Due to the Holidays, this post is perhaps too late to the fair, but from the heart nonetheless. Lemmy Kilmister 1945-2015
Dragged to Motorhead show at Bogart’s in 1984 (December?) by my younger brother. He went as a rabid fan; I went as an anthropologist. Standing at the foot of Bogart’s raised stage, chin on the monitors; oblivious to the mosh pit behind:
- The band hit their first E chord and I physically feel the air pressure from the Marshall stacks rush past, like a tsunami, to the back of the hall. My ears completely close up, going into survival mode.
- I immediately notice Lemmy Kilmister’s famous vocal technique, which consists of positioning a microphone above his head and singing up into it, so his neck is stretched out like a chicken’s (for maximum R&B?). In fact, where we are, our necks are doing the same thing, so there is a camaraderie.
- Several songs later, the stage-right guitarist (one Phil Campbell) keeps making these funny jerking motions. I look over to my left and behind the curtain, there is a roadie pulling on his guitar cable, just to fuck with him. If not an actual dwarf, the prankster was at the very least a small, stout Englishman, who likely worked in a salt mine or construction site in Sheffield when he wasn’t touring the world with Motorhead.
- People are climbing onto the stage and either a) diving off, or b) being tossed off by security. Somehow a very tipsy girl gets onstage and saunters up to Lemmy in mid-song; instead of a) or b), she is c) escorted backstage by a roadie (possibly the same guitar-cable-pulling dwarf; memory is fuzzy). We never see her again.
- In between songs, drummer (one Peter Gill) climbs up and stands on his drum stool, pulls down his gym shorts, and raises his drumsticks into the air, revealing his manhood for everyone in the hall to see. Didn’t Jim Morrison get arrested for this once (and Jim didn’t even really go through with it)? He gets an ovation.
- In the final number, Lemmy and the two guitarists (apparently, it took two to replace the recently-departed Fast Eddie Clarke) detune their tuning keys, lean their instruments against the amps, turn every knob that isn’t already up to 10 up to 10, and exit the stage. The roar of feedback sounds like nothing so much as tanks knocking down the walls of Bogart’s. My friend (and former manager) Bob Hallas, who owned and ran the PA at the time, is rushing along the backline, frantically grabbing microphones out of the stands. Whether the microphones were truly in danger, or he was just being dramatic, it puts a cap on a truly primal and entertaining night.
I’m sure I didn’t pick up one clever guitar lick, or savor a profound lyric, or wax and wane through a series of emotions, or contemplate anything. But I left a rabid fan.