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.
“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.”
Reporting by Steve Appleford.