Welcome Rock Fiction author Sarah Tipper to The Rock of Pages! She was Tweeting about reading Lemmy: The Definitive Biography, and so I asked if she’d like to write a review for us here at The Rock of Pages. While we like to focus on the fiction end of the rock, we know that there’s some amazing non-fiction out there, too. We’re glad to represent.
When Susan invited me to review Lemmy The Definitive Biography she was kindly making an exception to a rule (well, more a guideline), because usually it’s fiction that gets reviewed around here. The great thing about Lemmy is that he told some tall stories and so there is undoubtedly some pockets of fiction in this non-fiction biography. I remember reading in an interview with Lemmy that he went to see a Harley Street doctor and was told not to give up drinking and drug taking by this medical expert because it’d kill him. Since I read this as a teenager I’ve had this tale recounted to me many, many times in pubs and at gigs. It might be shaggy dog stuff but it added to the myth of Lemmy. I am happy to myth(ologize) Lemmy but very sad to miss Lemmy.
So, The Definitive Autobiography. Definitive, eh? With authority and conclusively? Actually yes, that’s how it reads. Wall spoke to Lemmy himself repeatedly and to a lot of those close to Lemmy. Sometimes the things you say in response to a question from a trusted friend are not things you’ve ever directly thought about yourself and so Wall’s information from those close to Lemmy is often enlightening.
Well, that’s Wall’s credentials established, what about mine? I am a long time Motörhead and Lemmy fan. I dedicated my most recent book to Lemmy (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eviscerated-Panda-So-Far-Good-ebook/dp/B01CRJ3G0C). I’ve started a Lemmy shrine (it needs fairy lights and some angels, I’m trying to find some slutty looking ones but typing slutty Christmas angels into Google is producing interesting results).
My Lemmy shrine complete with Mick Wall’s book (fairy lights and slutty angels to be added at a later date).
In Lemmy The Definitive Biography, Mick Wall covers the areas less well covered in other Lemmy tomes (he’s clearly very familiar with White Line Fever by Lemmy and Janiss Garza). Wall covers the Hawkwind years and Motörhead’s career in detail but he avoids the trap of long dull lists of tour dates and technical information that some rock and metal biographies fall into. Quotes from Lemmy are sprinkled throughout which makes you feel he’s still around, dispensing wisdom.
My favourite parts of the book are;
Lemmy calling Eddie Clarke “Fancy Bollocks”.
Lemmy complimenting Colleen Nolan on her tits in a totally non-sleazy way.
Lemmy claiming Motörhead had the power to make lawns die (neatly skewering and satirizing suburban preoccupations in one sentence).
Lemmy quoted as saying “I live my life as decent as I can, you know, I never made…I hardly ever made a promise I didn’t keep”.
My least favourite part of the book was;
I cried on page 288. Yeah, I knew he was going to die but Lemmy is woven into a lot of metal fans lives, including mine. I last saw him live in 2014 at Wacken Open Air (with Heavy Metal Panda, the mascot for my Eviscerated Panda series) and now I like to think of Lemmy as being in the big backstage area in the sky.
In summary, Wall’s book is a splendid read that captures Lemmy’s unique philosophy of life. You’ll be able to ask yourself after reading “What would Lemmy do?” and be able to answer yourself. The answer is probably stay determined, stick to your guns, have a drink and don’t let the bastards grind you down. Thank you, Mick Wall for a chunky book of warm Lemmy tales.