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(Credit: Alejandro Páez)

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How Cliff Richard inspired Motorhead singer Lemmy

@josephtaysom

Lemmy from Motorhead, and the eternal face of innocence, Cliff Richard, are two figures that have seldom been mentioned in the same sentence. However, as we trace the beginnings of a British music institution, we learn that the latter was the rocker’s first introduction to music.

Back when Lemmy was growing up in the somewhat dreary area of Stoke, a vast selection of music simply wasn’t easily accessible. The only snippets that entered his childhood came from the glimpses which he managed to catch on television. Anything he watched captivated the late Motorhead singer, and it didn’t matter who it was or what they were singing; Lemmy did not take a moment of music in his home for granted.

However, it didn’t take the metal icon to move onto stronger substances after Richard helped guide him towards the light. For someone famously clean-cut, ironically, circumstances made him the gateway drug in Lemmy’s love affair with rock ‘n’ roll.

“I always knew what I wanted to do,” Lemmy revealed to Paul Du Noyer. “I used to watch the TV show Oh Boy, Cliff Richard was the resident singer and he was immediately surrounded by all these birds screaming and tearing his clothes off. So I thought, ‘That’s the fucking job for me!’ And his gimmick then was that he never smiled, doing the moody Elvis thing. But you couldn’t stop the cunt smiling now with a crowbar, could you?”.

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Admittedly, the main thing that attracted him to Sir Cliff was the benefits that came along with the job, rather than the music he was performing on Oh Boy. However, after witnessing Richard parade on stage, Lemmy realised that he wanted nothing from life other than being a rockstar.

Soon enough, Lemmy became desperate to witness live music for himself and regularly headed up to Liverpool to witness historical early Beatles gigs at The Cavern. By this point, Kilmister was in deep, and his infatuation with rock ‘n’ roll was obsessive. “I used to trek up to Liverpool and see The Beatles at the Cavern,” he continued. “But Billy Fury was the first live show, another Scouser, in his silver lamé suit. That was a great bill, with Marty Wilde, Mike Sarne (Come Outside), Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers at the Llandudno Odeon. First record? Knee Deep In The Blues by Tommy Steele, on a 78 which my mother left outside in the sun one day. I had a couple of Elvis ones on 78. Ah, those dear, dead days.”

Soon enough, Lemmy started playing in bands of his own and making the graduation from the crowd to the stage. However, by his own admission, his first outfit, The Sundowners, were “truly awful” before fortuitously becoming the roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and everything else eventually slipped into place from there.

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