I’ve always felt that Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, frontman of Motörhead, was something of a kindred spirit. For example: Lemmy was thrown out of Hawkwind for being busted with methamphetamine at the Canadian border after lacing his band mates’ food with acid. I too was thrown out of my first band (Cherry Blossom Clinic) for not being able to play a musical instrument or sing.
The similarities don’t end there, as I have discovered whilst reading Lemmy’s autobiography, White Line Fever, during my current UK tour. It turns out that life on the road is very similar whether you’re a mutton-chopped rocker or a clean-shaven comedian (N.B. I don’t actually shave). Even the book’s title resonated with me, as I go hot and cold just thinking about the miles of white lines in the middle of British motorways and B-roads that I’ve seen this year…
OK, so I’m in my 10-year-old Volvo V-70 Estate, whereas Lemmy is in a tour bus. Also he’s playing international rock festivals, whereas I am touring British arts centres and small provincial theatres. Nonetheless, I was struck by the coincidences: The very day I read about Lemmy being escorted from a plane in L.A. because he was drunk on Jack Daniels, I was reprimanded by a stage manager in Bishop’s Stortford for a similar offence. (As you’ll see from the picture I had nearly finished a whole glass of Pinot Grigio before he caught me!)
Being away from home means temptations are everywhere, and it’s easy to overdo it: During a gig to celebrate the Bomber album going silver, Lemmy blacked out because he’d had three blowjobs that afternoon. In Aberystwyth I found out the hard way that having an award-winning cream tea just before you go on stage can make you a bit bilious towards the end of the first half.
I’m sure that neither Lemmy’s audience nor mine realise some of the backstage nightmares that go on: Motörhead had legal and technical trouble transporting their props, including a 40 foot replica WWII German Bomber and a silver-coated human skull. In Aldershot I realised the batteries for my one prop – a V-tech Roll and Wiggle Caterpillar – had died! A pretty hair-raising dash to the late-night Spar ensued.
Despite all this drama, life on the road is a lot of fun. I had to laugh when I read Lemmy’s account of a Finnish rock festival where he and his bandmates set fire to a caravan and pushed it into a lake. It reminded me of the time I drew a penis in lipstick on the mirror backstage in Folkestone. I was on my own at the time, but I bet if anyone’s seen it since, it’s given them a chuckle.
It’s been interesting reading about Lemmy’s life, but it did raise one question: Has the gravel-voiced rocker ever played the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton, and been given his rider in a princess lunchbox (including a Rolo pudding)? No. Therefore I win.
Thank you to Lucy for those words and pictures. Lucy is currently on tour, and will then be performing at the Edinburgh Fringe. For more details visit www.lucyporter.co.uk