Rock’n’roll behemoth Lemmy: a man who ploughed through life like an articulated lorry full of speed and righteous rage, who famously claimed to have drunk a bottle of whisky every day since his 30th birthday. The Motörhead frontman sung about not wanting “to live forever” but seemed destined to do so; indeed, earlier this year he told The Guardian : “Apparently I am still indestructible”.
Yet on December 28 2015, mere months after that interview, he was killed by a monstrous brain cancer just two days after its diagnosis. He was 70 years old. It’s barely six months since Motörhead performed their biggest hit, the rollicking 1980 rock’n’roll demon ‘Ace of Spades’, during a pulverising set on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
So it’s understandable that fans are determined to preserve his memory. Fans like John Wright from York, who spotted the recent news that scientists from Russia, Japan and America have discovered four new “super heavy” elements that has been inducted into the Periodic Table. According to the BBC: “They can’t exist on earth and only last for a fraction of a second”. They are heavy metals. They live fast. So Wright has created a petition, imploring the Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry to name one of them Lemmium, a tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, a man Wright says was “a force of nature and the very essence of heavy metal”.
But was he really? Some 18-and-a-half thousand signees seem to think so, but Lemmy himself might have begged to differ, as he always denied that Motörhead was a heavy metal band. In 2010 he told The Independent: “We were a rock and roll band. Still are. Everyone always describes us as heavy metal even when I tell them otherwise. Why won’t people listen?” As Rolling Stone pointed out, Motörhead were influenced by rock’n’roll pioneers Little Richard and The Beatles.
Anyway, it takes more than a petition to name an element, as strict rules dictate that they must be Christened by the discoverer. The website Quartz states they must even then be named after “a mythological concept or character (including an astronomical object); a mineral, or similar substance; a place or geographical region; a property of the element; or a scientist”.
Still, if there’s one person who could overcome the obstacle of being neither a heavy metal musician or a scientist, it’s Lemmy, a man who transcended humble beginnings in Stoke-on-Trent and North Wales to die a legend in West Hollywood, the year that his beloved band released their 22nd studio album of unstoppable, death-defying rock’n’roll.