METAL BLOG, Vol. 8 - by Steff Chirazi
Photos by Pep Bonet
I have only recently started emerging from the fog of it all.
We all lost Lemmy.
You lost a hero and a friend.
I lost a dear old friend, a hero, a major influence and a role model. He taught me that my lifestyle, that of living and working within my own hours, was possible, that I just needed courage and a fierce dedication to my work. It was hard.
It is hard.
I think I’m still in some form of denial, and that’s OK, perhaps it’s how we cope with these things.
It took me a long time to be able to listen to Motörhead, but when it hit me, the floodgates opened, a wall was sent crashing down and I was able to access my emotions (Read here)…
…Lemm’s service at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetary in Hollywood was poignant, hopefully warm and a good tribute to him.
The days prior had been weird…tough…strange and unreal really. I’d last seen Lemm at his birthday event in LA, popping quickly by the Rainbow to give him a couple of books, and he had indeed seemed tired and not himself, yet I’d thought not much of it more than simple fatigue after a year of touring. He’d just helped crush Berlin a couple of days prior. I’d have been tired and I’m nearly 49, never mind a few days away from 70…
…the speeches were great, Paul’s (Inder Kilmister, Lemmy’s son) particularly striking, and it was obviously wonderful to see the cream of Lemm’s peers out in force to pay tribute. But it was when the crew got up to speak that I felt the hard shivers down my spine. They’re the ones who were in the trenches day in day out, the ones Lemm loved like brothers. Some simply couldn’t speak, loyal true blues like Tim Butcher and Eddie Rocha, which was wholly understandable, but when the likes of Roger and Ian shared their inner thoughts, well, it was emotional to say the least. Great people, all of them…
…I wanted to make sure people knew how much of a wordsmith Lemm was, besides always being a consistently supportive friend and presence in my life, and chose to read two Spike Milligan poems out. They probably made no sense (or nonsense!) to all but a few, however I know he’d have appreciated the gesture given the occasion. The service generally seemed to go by in an odd time signature…drifting in a hyper-space almost…I found that I kept looking at the flower cross with Lemmy in the middle, and then down at his boots.
It just seemed so odd.
He was going to outlast us all.
The urn was magnificent, a chap called Pete Saari creating one of Lemm’s signature hats, but none of us properly gauged the contents. How could we? And Lemm had to have the last word didn’t he? The mighty stack had to deliver what was always his final word, and far from clearing the house as it did in venues worldwide, everyone to a person simply froze and stared. It was the precise reverse of a moment’s silence being respected on the spot with no pre-planning, a wonderful conclusion to this most bitter-sweet of occasions. I think we all did him proud, and I know he’d have approved of the JD shots heading into the place itself.
That night at The Rainbow I got overwhelmed.
Having spent the hour prior to my late arrival attempting to get into my hotel room 20 minutes away (something eventually achieved via an engineer’s crowbar and my flying boot!) I was never going to catch up to the intake going down. I looked at the huge Lemmy mural on the patio wall, I looked at everyone crammed into every corner of the building, drinking and sharing memories, and I looked over in Lemm’s corner where Cheryl (his girlfriend) sat with Ian (Lemm’s road assistant) trying to keep her composure. She was doing very well all-told.
It started to get weird for me. I don’t know, I think the weight of it all was closing in, and coupled with the sheer volume of people, I decided to make my way, hugging a few friends and rockers as I left.
I walked with good friend and photographer Pep Bonet, and as we sat having a late night bite, I reflected on how Hollywood, how the Sunset Strip, would never be the same again. I looked at the Pink Dot, a 24hour grocery store that delivers and a favorite of Lemm’s for years after he first moved in the early ‘90s, and realized that both the Dot and Gil Turner’s Liquor store at the other end of the strip had lost an irreplaceable customer.
It’s different now.
Three things I always knew.
The sun rises in the East, sets in the West and Lemm’s around somewhere having a smoke, having a drink, reading, playing a gig or enjoying some company. Always. Perhaps I’ll wait a few more months before fully processing that three has become two…
…I was driving back with Pep from a get-together with Ulrike (UDR chief) in Santa Monica the night after the service. It had been good to get together and slowly start the sorting process we were all trying to achieve, and I had started to feel a little more normal. I turned my phone back on and immediately saw two texts from two close friend.
David Bowie :-(
David Bowie RIP :-(
I stared in total, and utter, disbelief.
This was an artist whose music had provided many soundtracks in my life, most notably underscoring my childhood from 8 to 14, when my Dad would bring all these wonderful albums home and Bowie’s catalogue got pride of place. He would change the stylus on the turntable when playing these albums, and beneath his writing desk was a Bowie poster. Low, Heroes and Lodger were of particular prominence, and I remember gazing at the sleeves for Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. My Mum, who hated housework, would sing Bowie songs loudly whilst the stereo played and suddenly her least favorite task was a joy two hours long. And I would look at the sky, at planes, and dream about traveling as “Speed Of Life” or “Red Money” played. Slowly lives changed and people changed, stories for another blog I think, but the music was a constant escape.
Later, as I spread my youthful writing wings and found myself living in America and traveling all over, I went to Berlin in early ’89. I was there to do a piece on Kreator for US rock mag RIP, and took the opportunity to load up a camera with 1600 black and white film, bring a few spares and walk around near Hansa Studios, walk the streets of Berlin and try to invoke the aura of that era with some black and white photography. It was probably shite, I can’t remember, but I do remember doing it with my blue plastic Sony Walkman playing Low and Heroes cassettes.
Soon thereafter I interviewed Bowie in LA, and it was an incredible experience, one which I remember left me in the back of a stretch limo afterwards getting a ride back to the airport bursting to share my excitement yet with no-one close by. I interviewed him again in 2000, another tremendous time.Yeah. I interviewed Bowie twice. Incredible really given how few interviews he ended up doing by the time I was on the scene.
Lemmy and Bowie are so different, yet they share some very firm characteristics. Both were fiercely committed to their own lives and pursuits. Both were enormous innovators. Both made many happy. Both represented lifestyles that were unique yet pure, expressions which hurt no-one and invigorated tribes worldwide. And both are absolutely irreplaceable.
Thankfully, they did leave us with a plethora of great music and creative energy to not only keep alive, but enjoy and pass on to anyone we care about. Of course honestly, I think I’m still waiting for one of Lemm’s emails to appear, the ones which needed all sorts of decoding in order to get to a message (“Yes OK Steff!”) that had no subject line or copied subject and had arrived after I’d sent him three on various matters.
So sorry, got to go as I need to check that email before I go to bed. It’s gonna be a few more months before I stop doing so.