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Music

Lemmy Kilmister on the differences between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones

Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister was like no other figure in rock. A larger-than-life bassist who played harder than any of his contemporaries, this, in addition to his military-influenced aesthetics, helped him stand out from the crowd and his ascendance to becoming one of the definitive figures in the annals of music.

Hard rocking and hard partying, throughout his career Lemmy gave fans many stellar musical moments, which include the timeless ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Damage Case’, as well as in countless interviews where he captivated us with his story-telling ability, providing surreal anecdotes which often featured some of his most prominent contemporaries. 

Possessing a way with words that was unique in every sense, Lemmy was always a source of wisdom. In his 2002 memoir White Line Fever, he delivered a take that summed his personality up perfectly. He opined: “People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are. But it’s not true! People are still assholes, they’re just dead assholes!”

Kilmister was one of rock’s saving graces, and you can credit his work with helping to fly the flag of the cause even when it looked like it was on the brink of existential oblivion. He matched his genius with unfettered charisma, and this cemented his place in the pantheon of rock greats, as he unfailingly fulfilled his promise of providing a good time via the medium of rock, with a little help from his tipple of choice, Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

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He did it all over his career. Whether it be his influential work in prog-rockers Hawkwind, being the roadie for Jimi Hendrix, or all the insane antics he got up to in Motörhead, Lemmy’s career is so unbelievable that it is begging to be made into a biopic. 

Given that he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time, Lemmy was even lucky enough to watch The Beatles perform live. Aged 16, he watched John Lennon and the band perform at the now-iconic Cavern Club in Liverpool, and was blown away by what he saw.

Rapt, Lemmy even taught himself to play along on guitar to their first album Please Please Me. However, it wasn’t just the music of the Fab Four that captivated Lemmy, it was their sarcastic attitude which, at the time, was completely unprecedented. 

In White Line Fever, he said of The Beatles: “Brian Epstein cleaned them up for mass consumption, but they were anything but sissies. They were from Liverpool (…) a hard, sea-farin’ town, all these dockers and sailors around all the time who would beat the piss out of you if you so much as winked at them. (…) The Rolling Stones were the mummy’s boys—they were all college students from the outskirts of London. (…) The Stones made great records, but they were always shit on stage, whereas the Beatles were the gear.”

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