As soon as I heard the news from a friend – and after a quick confirmation on Google – my first instinct was to reach for the bottle of Jack Daniel’s I’d received for Christmas and spin a few Motörhead videos on YouTube. I’d like to think Lemmy would smile at the fact that his favourite Tennessee tipple and loud music were the legacy he left on me, and that he’s enjoying the same thing now, wherever he might be.

Honestly, though, what’s left to talk about? In a way, it’s comforting that there won’t be much said about Lemmy in death that wasn’t while he was alive. He was a long-since celebrated embodiment of heavy metal’s excessive, supersonic rebellion and nihilistic cool, a sense of freedom that anyone who’s ever grown their hair unsociably long or worn a black band t-shirt will have felt. The seminal screaming of ‘Killed By Death’ scared the shit out of me as a child, and Lemmy’s satanic laugh in the song’s bridge still gave me something of a chill while doing some last-minute shopping with my headphones in on Christmas Eve last week. After seeing them for the first time at 15 years old, I lay awake in bed, sweating and wondering if my hearing would ever be the same again. It felt fucking great.

Lemmy might have been known more for his substance abuse than musical substance in certain circles, but he and Motörhead reconciled the worlds of rock, punk and metal, which, while sharing a common goal, are too often quick to divide and segregate. Delivering what was, in essence, his beloved ’50s rock ‘n’ roll with a reckless attitude and overloaded volume, he wasn’t a stranger in any genre of heavy music, the collective bands each wanting him in their corner. His support acts in recent years included names as diverse as In Flames, The Wildhearts and UK Subs. He’s been name-dropped by Keith Richards and hero-worshipped by Dave Grohl. He inspired thrash, black metal and even punk, having been a bad influence of a big brother figure to Lars Ulrich, riling some noisy Norwegians (Immortal’s Abbath plays in a Motörhead tribute band) and, with Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor, helping to stylise D-beat hardcore. He championed women in metal at a time when the scene was something of a misogynistic boys’ club, establishing the likes of Girlschool and Skew Siskin. Ihsahn, Phil Anselmo and Nikki Sixx tweeted their condolences. Ozzy Osbourne called him a “legend” and a “best friend.” Not a single band you’ve ever enjoyed reading about in the pages of Terrorizer doesn’t owe something to Motörhead in some way.

While the motor had started to sputter in recent years – several cancelled shows and reports of ill health had plagued their latest activity – Lemmy faced mortality with his trademark tongue-in-cheek humour, telling The Guardian “apparently I am still indestructible” after his illness necessitated a walking stick. Even that break in their signature song ‘Ace Of Spades’ sums up his carefree existentialism – “I’m born to lose / And gambling’s for fools / But that’s the way I like it, baby / I don’t want to live forever.” Even though many had started to muse over how much of a loss Lemmy would one day be, for his death to happen so suddenly has hit like a lightning bolt and the pain felt by fans likely won’t subside until long after the coming weeks, in which the band were meant to tour the country. As we enter the second half of the 2010s, we should look forward to another year of new music borne in some way from Lemmy’s legacy, but there’s no denying that the world of metal will never be quite the same again for his absence.

They were Motörhead. And they played rock and roll.

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