Monday, January 4, 2016


Starring Lemmy Kilmister,
Mikkey Dee,
Phil Campbell,
Miranda Sawyer
Directed by Alex Berk
Fascinating look at the late legendary rock star.
In this 2005 documentary of British metal band Motorhead’s 2003 tour, we get to know 57 year-old Lemmy on the road and at home in Los Angeles.
For those unfamiliar with Motorhead, the power-trio formed in 1975 and made the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest band ever. In the early ‘80s Motorhead was one of Britain’s biggest bands. The single “Ace of Spades” still gets a lot of radio play. Metal fans worship Lemmy, the only member of the original group still playing.
When asked why he thinks Motorhead has kept going, Lemmy says, “Because we didn’t give up. That’s the basic thing about surviving.” He adds, “Let’s face it, I’m not qualified for anything else.”
Two other Motorhead documentaries freely available on YouTube have value: Lemmy and Guts and Glory. Live Fast, Die Old, however, is more interesting and has better pacing than either of those. It’s not a thoroughly comprehensive documentary by any stretch, but it’s always watchable because so much of it feels like hanging out with Lemmy.
Rock peers and fans alike give Lemmy huge respect not so much for riches accrued as for doing things his way—never compromising his sound and always staying authentic. No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith is the 1981 live album that defines the band. Check out his 1991 appearance on David Letterman, though, when he covers Chuck Berry’s “Let it Rock” and behold how whatever Lemmy played, he improved it and made it his own.
Having worked as a roadie for none other than Jimi Hendrix, Lemmy’s resume positively gleams. “I know intellectually I wasn’t in Motorhead once,” he says of his life in music, “but I don’t remember what it felt like.”
Hawkwind, the band he was in from ’72 – ’75, has tons of great songs, not least of which being “Silver Machine.” Regarded as himself something of a rock n’ roll gold standard, Lemmy credits Little Richard more than anyone else as deserving the title King of Rock.
The narrator’s claim of Motorhead being “rock’s most stubborn survivors” refers to lagging ticket sales. And that lack of financial success is one of the things that makes both the band and the documentary of the tour so compelling. We see an artist at one with the art.
 “I think that’s what people like about it more than the music is the attitude,” Lemmy says of the band. “We never gave up.”

 Stewart Kirby writes for

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