Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister on Life as Jimi Hendrix's Roadie

March 25, 2010 12:03 PM ET

Before he became the legendary singer/bassist of Motörhead, Lemmy Kilmister logged time as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix in the late Sixties, prepping his guitars for his explosive performances — and picking up the bits of his destroyed stomp-boxes post-show. In honor of our latest issue chronicling Hendrix's last days and lost recordings, we caught up with Kilmister at SXSW, where he was promoting the documentary Lemmy, for a look back at his time with the guitar legend. Plus, watch his interview — smokes and drinks included — above.

"I was sleeping on [Jimi Hendrix's roadie] Neville Chester's floor — he was sharing a flat with Noel Redding, so whenever they needed an extra pair of hands I was right there. I didn't get the job for any talent or anything. But I did see Jimi play a lot. Twice a night for about three months. I'd seen him play backstage too. He had this old Epiphone guitar — it was a 12-string, strung as a six string — and he used to stand up on a chair backstage and play it. Why he stood up on the chair, I don't know.

Experience Jimi Hendrix' life in photos.

"When he performed, he was magic. You would watch him and space and time would stop. After he played, we would have to repair his fuzzboxes because he'd just stomp all over them. And they'd go into bits all over the stage, and you'd have to go fine the bits and put them back together. Fucking murder. He was supposed to be a showman but I think he eventually got sick of it, and when people moaned at him, he'd go into this kind of imitation Jimi Hendrix routing, you know? It wasn't convincing. That was a shame.

"But Jimi was a really nice guy. And very courteous. If a woman came into the room, he'd shoot to his feet and get a chair out for her. He was old fashioned like that. Good manners don't cost nothing."

Go backstage with Motörhead on the band's 2008 European tour.

Reporting by Steve Appleford.

Related Stories:
Q&A: Lemmy Kilmister
Inside Hendrix's Last Days and Lost Music

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »