Scott Ian: Lemmy's Death Leaves 'Hole That Will Never Be Filled'

"Even with Lemmy and his lifestyle ... there was an air of invincibility about the guy," says Anthrax guitarist. "He truly was a modern-day pirate"

Credit: Marc Broussely/Redferns/Getty, Neil Lupin/Redferns/Getty

Following the death of Motörhead singer-bassist Lemmy Kilmister, countless musicians, including Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich, Tom Morello and Ozzy Osbourne, have penned stirring, funny and heartfelt tributes to the rock icon. Having just finished an opening slot for Motörhead on their 40th anniversary tour earlier this year, Anthrax saw firsthand the intelligence and debauchery of Kilmister. Anthrax guitarist and founding member Scott Ian was heavily influenced by the group and shared his favorite memories of the rocker to Rolling Stone. 

Motörhead were arguably one of the most important bands in the history of rock music. They were an amazingly hard-working band. They were out there touring every single year. There's nobody else like that out there. It's hard to think about a world without Lemmy. It's been a constant in my life since 1980. It leaves a giant hole that will never be filled.

I was sitting on the couch watching Fargo the TV series, and I hadn't looked at my phone in a while. I get a text saying they were going to announce tomorrow that Lemmy had terminal cancer. What?! That was brutal. And I thought if anyone is going to beat terminal cancer, it would be Lem.

Then in the midst of an email chain with my manager and other guys in Anthrax, our manager Todd Singerman, wrote: "I just got a call. He passed two minutes ago." It was shocking. My heart just sank into my stomach. It's just something you never think you're going to hear, no matter what.

Even with Lemmy and his lifestyle — and he was 70 years old — there was an air of invincibility about the guy. He truly was a modern-day pirate. As much of a bummer as it is, I'm celebrating his life and the fact that he really did go out on top. He finished a tour two weeks ago playing headline shows at venues in Europe that were some of the biggest shows Motörhead had ever done.

Obviously those tumors were present over the last X amount of months and were wearing on him and making him feel worse. He didn't have to cancel a thing.

I was in a van with him a couple of years ago. Anthrax and Motörhead were both playing the Sweden Rock Festival. We pull over at a convenience store and Lemmy goes in and comes out with a big bottle of Jim Beam, a liter of Coke and three Hustler mags. He pours three-quarters of the Coke out onto the street and fills it with Jim Beam, and we get in the van and go.

He goes to hand me the bottle and I go, "No, Lem, I'm good right now." He goes, "Are you hungover?" "No, it's like 11:30 in the morning, and it's just too early for me." "OK, more for me." Over the next 30 minutes, he finished that liter of Jim Beam and Coke, then finished the rest of the Jim Beam that was in the bottle and he read his Hustler mags.

He stepped out of the van at the Sweden Rock Festival and the guy was straight as an arrow. It didn't make a dent. I've spent many moments like that with him over the years, but sitting in the van for 90 minutes bullshitting with him about whatever — all of a sudden he was just a dude looking at Hustler mag, laughing at the cartoons.