We all know Motörhead’s arsenal of music is as iconic as it is thunderously fast, but not every song in their repertoire is actually their own. Here are the ten best examples of bands Lemmy and co. have covered – including Metallica, Priest and the Stones.
Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen
It’s no secret that Mr Kilmister has always had a soft spot for punk rockers, and even spent a fruitless two weeks trying to teach Sid Vicious to play bass. Hardly surprising, then, that Motörhead covered this Sex Pistols classic, the video for which was filmed on an open top London bus. Slightly more surprising was the fact that Lemmy didn’t bother to learn the right lyrics, although that in itself is kinda punk rock.
**Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever
**The Nuge may be a repugnant individual, now better known for memes than for his music, but there’s no denying he wrote a cracking tune in Cat Scratch Fever. And thankfully you don’t have to listen to Nugent’s original when Lemmy and the boys do an immensely better job without harming any animals.
Chuck Berry – Louie Louie
Covered by just about every band on the planet (The Cramps, Led Zeppelin, Black Flag, Iggy And The Stooges and Joan Jett, to name but a few) this Chuck Berry standard was released as a single by Motörhead in September 1978 and saw them reaching a whopping 68 in the national charts. Which also meant we got to see them on Top Of The Pops for the first time. Result!
Tiny Bradshaw – Train Kept A Rollin
Popularised by The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin, with the notable exception that they didn’t sound like something Denzel Washington might be attempting to stop as it thundered at breakneck speed towards the next rickety bridge. Originally released in 1977 as the final track on Motörhead’s self-titled debut, it is best heard live and very, very loud.
The Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil
In keeping with Motörhead’s tradition of making great songs greater, their latest album Bad Magic offered up this astonishing rendition of the Rolling Stones classic, apparently at the request of the WWE Superstar Triple H. “That’s gonna piss the Stones right off!” cackled Lemmy in typical unrepentant fashion, while the rest of us wondered how Triple H got so lucky as to make requests!
Girlschool – Emergency
When Motörhead and Girlschool joined forces as Headgirl in 1981 to record Johnny Kidd And The Pirates’ Please Don’t Touch they also recorded one of each others’ tunes for the b-side. And while Girlschool turned in a decent rendition of Bomber, Motörhead made Emergency completely their own, with this truly blistering cover. This despite the fact that drummer Philthy Phil had a broken neck at the time.
Metallica – Whiplash
Metallica have paid homage with numerous Motörhead covers, and even dressed up as Lemmy to play for his 50th birthday party at the Whisky A Go Go (as The Lemmys), so it’s only natural that Motörhead returned the favour a couple of times. Frankly, it’s a toss up between Whiplash and Enter Sandman, but Whiplash is faster and therefore better.
Hawkwind – Motorhead
Although it went on to become Motörhead’s eponymous anthem, this glorious ode the amphetamines was originally written for Hawkwind, the last track Lemmy wrote for them before being kicked out of the band for getting caught with said amphetamines by Canadian customs officials. Another song best heard live, it remains perhaps the only song ever to contain the word ‘parallelogram’. The word ‘Motorhead’, incidentally, is American slang for speed-freak.
Tammy Wynette – Stand By Your Man
Technically not a Motörhead cover but a 1982 collaboration between Lemmy and Plasmatics singer Wendy O Williams recording an old country hit. Recording did not go well, with Williams taking forever to sing in tune, and Motörhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clark – who was producing the record – was not remotely amused. Indeed, this single has been blamed for Fast Eddie leaving Motörhead shortly thereafter. He must have really hated it!
Judas Priest – Breaking The Law
One can only imagine the state of Beavis And Butthead’s sofa were they ever to hear Judas Priest as covered by Motörhead. It’s the perfect choice, too, the gravel-throated frontman, bassist and legend sounding every inch the outlaw! What could be more badass than Lemmy breaking the law? Nothing, that’s what.