Movie Review: Lemmy (Entertainment One)

Fannish DVD sidesteps fripperies and worships the Motorhead mutha as the pure, raw, loud rock'n'roll sweetheart he is

There is nothing new to be learned about Lemmy here. You’ll see him sipping Jack Daniel’s and Coke at the Rainbow on Sunset, roaring the loudest, rawest, rock’n’roll music there is to lots of people devil hornin’ and headbangin’, examining Nazi memorabilia in his tiny apartment, and making anyone who’s anyone in rock and metal – [a]Slash[/a], Dave Grohl, [a]Alice Cooper[/a], [a]Metallica[/a] and, er, Jarvis – gush like geeky, giggling fanboys desperate to gain his approval. He’ll talk about how he used to score acid for [a]Jimi Hendrix[/a] and how Jimi was a fair man because “he’d take seven, and give you three”. You will hear him say matter-of-factly that the reason he has never married is because “sex lasts half an hour, and a rock concert lasts an hour and a half”. You’ll hear his son – with whom he also reminisces about when they “tag-teamed” two women in Stringfellows – mention the time his father asked him not to do cocaine, “because speed is much better for you”.

The reason there is nothing new is because Lemmy, obviously, doesn’t deal in the new. He deals in being who he is and not changing, for anyone. To their credit, directors (and, clearly, fans) Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver recognise this, and don’t attempt to uncover “the real Lemmy”. They simply portray their subject’s no-nonsense, take-it-or-leave-it, resistant-to-fashion hyper-rock-realness, warts-and-all (no pun intended).

It is an inspiring film not because of the whole sticking-to-his-guns thing, but because of the purity of it. Here is a man who heard Little Richard then [a]The Beatles[/a] and decided that was it: he would spend the rest of his life playing this music, living this life. Simple. He has never got the mansion, the wife, done the stint in rehab. This is it.

His views may jar with some people’s, but here Lemmy unquestionably comes across as a man with strong morals. He describes his father as “a miserable little dickhead in glasses. All he ever did was walk out on me.” Asked what the most treasured possession in his apartment is, he points at his son, who quite patently adores and is in awe of him. Later, Corey Parks (of Chelsea Girls/Nashville Pussy) tells of how her husband thought she was having an affair with Lemmy, and how Lemmy wrote him a letter saying they were good friends but that he “would never cross that line, because I’m not that type of man”. All the people around him say he is lovely, and that certainly comes across throughout.

Thus glamourising the rock’n’roll lifestyle is left to his careerist disciples who goofily harp on about how much he can drink, while he declares sternly that he “does not wanna advertise a lifestyle that killed a lot of my friends, OK?” He scoffs that people who think he is a Nazi are idiots (“I’ve had six black girlfriends”) and makes zero apologies for referring to women as bitches, claiming he understands the fairer sex “better than most guys”. In the glimpse we get of him in the studio, he’s listening to ‘Teach You How To Sing The Blues’ from 2008’s ‘Motörizer’. The first snippet of a lyric we hear is, “If you wanna get your hands on a beautiful girl/You gotta use a MasterCard”. The second (and last) is: “There’s no excuse for bullshit/So don’t try to feed me none”. These two lines are as good a tagline for Lemmy the movie – and, indeed, the Man – as you can get. Also there is, of course, the live footage.

If you’re not moved by Lemmy blasting through ‘Ace Of Spades’ or ‘Motörhead’ with as much fire as the first time he played them, there’s something wrong with you. Hearing him roar the words to ‘Rock It’ alone is reason enough to watch this movie: “Rock’n’roll will save your soul/And I got it/ Give it to me loud and free/Don’t knock it”. As is the fact that long after this film has brought him more attention, long after many of the people in it who call him “a god” are counting their millions sober and contemplating their next investment, he’ll still be singing those words to anyone who’ll listen.

Hamish MacBain