I first heard the sound of Lemmy’s bass in 1972 when I was 10 years old. It was Silver Machine by Hawkwind playing on my transistor radio. I was well aware that this sounded very different to anything else that was on Radio 1 at the time. Pretty soon I was listening to the 1973 album Space Ritual by Hawkwind. This is when I starting getting into his more melodic bass lines that Lemmy played in songs like ‘Space is Deep’. I also appreciated the power of the sound that Lemmy got from his Rickenbacker bass when was playing double stopped ‘fifths’ and ‘forths’.
Pretty soon me and my schoolmates were going to Motorhead gigs and thoroughly enjoying the loudest band we had ever heard. The gigs at Victoria Hall in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent were particularly notable. These were gigs from the ‘Bomber Tour’ and the ‘Overkill Tour’ in 70s, however it wasn’t until the 90s that I actually got to speak face to face with Lemmy himself.
Despite seeing Motorhead several times, I only got to speak with Lemmy once. It was on Saturday 6 July 1991 at The Brixton Academy, Stockwell Road, London. The event was The Hawkwind 12 Hour Technicolor Dream. The bands I really wanted to see were Radical Dance Faction, 25th of May and of course Hawkwind. There’s an almost secret bar in The Brixton Academy that you can find by going upstairs to the circle area and then going down one of the steps of stairs from there. This is is where you will find the bar that is kind of underneath the circle part of the auditorium. Whilst waiting for a drink, I noticed someone who looked very much like Lemmy standing by the side of the bar, but not as tall as he always seemed on stage. I think he was about 5’10” but I’d always imagined he’d be well over 6′. But really you can’t mistake that Lemmy face can you? Once I had my cider in hand, I thought I’d have chat with him. As I recall it went something like this:
Me: Ahh another bloke from Stoke…
Lemmy: Who’s asking?
Me: I’m Rick, I’m a bass player from Stoke too.
Lemmy: You’re not from Burslem are ya?
Me: No I’m from Clayton, but I don’t live there now. I remember seeing you on The Bomber Tour when I was a teenager. It was a gig at the Victoria Hall, up Hanley.
Lemmy: Oh arr, that’s a while back then…
Me: Yeah I remember you said, “Good Evening Stoke-on-Trent, I’m from Stoke too, it’s a nice place…to leave!”
Lemmy: Did I say that?
Me: I’m pretty sure you did, at least that’s what I remember. Anyroad up, what you doing here tonight, are you playing?
Lemmy: Nah just seeing some old friends.
Me: OK well have a good night then
Well that was 24 years ago and today I woke up today to the news that Lemmy died yesterday. From what I can tell I think he had a pretty good 70 years doing what he liked doing, so good on him. I’m glad that I saw Lemmy play on many occasions and I’m glad that I had a chance to have a brief chat with him.
Note: I think most of this story is reasonably accurate, but there is a possibility it could have been the Hawkwind 12 hour Technicolor dream from September 1st 1990, which I also went to. This was all a long time ago now, so some details may well be a bit sketchy.
Farewell Lemmy; from another bloke from Stoke.