As Lemmy’s old mucker Charles Dickens nearly said, this week was the best of times and the worst of times for Motörhead. On Wednesday, there was the surreal spectacle of British rock ‘n’ roll’s perennial underdog outlaws and dirty-trousered daughter-spoilers being praised by the Los Angeles political establishment, with a special resolution to mark the 40th year since Lemmy first pulled together a trio of reprobates to make an antisocial racket in the wake of being fired from Hawkwind for the wrong kind of drug offences. Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee and long-time LA resident Lemmy were guests of honour in council chambers, where cheering Motörheadbangers thronged the public benches as councillor and Motörhead fan Jose Huizar announced: “Throughout 40 years, this is a band that stuck to its artistic guns and has never been interested in musical fads and trends… Let me present to Motörhead, legends of rock ‘n’ roll, this resolution on behalf of the city of Los Angeles and our mayor, thanking you for what you have done and for keeping alive the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.” Lemmy responded: “Seeing as none of us are from Los Angeles, this is a very great honour. He’s Swedish, he’s Welsh and I’m English. I came over here years ago and I love it over here, so it’s a great honour for me.” Mickey Dee added: “We’re gonna continue for another 40 years, I hope.”
The presentation was meant to be the ideal curtain-raiser for the release of Motörhead’s 22nd album, Bad Magic, on Friday. However, in the short interim period the ceremony was overshadowed by another worrying onstage breakdown for Lemmy (who astonishingly turns 70 on Christmas Eve). After cranking out Damage Case, Stay Clean, We Are Motorhead and a cover of Thin Lizzy’s version of Bob Seger’s Rosalie in Salt Lake City, Utah, the iconic frontman admitted to the audience that he was having difficulty breathing, and the set came to a premature end. Explaining that the problem was caused by the city’s altitude – Salt Lake City is 4,200 feet above sea level – the band quickly moved to cancel an even higher gig in Denver. “The people are great, but the air is just too thin,” said the band in a subsequent statement. “The high altitude makes it difficult for breathing, and that’s what happened with Lemmy tonight in Salt Lake City. He feels very bad to have cut the show short, but being that high up, he had some trouble breathing well. Lemmy appreciates everyone’s concern. The fans always rally round!” It’s tempting to conclude, with his recent history of onstage health failures and his relentless work rate, that Lemmy’s final ambition is to die onstage, but let’s hope it’s a way off yet.
In other rock legend news this week, Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler has joined a collaborative music project aiming to promote world peace by bringing together musicians from war-torn conflict zones around the world, building on musical contributions by a diverse variety of celebrated artists like Geezer, minimalist composer Philip Glass, sitar player Anoushka Shankar (daughter of raga pioneer Ravi) and Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor. The efforts have been spearheaded by anti-violence charity International Alert, whose director of communications Ilaria Bianchi sagely states: “Collaboration is key to music making, but it’s also integral to peace-building. Through this project, we hope to demonstrate the opportunities that music and technology open up for building new relationships across borders and cultures, and sparking conversations about important global issues.” The project, entitled Peace Tracks, will go online on September 8th.
Almost as important as securing world peace is the fact that Iron Maiden this week revealed their new online video game, based on the platform-scaling adventures of the 8-bit Eddie in the fantastic Speed Of Light video. In other life-affirming Maiden news, the band unveiled the biggest ever Ed Force One, a Boeing 747-400 which singer-pilot Bruce Dickinson is currently learning how to fly for The Book Of Souls tour in 2016, which will visit 35 countries across six continents. Bruce also confessed this week that retiring from music is very far from his mind: “I really hope that this is not the last album. I’ve had way too much fun making this one. I’m gonna have way too much fun and enjoy the next tour for a variety of reasons.”