Lemmy Kilmister's Wildest Escapades: 15 Insane Tales - Rolling Stone
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Lemmy Kilmister’s Wildest Escapades: 15 Insane Tales From a Legendary Life

Some of the most unbelievable stories from Motörhead’s hard-living rock pioneer

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

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“I can’t say I was really that surprised when the doctor told me I needed a defibrillator inserted in my chest,” Lemmy Kilmister told Revolver in 2013. “When you’ve lived the life that I have, you should always expect something like that to crop up. I was not a good boy. I’ve had too much fun.”

Gambling is for fools, but that’s the way he liked it: The late Motörhead frontman was always willing to deal with the effects of an extreme lifestyle if it meant living his way. He did just that until he became too ill to party like a rock star, and even then continued making music and playing shows nearly right up until the end. Here are 15 of Lemmy’s wildest, strangest and most fascinating experiences, most of which he experienced between the Sixties and Nineties — the time when the Motörhead frontman seemed unstoppable and invincible.

Lemmy; WIldest Moments


Alien Encounter

While in one of his early Sixties ensembles, the Rocking Vicars, Lemmy hadn't discovered the thrills of self-indulgence – but that didn't stop him from having a few out-of-this-world experiences. "In 1966 we were coming back over the Yorkshire Moors which, incidentally, was before I even drank beer, so it couldn't have been some acid flashback," he told Inked. "This thing came over the horizon and stopped dead in the middle of the sky. Then it went from a standstill to top speed, immediately. We don't even have aircraft that do that now, never mind then. So that was pretty eye-opening for me."

Hendrix; Lemmy; Wildest Moments

UNITED KINGDOM - FEBRUARY 24: Photo of Jimi HENDRIX; performing live onstage David Redfern Premium Collection (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

David Redfern/Getty

Lessons From Hendrix

In his pre-Hawkwind days, Lemmy cut his teeth as part of the road crew for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Jimi taught me how to find drugs in the most unlikely places because that was part of my job for him," Lemmy told Revolver. "That's how I learned to function on five hits of acid. But I also learned about theatrics and performing. Jimi was so effortlessly cool and he would move like an elegant spider. He was always interested in the crowd. He made very bad jokes because he was so out of his mind. People couldn't figure out what he was talking about by the time he was finished. But he was certainly the best guitar player you'll ever see, probably ever."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

English bassist and singer Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister, of space rock group Hawkwind, 10th May1974. In the background is drummer Simon King. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

A Teaspoon of Sugar

In 1969, before Lemmy joined Hawkwind, a friend convinced his nurse girlfriend to sneak them some amphetamine sulfate from the dispensary where she worked. She accidentally brought home a jar of atropine sulfate. Lemmy did a teaspoon full, which he said was "200 times the overdose," and then everyone "went berserk." In his memoir White Line Fever he recalled talking to a TV held under his arm, then passing out and waking up in the hospital. "If we got you in another hour you would have been dead," the doctor told him. Even after being treated, he had sporadic hallucinations for two weeks and recalled, "sitting, reading a book, and I'd turn to page 42 – but there was no book."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Hawkwind, group portrait, circa 1973, L-R Nik Turner, Dik Mik, Del Dettmar, Simon King, Dave Brock, Lemmy. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

“Noises in E”

Lemmy auditioned for space-rock band Hawkwind in August 1971, hoping to land a slot as their second guitarist. During an open-air concert at Powis Square in Notting Hill Gate, their bassist didn't show up, so keyboardist Dik Mik, who liked to score speed with Lemmy, suggested Lemmy play bass. "I'd never played bass in my life!" Lemmy said in his memoir. After joining Hawkwind onstage for the show, vocalist and sax player Nik Turner told him, "Make some noises in E. This is called 'You Shouldn't Do That.'" Lemmy passed the audition and spent the next four years playing bass with the band.

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Gijsbert Hanekroot/Getty

Greasy Truckers Party Live

After three days spent taking Dexedrine with Dik Mik, Lemmy and his bandmate took Mandrax, a depressant, to lessen the intensity of the high. But Lemmy got bored, so he dropped acid and mescaline, then took more Mandrax. Dik Mak drove to the venue, where they pair partook in cocaine and eight Black Beauties (uppers) each. "Fuckin' hell, Mik, I can't move," Lemmy said. "Can you?" As he explained in his book, the band's roadies helped them onstage for the show, which was taped for the Greasy Truckers Party live album "That was one of the best gigs we ever taped," Lemmy enthused. "The jamming between me and [leader Dave] Brock was great. We got 'Silver Machine,' our only hit – and Number Two at that – from that gig!"

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Michael Putland/Getty

Pilled by Death

Lemmy and a friend were in a car splitting up 100 blue pills – a mixture of speed and downers – when a police cruiser pulled up to them. The tweakers stuffed the pills into their mouths to get rid of the evidence, and the cops were unable to find any contraband. That night, when Lemmy fell asleep, his heart rate and breathing slowed precipitously. "It looked like I had stopped breathing although I hadn't," he said in White Line Fever. "I was lying there with both eyes open [and] having kind of a hard time speaking." At least two people with him thought had died until they figured out he was still breathing.

