Why this man wants the new heavy metal element to be called Lemmium

Recently four new super-heavy elements were added to the periodic table which has delighted fans of metal and tables everywhere. It also sparked the imagination of Motörhead fan John Wright who has launched a petition to name one of the new heavy metals after Lemmy.

John Wright who works in cricket “trying to make sure everyone who plays, attends or follows the game gets a great experience,” started the petition via Change.org and at the time of writing has amassed 146,728 signatures. These names will then be passed on to the International Union Of Pure And Applied Chemistry. But why did John decide to mark the memory of Lemmy in this way?

John Wright – the man behind the Lemmium campaign

John Wright – the man behind the Lemmium campaign

Hi there, John Wright! Why did you decide to launch the Lemmium campaign?
“Like a lot of people I was massively affected by the news of Lem’s passing, we knew he wasn’t well but he just seemed indestructible, a road warrior and I just wanted to do something to say I thought we had lost a true star and we should be looking at how to commemorate his life. I was listening to the radio and they were talking about the discovery of new heavy metals and someone joked that they should call it Lemmium and I was just struck. I thought that isn’t a joke, it is a brilliant suggestion! A couple of tweets later I knew others agreed and I launched the petition.”

Are you a big Motörhead fan?
“Yes of course, they came at the right time for me, I was too young for punk, but I was 11 when Ace Of Spades blasted into our world on Top Of The Pops and that was it from then on. I remember seeing them for the first time and not being able to hear in school the next day – which was perfect as I wasn’t interested in the lessons anyway.

“As I got older I began to understand what an important musical figure he was with his roots from beat group/R&B, psychedelia, roadying for Hendrix and then into Hawkwind, for a brilliant period of creativity from Doremi to Warrior On The Edge Of Time, and then Motörhead. So yes, he is one of my heroes. My wife isn’t keen so it is more often in car or headphones these days, but I think they just came at the right time for me. Awful, of course, that we lost Philthy a few weeks earlier too – I could weep.”

What will happen if/when the petition reaches 150,000 signatures?
“Well it would feel like a huge achievement for a start, but nothing directly – there isn’t a trigger number when the International Union Of Pure And Applied Chemistry, who do the naming, would automatically agree to name element 115, Lemmium. I wish there was, it would make our life a lot easier, but the bigger the number we reach the more we can demonstrate that it would be a very popular decision if they did. On a more day-to-day level it allows us to go back to the media and hopefully get some more coverage, and it is brilliant that Metal Hammer is behind us.”

A lot of big names have offered their support, were you expecting the campaign to pick up this kind of traction?
“I think if you had said: ‘Do you think that there will be an online tribute to Lem that an awful lot of people will get behind?’, I would have said yes, but never expected it would be ours. Big names are hugely important to the success, visibility and momentum of the campaign. Having Duff McKagan get behind us was a ticket to the big league, a lot of people don’t realise that when Duff got behind us the survey had about 30 signatures, within three days that hit 100,000 so I think it is fair to say that it was incredibly helpful to us and don’t tell Slash but I always thought Duff was the coolest one in the band, so personally I was delighted. Obviously there is still time for other people to get behind us and the more momentum we generate the more likely that is to happen.”

How did it feel having Professor Brian Cox give his backing?
“Brilliant and really cool – he’s everyone’s favourite scientist, isn’t he? Our chances of success really rest on our ability to demonstrate that the naming of the element Lemmy will stimulate more interest in science and chemistry, and I think we have already shown that. We received coverage all over the world this week across the media, and every article included an explanation of what the periodic table is and what is a heavy metal. We are really interested in using the campaign to get more kids interested in science and technology so I think we are on the same page as Prof Brian Cox – I still have to pinch myself, though.”

Lemmy didn’t identify as metal, should this have been a hard rock instead?
“Well it is funny you should say that. It has already been suggested that it’s far easier to get other things named; and rocks, minerals, stars etc fit into that category, but our focus is on the hardest to achieve because it is worth the most – if we pull this off it is forever. It’s a permanent tribute and if that isn’t worth grafting for I don’t know what is. I know people’s views on the Motörhead weren’t metal and I respect that, but it seemed perfect and to be honest it’s the naming of the metal that has caught people’s imagination, so I think he would forgive me for putting it out there. We also want to say that we were truly humbled when Dixon, one of Lemmy’s assistants, gave his support during the memorial service and Phil had tweeted his support, so if the Motörhead family are happy then what else matters?”

Do you think the name will change to Lemmium?
“I think they have to name it something, and until that name is announced I will believe it is possible. We have a long way to go but what a journey, I feel blessed. I think that Lem would have a good laugh, but would say make sure you make something good happen as a result of this and that’s exactly what we intend to do. Cheers Lem.”

Support the Lemmium campaign by signing the petition here.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.