Metallica's Kirk Hammett: Lemmy Made It 'OK to Be an Outsider'

"It was ok to not feel like I had to conform to anything that I objected to in my teenage life," guitarist says of Motorhead's influence

Metallica's Kirk Hammett has written a poignant tribute to deceased Motorhead singer Lemmy Kilmister Credit: Eamonn McCabe/Redferns/Getty

Metallica's Kirk Hammett has written a touching tribute to hero and friend Lemmy Kilmister. Kilmister passed away Monday at the age of 70 from an "extremely aggressive cancer."

"Lemmy was the finest of gentlemen," Hammett tells Rolling Stone of the Motörhead frontman. The guitarist goes on to detail the sonic and visual influence of the metal band on Hammett as a kid.

"Back in 1979 when I was 16 years old, I heard Overkill for the first time," he recalls. "I thought it was the fastest thing I'd ever heard, and I declared to all my friends that Motörhead were the fastest band in the land." Metallica have since covered the album's title track in concert.

Beyond the influence of Motörhead's music on Hammett and his bandmates, the authentic look of Kilmister and Co. strongly affected him as a teenager. "When I had first seen pictures of what these guys looked like, I noticed a certain authenticity about them," he reflects. "I imagined they lived the way they looked and looked the way they lived.

"And I remember very distinctly having a realization that moment — I realized that it was OK to be an outsider and that it was OK to not feel like I had to conform to anything that I objected to in my teenage life because clearly the Motörhead guys in this picture looked like they didn't conform to anything at all and boy it sure looked and sounded like they were enjoying themselves as a result."

Hammett also mentions Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, Motörhead's former drummer, who passed away in November. "I have to thank Lemmy, Fast Eddie and also the recently departed Philthy Animal for the inspiration, spark and fire that I felt so strongly from that night in 1979."

Metallica released a joint statement on Facebook praising Lemmy, with artists like Rage Against the Machine, Alice Cooper and Flea also paying tribute to the metal icon.

Read Kirk Hammett's full statement below:

Lemmy was the finest of gentlemen.

Back in 1979 when I was 16 years old, I heard Overkill for the first time. I thought it was the fastest thing I'd ever heard, and I declared to all my friends that Motörhead were the fastest band in the land.

When I had first seen pictures of what these guys looked like, I noticed a certain authenticity about them. I imagined they lived the way they looked and looked the way they lived.

And I remember very distinctly having a realization that moment — I realized that it was OK to be an outsider and that it was OK to not feel like I had to conform to anything that I objected to in my teenage life because clearly the Motörhead guys in this picture looked like they didn't conform to anything at all and boy it sure looked and sounded like they were enjoying themselves as a result.

So I got a lot from that pic and that massive sound and that attitude.

And I have to thank Lemmy, Fast Eddie and also the recently departed Philthy Animal for the inspiration, spark and fire that I felt so strongly from that night in 1979.

That inspiration will always be there with me and may the music of Motörhead live on!