By Steffan Chirazi
The words wouldn’t come.
I sat in suspension.
I laughed about a few things I knew, things which would’ve made him raise an eye-brow and crack a grin, and memories came and went in no order.
The time Phil Campbell and I were sent back to Brixton Academy post-gig to retrieve ‘an important thing’ Lemm had left behind in the dressing room (two sliced-white, cellophane-wrapped cheese sandwiches).
The time in ’89 when he reached up overhead in a bus closet after a 12 hour drive and retrieved, from behind a pile of towels, a plate of scallops and cheese-sauced potatoes before disappearing into the back lounge.
The time he gave me that pint of vodka and orange when I was 15 and he was 10 feet tall and indestructible. “Sit there, that’s the volume button!” he said, pushing me gently into the producer’s chair in front of a mixing desk and making them play me Another Perfect Day mixes.
The time in Dublin at Dalymount Park when he grabbed me in a headlock and my nose ended up squarely in his arm-pit; he was wearing a sleeveless shirt.
It was the finest of colognes, the scent of a lifestyle lived on his terms, and it’s scent never left me.
The time in Austin I wandered into the dressing room famished (yes there have been a few occasions when that actually happened!) and got a sandwich from the deli-tray, only to receive a lecture about my health (‘you’ve put some weight on since I first met you') which ended with the thought I could do worse than have some speed for a while before his arm shot forth, grabbed said-sandwich, and flung it against the wall. “You’ll thank me one day Steff!’ he said.
There are so many…so many...
I haven’t been able to fully read memorials, and I have only just been able to start playing the music that’s in my DNA (loud you’ll be please to know).
I remarked to my wife that the house looks different, rooms look different, the day feels odd, the light, the air all seems different.
Lemmy wasn’t going to go.
The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and somewhere Lemm is either playing a video game, or reading, or watching some Law & Order.
But the sun rose on the wrong side of this day, although I have to say that Lemm did it the right way for him. On his terms. He saw everything was in order around him and decided to leave. Someone had made the error of telling him, telling us, that he had a couple of months left, and now I think about, I can imagine Lemm chuckling at anyone giving him such an ‘order', knowing inside that he’d make the decision on his departure date given that the journey's imminent conclusion was already set.
He strode like a giant bear, with long fur and big teeth and mighty horns and huge claws, but his bark was always so, so much worse than his bite.
He was lovely you know.
A warm man deep down.
Honest to the core.
Perhaps even gentle, though do not mistake that for being weak, because he was as strong as a herd of wildebeest (as seen out of a Torquay hotel window). But he cared. About everyone. He cared about you even if you don’t know it. Unless you were a bastard or a liar or a sniveling two-faced creep, in which case you could fuck right off and die being boiled alive in a vat of electric eels.
He was a very funny man to (he doodled the greatest cartoons), Jesus, what a sense of humour. I’d tell people meeting him for the first time to be prepared for a battery of sarcasm, I’d even warn them to do their homework and watch a bit of Milligan, a smidgen of Python, know their Goons and listen to Carlin and Wright. Oh the one-liners. I remember one time, an enthusiastic fan was chatting with him at a bar (Lemm talked with everyone always) and Abba came on. The fan started insulting them and called them ‘crap’.
“When was the last time you wrote a song that millions of people could sing?” he replied, fast as a bullet, low-slung, clipped and supported with a small, hard stare. Yeah.
He loved America, really loved it, and LA was where his heart was. But funnily enough, he retained such essential, and indigenous, elements of his upbringing, his ‘Britishness’ I suppose. He was unfailingly polite, in fact I don’t think anything annoyed him more than rudeness, and his eye (and ear) was always tuned to British-like quirks. His love of Germany, and history, is well documented. I always saw him as one of the greatest historians I ever knew. His knowledge was breathtaking, and his overall gauge of humanity and history’s dance together was superlative.
