roll abandon as passionately as you. Well, maybe Keith Richards. But as we all know, you were always a Beatles guy, one who just so happened to see the Fabs at the effin’ Cavern when you were 18. Insane!