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

CIRCA 1973: (L-R) Nik Turner, Stacia, Alan Powell (?), Simon House, Simon King, Dave Brock, and Lemmy Kilmister of the space rock band "Hawkwind" pose for a portrait in circa 1973. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Booted From “the Most Cosmic Band in the World”

In May 1975, Lemmy was busted at the Toronto border with a gram of amphetamine sulfate down his pants. He spent a night in jail and then received a combination of good and bad news. "The police charged me for cocaine and I really had amphetamines," said Lemmy. "It was a wrongful charge so they had to let me go." However, even though he returned to Hawkwind the next day, the band kicked him out after their next show. "If I was busted for acid, everything would have been fine," he said. "But they were all about the psychedelic experience. The most cosmic band in the world fired me for getting busted with the wrong kinds of drugs!"

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

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Enter “Philthy Animal”

When Lemmy first met Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor in the summer of 1975, he never imagined the stoner would wind up in his new band, Motörhead. "I was with the Hell's Angels at the time, and he used to come and score dope at our house," Lemmy told Revolver. "Then he'd light up and pass out and we'd wake him up in the morning and send him home. He was always telling us he was a drummer, but we never took him seriously." When the drummer Lemmy originally hired didn't vibe with the band in the studio, Lemmy reached out to Taylor. "Phil said, 'Sure, I'll fuckin' come down and do it for you.' We overdubbed him on our first album except one track. He proved to be the maniac we needed."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 01: Photo of LEMMY and MOTORHEAD; Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister performing on stage at the Electric Circus (Photo by Paul Welsh/Redferns)

Paul Welsh/Getty

Spit Take

There was a period in the late Seventies when audiences at punk rock shows in England showed their appreciation by spitting at the bands onstage, or "gobbing." Motörhead, a favorite band of the punkers, were sometimes on the receiving end of phlegm showers. "I never liked it, but we accepted we couldn't stop it," Lemmy told Inked. "One time I saw a guy spit a big green thing on my arm and I borrowed a line from Winston Churchill. I pulled it off my arm and rubbed it in my hair and said, 'See that? Tonight I'll have a shower and I'll be clean, but tomorrow you'll still be a stinking asshole.'"

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

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Public Display of Affection

"One cool thing happened in the Seventies when a chick just climbed up [onstage] and blew me," Lemmy told Inked. "I was singing — well, I couldn't stop, could I?"

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 01: Photo of LEMMY and MOTORHEAD; Lemmy after the bomb, (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

Fin Costello/Getty

Head to Head

Shortly before beginning rehearsals for the landmark 1980 Motörhead album Ace of Spades, Lemmy collapsed backstage after a show at Stafford Bingley Hall and had to be revived for the encore. In his memoir, he says he told the press that he was exhausted from receiving three blowjobs earlier that afternoon. "That was true, actually," he said. "There were chicks all over the place, and there was this really cute Indian bird — she was two of them."


Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, portrait, 1982. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Michael Putland/Getty

Bad Blood

Figuring that 15 years of regular drinking and drugging had taken a toll on his system, Lemmy decided to have a complete blood transfusion in 1980. He figured it would be like an oil change — out with the old, in with the new. But Lemmy held off after his doctor ran some tests and determined he would react badly to healthy blood. "He told me I didn't have human blood in my system anymore," he told Inked. "Apparently, I had become so toxic, mostly from all the speed and alcohol, that fresh blood would have killed me."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Fin Costello/Getty

This is Spinal Tap

For Motörhead's Iron Fist tour in 1982, a team constructed a stage prop of a giant fist with spotlights at the tips of its fingers. The band began the show by descending from the ceiling and by the time they got to the bottom, the fist would be open and they would be performing. "Naturally enough, it didn't work right the first night," Lemmy wrote in White Line Fever. "We got stuck going back up as well. The stage rose about halfway and stopped moving and curtains caught on the stage. Philthy nearly stepped from his kit into oblivion."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead performs on stage in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, 1991. (Photo by Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images)

Martyn Goodacre/Getty

German Obsession

Much has been written about Lemmy's fascination with Nazi Germany and his collection of German war memorabilia. "The Germans had the best uniforms," he said. "The bad guys always have the best stuff — the Confederates, Napoleon." In interviews for Al Jourgensen's biography, the Ministry frontman talked about catching Lemmy in a particularly compromising position after a show in Austin in 1995. "I knocked [on Motörhead's] bus. No answer. So I open the fuckin' door and there's Lemmy in a complete full-in Gestapo uniform spanking a naked chick with a riding crop. She was loving it. So was he. I apologized and closed the door."

Lemmy; WIldest Moments

Camera Press/Redux

Kind of Blue

When Lemmy was diagnosed with a dangerous arrhythmia in 2011, he underwent surgery to have a miniature cardioverter-defibrillator implanted in his chest, which delivered a jolt of electricity when it detected an irregular heartbeat. After the operation, Lemmy gave up smoking and cut back to one alcoholic drink a day. But there were complications during his recovery. He started retaining fluids and was bedridden for two weeks. Doctors couldn't figure out why he was gaining so much weight until they examined his diet and found that he was binging on blueberries as a substitute for drinking. "I guess anything in excess is no good for you, even things that are supposed to be healthy," he told Revolver.

In This Article: Lemmy Kilmister, Motorhead

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