Whisky Heroes: Lemmy Kilmister

It might seem off-topic to talk about a musician on a blog that’s dedicated to whisky, but when you talk about Ian Fraser Kilmister, then the two are synonymous.

Now in his 40th year as the singer, songwriter and bassist of the loudest band on the planet, Lemmy is world-renowned as one of the foremost hellraisers that rock and roll has ever had to offer. The stories that surround him are the stuff of legend and for many (including myself) the Motorhead frontman is in fact considered a living legend. The fact that he is still living makes that statement even more pertinent… as well as making him a medical marvel!

If this introduction seems a little full-on, then I must confess, it is because I have been listening to Motorhead for as long as I can remember, and as the more heavy-metal-inclined of the WU writers, I felt it necessary to write about the man and his affinity with whisky.

Having grown-up with the ‘head and having seen them on numerous occasions, I’ve heard many stories about Mr Kilmister and his intoxicant ways. One anecdote tells of how a doctor once told him that if he were to give a blood transfusion to someone then he would kill the person receiving it. Others tell of how he routinely drinks a bottle of whisky a day. Another folktale tells of how another doctor reportedly told Lemmy that if he were to quit his excesses then he himself would die… (after which his neighbour’s lawn might come back to life!)

Ian and Jack
Whilst alcohol is not the only vice of Lemmy’s (I mean, the band is called “Motorhead” after all and his biography is even called “White Line Fever” – which incidentally is a great read), Mr Kilmister has been linked with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whisky throughout his fame. The two even mirror each other with their black and white stylings, their no-nonsense attitude and their entrenched, idol-like status within the rock and roll circuit.

With all of the myths that surround the man, it is too easy to forget that he is indeed a man. This was really brought home in the 2010 feature-length documentary, Lemmy (IMDb), in which, amongst all of the accolades from his peers, you get to see him backstage, alone, Jack in hand. It may have just been clever editing, but you really got the feeling that once you stripped away the attitude and the bad boy hijinks, he is still a man at the end of the day, with a simple philosophy: life is worth living, and you’ve got to live it loudly… and with whisky.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Lemmy revealed that he has now had to replace his standard Jack and Coke with vodka and orange juice “for health reasons” – somewhat countering the virtues shared in previous blog article: Whisky Is Good For You. I agree with the journalist’s comments that I cannot see how switching from one spirit and sugary mixer to another could help matters too much, but it does mark the end of a longstanding relationship between Lem and Jack. A relationship that will live in infamy. And one that will surely now see the warehouse in Lynchburg backed up for some time.

To be fair, the man has been blighted with health concerns in the last few years, and not surprisingly so, but the fact that he is still here today is testament to his love of life and living it to its fullest, and I think that we should all tip our silver-skull-encrusted cowboy hats and raise a glass of the good stuff to the self-professed “indestructible” anti-hero, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister.


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