So what would the late Lemmy Kilmister, the ferociously non-conformist founder and frontman of Motörhead, make of the group’s first nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Those who know him say that if elected, he would most likely serve.
“I remember when we won a Grammy (in 2005) he was prouder than any of us. He really glowed,” Mikkey Dee, Motörhead’s drummer from 1992 to Kilmister’s death in 2015, tells Billboard. “I said, ‘Lem, this is pretty fucking cool,’ and he said, ‘You’re right, mate. This is great.’ And when we got our hands in the Rock Walk on Sunset in Hollywood, that was also a moment for him, and he was really proud. And this here (Rock Hall nomination) is the king of kings, if you will, so he would’ve been very, very proud.”
Rob Halford of Judas Priest — which is on the Rock Hall ballot for a second time this year — concurs. “I think he’d be really happy,” Halford says. “Lemmy always had this big, tough guy personality, which he was, and I believe he’d have a few ‘words’ to say from one angle. But I think he’d be thrilled for his bandmates, and equally for his fans. I think he would genuinely appreciate this.”
And though he and guitarist Phil “Wizzo” Campbell, who logged 21 years with Motörhead, are not included in the nomination, Dee is just as excited about the potential honor.
“In my book, if anyone really deserves to be in that Hall of Fame, it’s Motörhead in so many ways because of the inspiration on thousands of bands,” says Dee, who’s currently playing with Scorpions. “Even the biggest of the biggest have been so influenced by Motörhead and Lemmy. It’s the real deal. If you talk to Ozzy (Osbourne), he thinks that Motörhead should have been in before Black Sabbath, even.”
Dee adds that even on the road with Scorpions he feels the lasting impact of Motörhead’s 40 years of metal mayhem, across 22 albums — the iconic Ace of Spades turns 40 next year — and relentless touring. “What I find now is it’s bigger than ever, this Motörhead thing,” Dee reports. “People are hysterical about it. I’ve never signed so many records and T-shirts and answered so many questions. They’re standing in droves with boxes full of Motörhead stuff for me to sign. It’s embarrassing sometimes how big it is, but it’s all about Motörhead still. It’s even bigger than when Lemmy was alive.”
Case in point: 40th anniversary editions of the band’s 1979 albums Overkill and Bomber are forthcoming, as is the Motörhead1979 box set which includes, among other things, remastered vinyl of both albums plus double-live albums of previously unheard concert material from the ’79 tours, B-sides, outtakes and rare tracks.
Motörhead, is, however, set up to be the subject of a lineup controversy should the group be chosen for induction on May 2 in Cleveland. The current nomination stipulates only the original lineup of Kilmister, guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, who died in 2018 and 2015, respectively. That leaves Dee and Campbell on the bench despite their long tenures in the band, along with five others who served in Motörhead for varying lengths of time.
“That is pure wrong, I would say, and I know Phil will be very disappointed, too,” Dee says. “We’ve been carrying the flag for 25 years together, and actually brought Motörhead to what it was. We did 25 years out of the 40. The original band lasted just a few years (Clarke left in 1982, Taylor in 1984 and returned from 1987-92). They started it off, but as Lemmy said himself they wouldn’t have lasted another six months doing that lineup. I don’t think we would’ve been where we are today without the 25 years we spent touring.”
Regardless of what happens, however, Dee says he and Campbell will attend the induction ceremony to represent if Motörhead makes it through. “Absolutely,” he declares. “I think that’s a must. Phil and me have to attend — and play there, of course. It would be a real honor.”