Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to look at Lemmy’s thoughts on religion

Lemmy
(Image credit: Getty)

To many people, Lemmy himself was a god. He would never have accepted that, of course. The Motorhead frontman had a healthy disregard for ass-kissing and phoney veneration. But what about organised religion? His dad was a clergyman and Lemmy was in a band called The Rockin’ Vicars – was he a believer?

Um, no. 

“I’m not religious,” Lemmy told us back in 2004. “My father was a priest. Anglican vicar, Church Of England. He left my mother and me when I was three months old, so that let religion down right there. 

“Then my mother wanted to marry my stepfather and he was Roman Catholic – he’d been devout all his life – so he wrote to the Vatican to get dispensation to marry my mother because she was a divorcee. They sent him a letter – this is the Vatican, right? The fucking Pope – saying that he could only marry my mother if he declared me illegitimate. That’s the church, man. 

“So he wrote back and said: ‘Excommunicate my ass.’ And they did. They excommunicated him. It didn’t seem to blight his happiness at all, from what I could see.”

On the 2006 album Kiss of Death, he put his feelings down on the song God Was Never On Your Side. 

“…There is no heaven in the sky/Hell does not wait for our downfall/Let the voice of reason shine/Let the pious vanish for all time… 

"If God is wise, why is He still/When these false prophets call Him friend?/Why is He silent? Is He blind?…God was never on your side”.

On 1987’s Rock’n’Roll he suggested that rock’n’roll was the only belief system he needed: “I'm in love with rock 'n' roll, it satisfies my soul… And if that's all there is, it ain't so bad”.

“God’s a crutch for people who don’t know who they are,” he told us. “I’m responsible for what I do. And I’ll take responsibility for everything I’ve said and done. I don’t need to hide behind the devil. ‘The devil made me do it!’ Well, you shoulda put your fingers in your fucking ears! God would’ve helped you put your fingers in your ears, wouldn’t he? Might have even put His Holy Fingers in your ears.

“Religion’s just spiritual insurance. Put a few quid in the plate every month and then you think you’re going to heaven later.

“Everybody that’s good goes to heaven? Must be fucking crowded up there! How are you going to find your loved ones? Are they gonna post a notice? 'Coming up this week…' I’m going to Hell – that’s where all the pool tables are. You can’t imagine a pool table in Heaven, can you?

“If I believe in anything, I believe in reincarnation. Because you have these flashes of memory of something you’ve never known before. And then you have periods of history you’re really interested in and other periods you couldn’t give a shit about – even though they’re just as interesting as a period. But you just don’t have a connection with them, somehow. Other bits you have a connection with, and I think it’s because you were alive in those bits. That makes sense to me. But then, who says it has to make sense? That’s just wishful thinking of another kind…”

“It always killed me about Japan,” he said. “The Emperor Hirohito (opens in new tab) – he’s the son of heaven. Why did he need glasses? It’s obviously ridiculous right there, but no one dared question it because he’s the emperor.”

But perhaps his best ever line on Christianity was in an interview with French site Radio Metal (opens in new tab). “Religion is stupid anyway,” he said. “I mean, a virgin gets pregnant by a ghost. You would never get away with that in a divorce court, would you?”

Scott Rowley
Content Director, Music

Scott is the Content Director of Music at Future plc, responsible for the editorial strategy of online and print brands like Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog, Guitarist, Guitar World, Guitar Player, Total Guitar etc. He was Editor in Chief of Classic Rock magazine for 10 years and Editor of Total Guitar for 4 years and has contributed to The Big Issue, Esquire and more. Scott wrote chapters for two of legendary sleeve designer Storm Thorgerson's books (For The Love Of Vinyl (opens in new tab), 2009, and Gathering Storm (opens in new tab), 2015). He regularly appears on Classic Rock’s podcast, The 20 Million Club (opens in new tab), and was the writer/researcher on 2017’s Mick Ronson documentary Beside Bowie (opens in new tab)