Brian May Shares Why Lemmy Kilmister Is So Unique As A Musician
Brian May live in 2019 - AdamMethos / Youtube
Founded in 1975 in London, Motörhead emerged as a highly influential heavy rock band that inspired other heavy hitters that came after them. Despite not achieving substantial commercial success with just 15 million records sold globally, a figure considerably lower than some of their contemporaries, the band cultivated a devoted following and served as a profound source of inspiration for acts such as Metallica.
Additionally, they are remembered for the distinct charisma, bass playing, and vocals of the late Lemmy Kilmister, who served as the band’s leader and sole original member. When Lemmy died, the world of music mourned the loss of one of the most unsung heroes of rock.
One of the numerous tributes paid to the Motorhead frontman came from Brian May, the iconic guitarist of Queen. May fondly reminisced about the electrifying experience of sharing the stage with Lemmy during a Queen concert approximately a decade ago.
“Words don’t come easy, especially when you know Lemmy would have laughed at all of us to say dignified things about him being a hero… Unique in just about every way imaginable,” May said.
“He was a living mismatch of personality types”
After Lemmy’s passing in December 2015, Brian May shared a heartfelt message on his official website, attempting to articulate the exceptional qualities that made the late leader of Motörhead a truly extraordinary figure.
May recounted his own attempts to pay compliments to Lemmy face to face, which often resulted in a bemused, somewhat disdainful stare from the rock icon.
May further elaborated, stating, “But a kind of hero he certainly was. Unique in just about every way imaginable. He was a living mismatch of personality types. His music was roaring, abrasive, uncompromising. His lyrics mostly deliberately gave no hint of sensitivity. Yet, as a person, he was a pacifist, a deep thinker.”
The Queen guitarist shared that although he wasn’t among Lemmy’s circle, their paths frequently crossed, and the latter always found ways to express his respect towards May.
Lemmy was “very different from his public face”
“He consistently managed to convey remarkably respectful sentiments to me, leaving me disarmed, despite his own aversion to receiving praise, or so it appeared,” Brian added.
The Queen guitarist continued by highlighting the contrast between Lemmy’s public persona, marked by an unwavering toughness, and his private self, which harbored a deep tenderness.
May noted that one of his dearest friends had lived with Lemmy for a decade and always spoke of him as a gentle man, a far cry from his public image. In addition, May pointed out that Lemmy possessed a wealth of culture and knowledge, even though one might not see it.
“Lemmy was a highly cultured and well-read man. Yet to see him glued to a fruit machine most of a night in the Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Strip, you would never have guessed it. In fact, that hallowed place, steeped in Rock and Roll history, will always bear his spiritual mark,” the guitarist concluded.
Brian May guested on Motörhead’s final album
In his tribute to Lemmy, the Queen guitarist also recounted how he was invited by Phil Campbell, the guitarist of Motörhead, to perform a guitar solo on the track “The Devil”. This song appeared on Motörhead’s final album, Bad Magic, which was released in 2015, a few months before Lemmy’s death.
May commented, “I could go on. About Lemmy’s skills at embarrassing people (including me). And about his ability to soak up substances in quantities that would have anaesthetized a rhinoceros. But it’s enough. All the most important stuff is in his music.”
Campbell enlisted May to contribute to Bad Magic, an honor that held even greater significance after the Motörhead frontman’s passing.
In a Yahoo Music interview that same year, Lemmy expressed his thoughts on May’s contribution to the Motörhead track, stating, “I knew he’d nail it. Brian’s a nailer, all right. I thought he got a bit samey at the end of Queen. He’s said that himself. But it was great to have him on the album.”