I knew this day was coming, much like I know my own day is coming, for purely selfish reasons I hoped both those days would be after the end of January 2016. Because that was the day I would be at Hammersmith Odeon (or whatever it’s called this week) to celebrate 40 years of Motorhead along with Saxon and Girlschool, just like it used to be.
Today I can empathise how it must have felt for a generation of Elvis fans in ’77 to mourn the loss of a person they had never met. Today my eyes cry for a man I have seen, admired and followed for over 30 years but never met.
I wrote him a letter once, don’t know if he ever saw it.
This is not a sob story, I just wanted to share it.
A motorcycle trip to south America changed from its original plan to a three month tour of Mexico, I call my airline to change my flight home, I wanted the 29th Feb. but the idiots didn’t seem to think there was a 29th, after 3 calls I settled on 28th and rode back to Colorado and stayed with so friends in Denver. I discover my flight home is the same day Motorhead play in Denver, for 2 weeks I agonise as to whether to change my flight again. I call British-Bastard-Airways the compassion free airline but they just want more money out of me.
The weekend before I leave, my friends decide they want to clear out the basement where I’ve been staying to make a playroom for their 3 year old. So for 2 days we completely gut it, in the evening totally knackered we go through the boxes we’ve found, letters, concert ticket stubs, and photos that relate to 25 years of my stays in Denver, girls dated, bikes owned, gigs attended and life passing.
It was really quite depressing, I steer my life in this direction, I really haven’t changed in quarter of a centry. Looking back the pattern of girls, bikes, gigs and travel hadn’t changed and usually that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. But not that night, In the morning I decided I needed a Motorhead fix. So I change my flight, fuck it. I need to see my idols I’ve been following since the Bomber tour came to the Ipswich Gaumont. When I question my life style I go see Lemmy who has always stuck with his beliefs, never wavered to fashion, changes, succumb to the popular music of the day. A man of principles, passion, true to himself in his fans and his music. It is one thing to be defiant of authority by dressing unconventionally but it is something far more admirable to translate belief into action.
Attending a Motorhead concert reminds me I’ve made the right choices in life, for me anyway, its validation.
So the day of the show I head down to the venue in the afternoon just on the off chance that Lemmy is about, still never met him but been close. I discover the concert has sold out. Shit. That evening I score tickets off the touts it wasn’t that hard. And they were less than face value, not that they had a face value on them as they were red complimentary tickets. So now I can relax, we can go to the bar, drink before the gig, wearing my Motorhead t shirt of course. After a few beers some guy walks past and says Lemmy cancelled,
‘What did he say?. Someone asks,
‘He said Lemmy cancelled,’
‘ That’s blasphemies’ is the reply,
‘Yes it is, bloody blaspheme.’
So a little weary we head to the venue, walking down Colfax the infamous Denver street mentioned continually through Jack Karoacks’ ‘On The Road’ a street of stories I’m living a new one, ‘Noooo it can’t be cancelled, not after all this, not this gig. Inside I discover the blasphemer was telling the truth. For fucks sake, I just paid all that money to change my flight and then they cancel, first the optimistic denial occurs then I’m angry, I can laugh at the irony, you should never announce your intensions it can be the curse to the conclusion. Then as I stood there watching a support band, I got worried, is it an altitude thing? Lemmy wouldn’t cancel if it wasn’t serious, the tour has a day off tomorrow. I hope he’s ok. And once I’m over myself that thought occupies me head for the rest of the gig.
So anyway I watch Megadeth who are ok, been seeing them for 25 years too. There was more room for Dave’s ego on stage tonight, he had a chance to shine but he only just managed to glimmer.
I jump on the internet when I get back, ‘decided to take the night off’ I was a bit miffed. People by their tickets months in advance, change their shifts, book baby sitters, and look forward for a long time ‘decided to take a night off’ was not a very Motorhead type of thing to say, they are as loyal to their fans as the fans are to Motorhead. So, I supposed in a purely selfish way I was kind of relieved to discover they pulled out of the rest of the tour.
I’m not pissed off, I’ll see them again soon, but fuck, after all that agonising and then changing a flight and stupidly announcing it to my envious friends on FB only to discover after I got tickets that it was cancelled. Bloody hell. It’s funny really. I just thought I would share.
The one real truth in that badly Witten rant was this. When I question the way I steered my life, when I doubt my direction, my beliefs, my morals, when disillusionment is paramount. Then listen to Motorhead, I believe in Lemmy, fads came and went, glam, grunge, thrash, whatever. Lemmy never wavered, Motorheads ethics were cast in rock, in stone, and I know that I was living the life that was right for me. Idolised but not imitated, just validated with every album, every lyric, every track, every gig. I am Motorhead, Motorhead was me. What am I going to do now? I’m going to morn, then I’m going to live, live like there is no tomorrow. I never met my idol, may be for the best. My world is a sad place this morning. My life remains spectacular, lots of personalities are referred to as gods, Lemmy was mine, never met, always worshiped. I will continue without you but today outside the window is a world with less honesty, less conviction and one less icon. Lemmy you are irreplaceable and that for me and many others is tragic to the point of inconceivable.
The words of Phil Lynotts’ ‘Kings Call’ echo in my head, ‘I played his records all night and I got drunk all over again’
An extract for In search of Greener Grass 2012
So I park my bike in the sun to dry my pants that are hanging off of it. Sometimes it’s my life line, today it’s my washing line. I sit in the shade and put some Motorhead on my iPod and swear into my voice recorder. Motorhead is the perfect music when you’re fuming with attitude, filled with hate for the authoritative establishment and you’re ready to explode. I’m so ready to get on that boat and wave goodbye to Russia with one fifth of my hand.
On Iron Horse he flies
On Iron Horse he gladly dies
Iron Horse his wife
Iron Horse his life
Motorhead Iron Horse/Born to loose
An Excerpt for Different Natures 2015
I continue south towards the low cloud that covers San Francisco. I cross the red oxide bridge, the uprights disappearing into the mist, but it doesn’t stop me from taking photos of myself with them in the background, my jacket half unzipped and the ‘h’ of my Motorhead T-shirt visible beneath my bandana. It’s a brilliant shot. I ride on into the city. It’s quite exciting to be in a familiar town. I recognise street names, there is so much to look at, stimulation all around taking my attention from the road.
There are hundreds of hotels. Maybe I should have carried on and stayed here last night. Maybe I should stop now. Maybe I should actually make a fuckin’ decision. I opt for an internet café. In an email, my mum says I’ve won a £50 premium bond. I consider treating myself, but every day’s a treat. How could I distinguish the difference? The city dwellers are suited and fashion conscious. I’m not blending in at all. Not that a Motorhead T-shirt ever goes out of fashion.