Though Lemmy Kilmister will forever be identified with the raw, propulsive rhythms of hard rock he pioneered in Motörhead and Hawkwind, the “Ace of Spades” singer-bassist also dabbled in American roots music and country with one of his many side projects.
Lemmy, whose death on Monday stunned the rock community, originally joined forces with Slim Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats and Danny B. Harvey of 13 Cats in 2000 to form rockabilly trio the Head Cat. On the group’s 2006 album Fool’s Paradise, they trafficked primarily in loving renditions of Fifties rock and country tunes like Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Lloyd Price’s “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and Johnny Cash’s “Big River.”
The Head Cat plays it straight on the “Big River” cover, mimicking Cash’s signature train-like rhythm and keeping the arrangement minimal. Lemmy’s reverb-slathered voice, while lacking Cash’s rumbling low-end, still has an authoritative presence reminiscent of the Man in Black.
In 2011, the Head Cat released their sophomore album Walk the Walk… Talk the Talk with a couple of originals sprinkled in among versions of tunes by Mel Tillis, Chuck Berry and blues legend Robert Johnson.