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Motorhead's Lemmy Kilmister: Vampire of the Sunset Strip

October 20, 2009 3:26 PM ET

Lemmy Kilmister may be the most indestructible rocker alive. At 63 years old, he still spends nearly every day he's not on tour swilling bourbon at West Hollywood's legendary rocker hangout the Rainbow Bar & Grill — and his band still plays about 150 shows a year. Rolling Stone's Mark Binelli put in some quality time at the Rainbow (and Kilmister's nearby apartment, stocked with a mind-blowing array of WWII and Nazi memorabilia) for a profile of Motörhead's singer/bassist in our new issue.

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

"The first time I ever saw Motörhead was on the Blizzard of Ozz tour," Slash tells RS. "I swear to God, it was the loudest thing I ever heard. They EQ'd it in a way to rip the top of your fucking head off." Ozzy Osbourne recalls that tour too: "[Lemmy] had a plaid bag with three books an a notepad. No change of clothes. His fucking rider was seven bottles of bourbon, eight bottles of vodka, two bottles of orange juice, and that's fucking it!"

Unsurprisingly, Lemmy has taken a path that's very unlike other rockers. Acknowledging his unusual journey, Kilmister tells RS, "I mean, I missed out on human relationships. But looking at relationships that I've seen along the way, I don't think I've missed much." Kilmister has let rock & roll be his guide since he was a kid learning Buddy Holly records in Wales, and in our profile Kilmister recounts joining (and leaving) legendary psych-rock band Hawkwind, attempting to teach Sid Vicious how to play the bass and the beginnings of Motörhead, which he conceived as a blend of Hawkwind, the MC5 and Little Richard.

For Binelli's full story, pick up the new issue, on stands now. And check out Rolling Stone's Q&A with Kilmister from last year, when the legend was celebrating the release of his band's 20th album, Motörizer.

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

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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