Lemm also loved women. Take that as you wish, but I mean he loved women for who they were and what they bring to our male tables. He was raised by them remember, and thus his respect for them was whole and complete. It is important you know that, as it’s far too easy to focus on the sex and drugs without knowing the enormous good character and fortitude behind them…
…ah yes, the lifestyle.
Look, Lemm wrote the book. Wrote the book, read the book he wrote, enjoyed it, read it again and wrote it again for decades. More fool those who tried to keep up.
He loved speed, this is obviously no secret, and he loved bourbon/coke and vodka (not together). What made him so utterly remarkable is how he maintained a continual feed of both through thick, thin and the bit between. I never saw him wasted once. Never out of control. Oh I saw chaos around him, 12 hour bus rides where everyone else was going apeshit bananas on all sorts of powders, pills and booze, yet there he would be, a giant steel oil tanker, ploughing his way through everything, same speed, same appearance, stopping for no-one, doing what he was doing. We just took it for granted, but looking back, it was absolutely incredible. Baffling even. I remember a few times when he tried to cut right down on all of it, and bugger me, those times nearly killed him! Of course it slowly took his health, that doesn’t take a genius, but fuck anyone who doesn’t understand that Lemmy lived HIS life HIS way. Not yours. Not mine. His.
And that’s the essence of him. Living his life on his terms. The man walked off-stage in Berlin on December 11th 2015. Mind-blowing and very Lemm. He hadn’t been especially well as we know, but he knew nothing else than to play. The bus. The road. The fruit machines in his dressing room. The cheese plates and the Kinder eggs. The quiet. The visitors in every single city who always came to see him. His road family. How many millions of miles of asphalt has he covered? How many gallons of bourbon has he enjoyed? How many hours of stage-time has he enjoyed and delivered? You know one thing I loved in there last few years? We’d all been suggesting that perhaps the boots he loved wearing were not doing him the greatest service in terms of comfort anymore, that perhaps flat-soled shoes like some black sneakers might be the way forwards. He soon thereafter started sporting bright white creepers! Brilliant! And RIGHT!
Oh and let’s not forget his sound!!! His thunderous, incredible sound. A rhythm guitarist who played bass and turned it up to top notch, who added a curve and a spin to his music as it pulverized you, who fused the spirit and heart of rock’n’roll inside a devastatingly loud and ferocious vehicle. He always looked like a true viking at the mike, swaying and stomping, creating thunderous amounts of sheer volume with the help of those modified Marshall stacks. And those lyrics…he could write beautifully (both in terms of content and his actual physical handwriting) capturing the essence of love, war and having a laugh with supreme empathy. Whose going to do it now? Who can do it like him? No-one. No-one does it like Lemm does.
Lemmy stood for us all. Rockers, punks, hippies, skinheads, carnivores, vegans, alcoholics, teetotalers, druggies and straight-edgers, the normal, the ordinary, the sick, the poor, the rich, the thin, the fat, the smelly, the scented, the old, the young, the middle-agers. He stood for everyone who was decent and of strong moral character. Lemmy didn’t ‘do’ wankers. He didn’t spend time with tossers and bastards and if, somehow, he found one had snuck into his space, he quickly made sure they were dispensed with. In fact, his positivity is overwhelming and globally all-encompassing. Every memory is positive. Warm. Glowing. And everyone has a story, a real, genuine story, because Lemmy saw and spoke with everyone always. He was everyones. Politicians (who he despised) have tried for centuries to connect with everyone, and none of them did it like he did it, because Lemmy is real. Was real (FUCK!)…as real as real is.
This won’t sink in for a while.
I’ll still be hoping he likes what I’ve had to say when he reads it, but he won’t read it because he isn’t here and I have to deal with it. I have to understand that.
In time I will.
But for now here we are.
And we must celebrate his life.
Of course we are sad, of course we need to grieve... sorry Lemm, I know you don’t like the idea, but you cannot dictate that to me, I am sad and I will continue grieving in my way.
But please know that I am going to continue living my life on my terms. My way. My time. Because YOU gave me the strength, and belief, to do so.
Thanks Lemm, thanks so much.
I love ya,