You know when people say that someone-or-other is a “national treasure”? Nice accolade, but nowhere near enough to describe Lemmy Kilmister. I think of him as a kind of extraterrestrial. Maybe a superhuman visionary, dropped onto Earth by an exasperated higher power to teach us lunkheads a thing or two.
To that end, I’m thrilled to find out that the Lemmy documentary is finally premiering at SXSW in a couple of weeks. A celluloid document of one of the greatest rock ‘n’ rollers to ever walk the Earth is so long overdue it hurts.
Check out the trailer below, and heed Dave Grohl’s sage opening words: “Fuck Keith Richards…” Indeed. Sure, Keith’s lived a little, but let’s be honest: He’s also worth a solid nine figures and flies around on private jets. His most strenuous moment in recent years was hurting himself climbing palm trees in Fiji. Seriously.
Lemmy? Not in the same category, thanks. I’ve seen Motorhead plenty of times, but the most recent was at BB King’s in Times Square. It’s a tourist-y restaurant, but with a venue on the lower level that’s club-like small. From time to time they host big-name veteran acts at a punishing ticket price. Man, is it worth it, though. Once you’re in, you’re so close it feels like a private show.
It was chaos that night — I suspect a lot of that follows Lemmy around. Outside were fleets of choppers parked along 42nd Street like soldiers at attention, and once you descended to the club, it was nothing but bug-eyed, teeth-grinding biker gorillas divided around the space by gang. Gentle and alert maneuvering were required to get into place, to say the least. But when the band came out, I was slack-jawed. Dumbstruck.
You know that Charlie Murphy/Rick James thing from Chappelle’s Show, where Charlie says that he saw a glowing aura around Rick James the first time he met him? It was like that. Except Lemmy’s aura is basically a roar of black smoke, WWII memorabilia and Jack Daniels mist. And the volume in there! My face was vibrating! (As he says in this great clip of interviews, “Nobody’s talking while I’m on, I’m sorry. They’re watching the band or they’re leaving.”)
I’m tellin’ ya, it was force of nature shit, and all I’m ever on is seltzer, trust me. There he is, 60 years old, head flung back, shouting into the mic with that giant industrial fan at his feet blowing his hair back. I swear he’s not even human. I wasn’t watching a guy, I was watching a presence. Now I’m chomping at the bit to see him on the big screen.