Who Is Lemmy Kilmister? The Motörhead Leader Deserves His Grammy Tribute
For those who don't know who Lemmy Kilmister is, he is a music icon whose fans only need one name to describe him. The bassist, singer, and songwriter of the English metal band Motörhead better known as Lemmy, who passed away in December 2015 at the age of 70, wasn't a household name. He didn't sell tons of records or take over the Billboard charts (though, his band's biggest hit "Ace Of Spades" did earn a spot in the Rock Band 2 video game). But those he inspired, like Ozzy Osbourne, the Foo Fighters and Metallica, would go on to do just that. That's why it doesn't matter if you know his name. His legacy is greater than that; he influenced a whole culture. It's the reason why why Lemmy Kilmister is being honored at the 2016 Grammy Awards.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Alice Cooper said he would pay tribute to Lemmy at the Grammys with his supergroup band, Hollywood Vampires, that includes Johnny Depp, Aerosmith's Joe Perry, and Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan — all fans of Lemmy. "We started this band as a means to toast our 'dead drunk friends' at the Rainbow, all the ghosts in the bar, and now I guess Lemmy is involved in that, too," Cooper told the magazine. Fitting, that Lemmy will get a raucous tribute since he was a classic definition of a rock star.
Lemmy, who started his band in 1975, was a partier who was known for hard living lifestyle that was filled with sex (Lemmy claimed to have slept with at least a thousand women), drugs (he used amphetamines, LSD and reportedly drank a bottle a day of Jack Daniel's from the time he was 30 years old), and rock and roll. He was a complicated person, someone who collected Nazi paraphernalia but wasn't a sympathizer — just a libertarian or an anarchist, apparently. He was a character at a time when music was filled with so many of them, but, with his gravelly delivery, mutton chops, and those warts that somehow added to his appeal, he was still mythical to so many.
The rocker from Wales wasn't a superstar or popular. Heck, he only took home one Grammy in his over-40-year career: Best Metal Performance in 2005 for the album, Whiplash. But he paid his dues playing clubs for decades to become a one-named star that will hold a special place in the hearts of metal fans everywhere. Lemmy was a cult hero whose music spoke to those who felt like outsiders. That's why it's nice to see that the Grammys realized this too. (Especially since awards for the rock and metal categories don't even make the live telecast. Instead, they're handed out beforehand with very little fanfare.) They realized Lemmy, like the late David Bowie, who will be honored by Lady Gaga at the awards, was there for those who didn't fit in, and it doesn't matter how many of them are tuning in to the broadcast.
This tribute to Lemmy, which isn't necessarily on brand, gives the sense that the Grammys understand his importance as someone who may not have gotten all the accolades, but is the reason so many others did. After Lemmy's death, Alice Cooper wrote a touching note on Facebook, explaining, "[Lemmy] was innovative, true to his art and continually relevant even though he never cared about being relevant." Now, after death, the Motörhead frontman is getting a tribute that makes sure he will never be forgotten for the legend he always was, whether you knew it or not.
Watch the Lemmy tribute at this year's Grammy Awards, airing Feb. 15 at 8 pm on CBS.