Christmas Eve. I forego my ritualistic trip to Amoeba Records. It’s a tradition and the only time of the year I splurge completely on music and film.
But I got the Frank Ocean record, the Kendrick Lamar record and a cool 13th Floor Elevators compilation. I even found the Beat Documentary The Source (my last DVD before *sigh* going over to Blu-Ray). So instead I am home watching ‘A Christmas Story’ and writing about one of the last true rock n’ roll originals: Lemmy Kilmister.
It’s Lemmy Day of course, the 24th of December. On this day in 1945 in Stoke on Trent England, during a blast of cosmic turbulence, a savior was born. Sixteen years later, this man would witness the early Beatles at the Cavern Club, and there in the darkness of this dank, subterranean environment, would see the light and spend the rest of his life spreading the gospel of rock ‘n roll.
I ironically discovered Lemmy on a 24th day just like this, wandering around Kenmore Square in Boston during the mid-1980’s. I’d just scored myself a issue of the Dark Knight from Frank Miller and now entered the lair of ‘Nuggets’– a record store that had everything.
I snatched up some Schoolly D and was contemplating some more Funkadelic when I strayed by the “Rock” section and saw Motorhead: Ace of Spades. I had seen it before but Metalheads were pissing me off lately. Every article I would read had somebody with a problem with new wave or punk, and rap music was definitely out of the question.
But I had a rock jones and this album looked amazing. Who were these bad-asses with the High Plains Drifter-vibe? I turned to the album credits. Lemmy Limiter? Philthy Animal? I was sold, but I wasn’t prepared. I got home, put on the title track and was literally blown across the room. I had to pick that shit up and look at it again. What kind of fuckery was this? The last time this happened to me it was Robert Johnson strumming on his demon-tuned guitar. I slowly became afraid and happy all at the same time. Somewhere in the back of my head this is what I wanted from my rock n’ roll–punk speed and metal heaviness.
Unbeknownst to me, this wasn’t just another white boy I could use to display my metal savvy to my guitar-head, long-hair friends; this was a true master. Motorhead was Lemmy’s weapon of choice at this time, but this guy was an ocean. How are you gonna explain a band that’s Hawkwind and simultaneously sounds like a proto-grunge band on their way to Rush-Land in ’72? Who else packs a house with just as many mo-hawks as long-hairs? Who is bad enough to write a epic, metal homage for the godfathers of punk by spelling out their style and name?
Rock n’ roll is littered with dead rebels, unsung heroes and unworthy demigods, but Lemmy transcends all of that. A dual member of the Keith Richard’s School-of-the-Indestructible and the Union-of-Hard-Hat-lunch-box-rockers like Springsteen, Strummer and Watt; a rock God who’s seen it all, done most of it and can still be found chillin’ at the Rainbow playing video games and drinking among the mortals.
Anyone who claims to love rock n’ roll or picked up a guitar knows where this guy stands in the history of rock: a legend who personifies all that’s cool about rock n’ roll minus the corporate trappings. Lemmy adorns his well earned Coat of Arms, a leather-clad, hardcore, punk-rock superhero who bleeds metallic chords, worships at the house of Little Richard and still plays Eddie Cochran hymns with religious fervor.
God Bless you Lemmy, Happy Birthday and keep on rockin’ in the free world, preaching the gospel of good versus evil and reveling in all things dangerous.
Tomorrow belongs to Jesus, but today is Lemmy day.
Hail to the King Kilmister.