We find out the band’s front-man Lemmy (who passed away in December of 2015), had two sons. And he had zero interest in meeting one. And he’d only ever met the other, Paul, when the boy was 7. The two developed a close, albeit bewildering relationship. (They admitted to swapping girlfriends and Paul casually describes how his groupie mom lost her virginity to John Lennon.)
The documentary Lemmy is a fascinating glimpse into the very odd life and times of Lemmy Kilminister, known as much for his mutton chops, moles and military memorabilia as he was for the buzzsaw proto-punk metal he helped create.
We get to see the long-time World War buff parading around in a tank while wearing a Kaiser Willhelm cross as well as his impossibly large collection of knives from The Great War.
Viewers get a peek inside his rent-controlled, hoarder West Hollywood apartment, chosen as much for its proximity to his favorite bar as anything else. (For a guy who amassed a personal fortune in the millions, it was odd to see him living like a poor student.)
He might’ve sang, “I ain’t No Nice Guy,” but by all accounts he very much was. Lemmy was a down-to-earth bar fixture of LA’s infamous Rainbow, a Sunset Strip hangout for the likes of everyone from Elton John to Robert Plant and Alice Cooper.
VH-1 style, we hear from people who were influenced by his both his style and his music, including Kat Von D, Slash, Ozzy, Kirk Hammett (Metallica), and Scott Ian (Anthrax), as well as from adoring fans from all over the world, many of whom sport Motörhead ink and weep after taking photos with him.
But there’s simply too much adoration and Lemmy-worship. And that’s reflected by Lemmy himself, whose apartment was stuffed with Motörhead tchotchkes and monuments to, well, Lemmy. There’s no denying the founders of this site would love their very own bobble heads, but we’d like to think if we ever amassed a sizable personal fortune, we’d fill our respective living spaces with items other than our own books. Maybe art?
Viewers, including dyed-in-the-wool Motörhead fanboys, will come away from Lemmy feeling a bit sorry for him. Puer aeternus, or eternal youth, is a bit of a sad rock ‘n’ roll cliche and it’s a business where it seems to impossible to grow old with dignity.
In arguably the band’s best song, he sang:
You know I’m bad, the times I’ve had,
I’ve got a bad reputation,
I don’t care, I get my share,
Don’t feel no deprivation…
It’s one thing living life on your own terms; it’s quite another to be pigeonholed as a perpetually sauced speed-popper. He appeared to be a bit of a lonely loner, playing video poker, a whiskey and Coke perpetually in hand. (Lemmy was posthumously honored with his own limited edition Jack Daniels whiskey.)
His roadie admitted he was a guarded figure, so perhaps it was a challenge for the documentarians to get inside Lemmy’s head, but the best documentaries make you feel like you know their subjects. This one only marginally does.
*** (out of 5)