Lemmy: a life in quotes

From acoustically enhanced pizza to his adoration of hotels and disdain for celibacy, here’s the late metal star’s life in quotes, courtesy of Rock’s Backpages

Lemmy: Photograph: Karen Petersen / Everett Collection / Rex Features

The School for the Dancing Arts and Education Tring, Hertfordshire, mmmmm! Wonderful. Wonderful. All ballet dancers come down to get a bit of rough. Beautiful women, voluptuous, long legs – beautiful naked women pirouetting round the room, with shawls hanging off the ceiling … Great stuff. But you can’t do it nowadays; you can’t get the staff. And you don’t seem to be able to get the shawls either.

To Mat Snow, Q, March 1991

Being fired from Hawkwind for drugs is a bit like being pushed off the Empire State Building for liking heights, you know?

To Joel McIver, Record Collector, 1999

You can’t keep guys faithful. If people want to get married and then run around, I think that’s dishonest. If you’re going to get married, get fucking married and that’s it. I never saw a chick that could stop me looking at all the others, so I didn’t.

To Stephen Dalton, the Times, 2007

I suppose I was about 10 when I had my first wet dream … first nocturnal emission. Spelt with an ‘o’, – omission – there was nobody with me, see?

To Sylvie Simmons, Kerrrang!, 2006

If you can give the kids a good time then that’s all it’s for. Forget art and all that – that’s bullshit. If you can send that shiver down a kid’s back then that’s what it’s all about. All else is bullshit. That’s what rock’n’roll was for in the first place and as far as I’m concerned that’s what it’s still about. I’m trying to give them that feeling I felt the first time I heard All Shook Up or Good Golly Miss Molly. I just want to send that shiver up their back because it’s the best thing I ever felt. It’s better than screwing.

To Chris Salewicz, NME, 1979

I didn’t know what to call the band at first, it was all done in a bit of a hurry. Motorhead was the last song I wrote with Hawkwind, so we thought, ‘Why not? Let’s use that.’ If you sit around thinking about it, you end up with silly names like Granny Tangerine’s Prescription. So I thought, Motorhead will do – it’s a single word, it’s easy to remember, it’s also the slang name in America for a speed-freak … what can I say, straight from a sulphate bust?

To Geoff Barton, Sounds, 1975

I like hotels. They give you clean sheets. They bring you your meals, and then they take that dirty shit away and wash it. Wonderful! I don’t let them in the room to clean it up. I make my own bed. I don’t want them to fuck with my stuff. They take things away that you want to keep. I mean, I’ve got a pizza in that second drawer down there that I bought the first night I was here, you know, because they only sell you the big ones, so I eat a pizza for three days, and it’s great. It’s an acquired taste, you know? I think it’s the sound quality in there. We discovered in Hawkwind that sound can affect things. You can shake things to bits with sound, so if you build a pyramid it keeps everything in sharp and shit, so I just put the pizza in the drawer there – it’s acoustically enhanced pizza.

To Christine Natanael, Powerline, 1989

[My ears] sound like a bloody fire engine, never mind the ringing. They SCREAM! I’ve always enjoyed damaging my body, but it’s usually been connected with the most absolutely fantastic cerebral trips.

To Kris Needs, ZigZag, 1980

We wanna be like Status Quo and go on forever. Chuck Berry never changed. Little Richard never changed. I’d rather be like that and stick to a formula we’re happy with.

To Garry Bushell, Sounds, 1980

I don’t eat vegetables. I eat potatoes and green beans and that’s it. I don’t care if you eat 200 artichokes, you still won’t last through a tour. Mushy peas, I like … Brussels sprouts, foul. I won’t eat anything with onions in whatsoever, I hate them – me and Ringo Starr have that in common.

To John Hinds, the Observer, 2010

Rock’n’roll sounded like music from another planet. The first time around, we had people like Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis – all them people. And they were gone within two years. Chuck Berry was in jail. Jerry Lee’s career had been destroyed by the British press. Elvis was in the fucking army.” He then ponders the early 60s and offers his summation: “And then we got Bobby Rydell and all them cunts. It took us a couple of years to get rid of them, then the Beatles showed up. That was all right.

To Michael Hann, the Guardian, 2015

In your twenties, you think you are immortal. In your thirties, you hope you are immortal. In your forties, you just pray it doesn’t hurt too much, and by the time you reach my age, you become convinced that, well, it could be just around the corner. Do I think about death a lot? It’s difficult not to when you’re 65, son.

To Nick Duerden, the Independent, 2010

You knew the punks were going to be a big thing because they told you they were. Rat Scabies came up behind me in Dingwalls, this terrible urchin with awful red hair, spots all over him. He said, “Oi, you’re Lemmy aren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘You think you’re a rock star or something?’ I said, ‘Well if there’s going to be one, it might as well be me.’ He said, ‘Fair enough, I’ll buy you a drink.’ We’ve been friends ever since.

To Ben Graham, the Quietus, 2010

I was 13 and living in Benllech and I knew this guy called Tom who had a prosthetic arm. One night we sneaked into this Girl Guides camp and, you know, started getting down to business. So there I am bathing in the soft afterglow in some girl’s tent when, all of a sudden, I hear ‘Whack! Ow! Whack! Ow!’. I thought, ‘what the bloody hell is that’? and looked out to see Tom running naked down the road with this Guide mistress belting him over the head with his own false arm.

To Nathan Bevan, Wales Online, 2007

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