How a cigarette stopped Lemmy from having his toe amputated

"If I'm gonna fucking lose a toe, I'm gonna have a fucking cigarette"

A story has emerged that Motörhead icon Lemmy came close to having his toe amputated, but was unable to after he refused to stop smoking in the doctors’ surgery.

The late rock veteran suffered with diabetes. After it emerged that High On Fire’s Matt Pike recently came off tour in order to have a surgery due to the condition, an interview has emerged of Anthrax‘s Scott Ian revealing that Lemmy once underwent a similar procedure – but his stubborn rock n’ roll attitude got in the way.

“He literally almost lost a couple of toes because when he was in the throes of figuring out the diabetes and all that, a couple of his toes went black from bad circulation and all this,” Ian told Landry.Audio. “He goes to have the surgery done and he’s sitting in this office and he’s smoking a cigarette. And someone tells him, ‘You’re not allowed to smoke in here. What are you — crazy? You can’t smoke in this office.’ And he said, ‘Well, if I’m gonna fucking lose a toe, I’m gonna have a fucking cigarette.’.'”


Ian continued: “And long story short, they said, ‘You can’t smoke in here.’ And he said, ‘Well, then I won’t be in here.’ And he left. And he ended up seeing another doctor, and they literally told him, ‘You just need to change this or this in your diet, and your feet are gonna be fine.’ And he changed his diet, and he didn’t have to have his toes cut off.

“So a cigarette literally saved him from having a part of his body amputated.”

The Motörhead frontman died on December 28, 2015 from congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia. He had also been battling prostate cancer. He was 69 years of age.

Earlier this summer, fellow metal veteran Ozzy Osbourne revealed his last conversation with Lemmy.


“I phoned him on the day he died. I knew he was dying. He didn’t even know it was me…I had to say to him: ‘It’s Ozzy, Lem.’ He just gurgled down the phone to me. I said Lemmy, for fuck[s] sake, stay there, I’m coming.”

Osborne described how he tried to rush to Lemmy with his wife Sharon, but it was too late.

“I said to Sharon, ‘Fuck it, get in the car, we’re going round to his apartment.’ And just as we were leaving she came up to me and said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s gone.’”

Osborne toured with Motörhead on his first American tour. “That’s a memory I’ll take to my grave you know. Good times, they were all good guys, I miss them all to be honest.”