It was a pilgrimage for many; head to the Sunset Strip and spot Lemmy at his second home, in the corner of the Rainbow Bar & Grill, playing video poker, drink in hand. Hair metal may have long been the defining image of the Strip, but Lemmy remained a constant in the Rainbow long after a million Crüe wannabes disappeared into a sea of smeared eyeliner and soiled spandex.
Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum can attest to Lemmy’s iconic status on the Strip, the two having shared many a drink on this debauchery-laden mile-and-a-half stretch of iconic bars and neon lights.
“We always saw each other on the Strip,” says Matt. “He loved the Rainbow, it was his home away from home. His life was rock’n’roll and the road and the ’Bow was the closest thing to that feeling. He loved his fans and never had a problem saying hello to them. He was a true gentleman.”
The Strip was his home away from home
Matt, who helped put on Lemmy’s 70th birthday party back in December at another Strip haunt, the Whisky, recalls one particular evening that taps into the very essence of the man.
“The best time on the Strip we had was Halloween a few years ago. I went by his apartment and he had all these military outfits. He gave me an East German officer outfit, he dressed as a cowboy, and we walked down Sunset to the Rainbow. In retrospect, I was just dressed like him and he was a Bandito cowboy anyway in real life. He was the coolest of cool.”
What made Lemmy the most iconic of all Sunset Strip icons? It wasn’t just that he chugged whisky like you wouldn’t believe at the Rainbow night after night. No, he wasn’t some drink-swilling caricature. He was the wiser-than-wise road warrior to whom metallers, rockers, punks and more flocked onto the Strip to share a drink and take advice. Matt reckons he knows why Lemmy became the all-knowing godfather of the Strip.
“You could feel his truth, the music, his image; he stuck to what he believed in and never wavered with trends. It was honest and unapologetic, while at the same time he was intelligent. When he made a statement, you listened like he was the school headmaster. He had that presence.”
You’ll struggle to find anyone arguing that Lemmy was anything but the real deal, including Mikeal Maglieri Jr, current owner of the Whisky and the Rainbow, who paid tribute to his bar’s most famous customer by saying: “Lemmy will always be in our hearts. He was the greatest patron the Rainbow ever had and we will do all we can to honour his memory for the rest of our lives. May he rest in peace.”
Rock’n’roll’s favourite drink owes its status to the Lemster
As news of Lemmy’s death broke, social media became awash with memes and spoof news sites claiming the loss had forced Jack Daniel’s to file for bankruptcy. While this was obviously bollocks, rock’s most iconic whisky brand does owe Lemmy a huge debt. The ever-present glass of the stuff glued in ￼Lemmy’s hand helped make a Jack and Coke the rock’n’roll drink. In recent years he switched to vodka and orange, for health reasons, but that link between Lemmy and his favourite tipple cannot be broken. He helped make that drink synonymous with rock’n’roll. It’s no surprise a petition has launched to get a Jack and Coke renamed ‘The Lemmy’. It has our full support.