In the world of rock ‘n’ roll, certain figures shine brighter and louder than the rest. Brian May, the iconic guitarist, songwriter, and astrophysicist, was one of those luminaries. But today, we’re not here to discuss Brian May’s accolades; instead, we’ll delve into the man he once hailed as the original Hard Rock icon – the legendary Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead.
Brian May’s journey in the world of music commenced in 1963 when he was just a teenager hailing from Hampton Hill, Middlesex, England. After a few years of honing his craft and being part of various musical groups, he co-founded the iconic rock band Queen. Alongside his old friends, drummer Roger Taylor and vocalist Freddie Mercury, and later, bassist John Deacon, Queen’s classic lineup was complete.
Back in 1973, Queen’s self-titled debut album hinted at their potential as a Hard Rock band. However, throughout their career, the band displayed a voracious appetite for musical diversity. May’s own eclectic taste in music, which included a penchant for heavier groups, contributed to Queen’s unique sound.
Brian May’s connection to the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal led him to a momentous encounter with Lemmy Kilmister, the founder, bassist, and vocalist of Motörhead. In 2000, May joined Motörhead on stage at their 25th-anniversary concert at Brixton Academy in London, where they performed the classic track “Overkill.” Little did they know that this collaboration would become a cherished memory.
Tragically, in 2015, Lemmy passed away at the age of 70, leaving behind a void in the world of rock music. In his official tribute to the fallen legend, Brian May articulated his profound respect for Lemmy. He described Lemmy as a paradoxical figure, whose music was roaring and uncompromising, yet Lemmy himself was a pacifist and deep thinker.
May reminisced, “One of my dearest friends lived with Lemmy for 10 years. She always spoke of him as a tender man.” This contrast between Lemmy’s public persona and his private character only added to his mystique.
Motörhead’s music was a relentless sonic assault, characterized by Lemmy’s thunderous bass and his distinctive, throaty vocal growl. May recalled the overwhelming volume of Motörhead’s live performances, where the on-stage sound was raw and unfiltered. This was not the controlled sound of most bands but a visceral experience that assaulted the senses.
May marveled, “Lemmy’s bass was like being inside a giant pulverizing machine.” His bass playing, which often exceeded 200 notes per minute, created a unique and powerful sonic landscape. In the world of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Motörhead was unmatched.
In the same statement, Brian May also paid homage to the other members of Motörhead, including Eddie “Fast” Clarke, Phil “Animal” Taylor, Phil Campbell, and Wurzel. These musicians, alongside Lemmy, contributed to the band’s enduring legacy.
May’s own collaboration with Motörhead occurred when he was invited by guitarist Phil Campbell to play a guitar solo on the band’s final album, “Bad Magic,” released in 2015. Although they didn’t know it at the time, this would become Motörhead’s swan song. May’s solo on the track “The Devil” added a touch of his own magic to the band’s storied discography.
Motörhead’s 40-year career yielded 22 studio albums and an estimated 15 million records sold worldwide. While these numbers may not rival some of the industry’s giants, they are a testament to the band’s enduring influence and cult following. Lemmy Kilmister and Motörhead forever etched their mark on the annals of rock ‘n’ roll history.
As we reflect on the life and career of Lemmy Kilmister, we’re reminded of Brian May’s words: “We all come into this world as babies and mold ourselves into what we want to be. Lemmy – as a product of his own will, has to be the original mold of a Hard Rock Icon which defines the term. Lemmy lived his music and his persona within his music 100 per cent to the full.”
In the world of Hard Rock, Lemmy Kilmister remains an enduring icon, forever celebrated for his unwavering dedication to the genre. His legacy lives on, a testament to the enduring power of music that defies categorization.