Brian Arsenault Takes On: The Death of Lemmy

By Brian Arsenault

So Lemmy’s dead at 70 and Motorhead is no more. Not really. Can’t be. The band’s drummer confirmed today that Metalhead won’t continue. Not without him.


Not really my favorite music, but what a figurehead Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmaster was for heavy metal. Singing into that mic raised above his head. Just pounding that bass. Like was said about that painting of Kramer on Seinfeld. It repelled in some ways but compelled you to look in others. And listen.

I remember being in Italy a few years ago and seeing Motorhead posters all over the place. In Venice, In Rome. At the time I didn’t even realize they were still together and didn’t imagine they were a big time concert band. But they were. Over there. More on the margins here.

In the States, we’re always pushing everything and everybody aside for the next big thing. Not saying they don’t do that in Europe, but they also maintain an affection for bands long after the group’s media moment.

There’s a great passage in the marvelous film “Ship of Fools” when the German (what the hell was he, a ship’s officer, a valet? Memory fades.) says to the used up character played by Vivian Leigh (typecasting? I hope not, damn, I loved her but I know she was pursued by demons.) that Europeans don’t pay as much attention to age as Americans. God, that seems so much truer today, at least about Americans.

So bands that have faded here can have big followings over there and still fill big arenas. Maybe the irony is that they aren’t forgotten here, at least by the generation that came up with them. It shows whenever they get a performance. The media has just long moved on and will only cover it as a curiosity. A shame.

There are still some musical treasures who are hardly noticed any more.

Jackson Browne, Todd Rutledge, Tom Rush even. A lot more. See them before they’re gone.

Some, like CS&N, have enough star power to stay “relevant.”( Don’t you hate that word.) But most have faded into “classic” radio stations and have 29 year old twit TV morning broadcast bores raise their eyebrows at the mention of such old school “acts.” Oh, my mother thought they were great, (sly smile).
That’s what Lemmy’s passing has me musing on this morning. That and regretting one of the great characters of rock has passed on. Hell, Lemmy didn’t pass. He died. He’s dead. He wouldn’t have it any other way or use a damn euphemism.

It’s my generation. May not be the greatest generation. But it’s mine. And it’s being torn down piece by piece.

So long, Lemmy. This was all the tribute I could give you.

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To read more reviews, essays and columns by Brian Arsenault click HERE.


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