By Carl Singmaster
Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister founded and fronted the institutional hard rock band Motörhead; he passed away on Dec. 28. Carl Singmaster is the founder of Manifest Discs and Tapes and a former longtime resident of Columbia. He sold Manifest in 2004 and now lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, Amy, the founding publisher of Free Times.
In the pantheon of music, nobody better epitomized the essence of rock ‘n’ roll than Lemmy Kilmister. And no band had a greater impact on myself and legions of others than Motörhead.
I recall the first time I heard Motörhead played on the John Peel show. The very next afternoon I went to the record store and bought the Overkill 12-inch. Not long after, I saw Motörhead live on the Overkill tour and remember running to the restroom to get some toilet paper to stuff in my ears to ease the blistering volume. Ever since I've lived to hear Lemmy begin each concert, "Good evening. We are Motörhead and we play rock 'n 'roll!" and finish with Overkill. Or, "We are Motörhead and we'll kick your ass!"
Thereafter I made an almost annual trip to see Motörhead any year they didn't play in the state where I lived, which was most years in South Carolina. Most recently, I had the good fortune of seeing three of their final shows in Germany.
Off stage, Lemmy was gracious and incredibly quick-witted. In what I call the lean years for Motörhead — as audiences waned, and I wondered if they could continue — I asked Lemmy, "How do you keep doing it?" To which his instant reply was "If I die, they win." This was at their only appearance in Columbia at a small club called Wizards, where Lemmy hung out and talked with everyone post-show.
With Lemmy's passing there are no winners, just a colossal loss for rock ‘n’ roll.