With Lemmy rightly acknowledged as a national treasure long before his tragic passing in 2015, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about Motörhead in 2021. But that wasn’t always the case. As revealed in a previously unpublished July 1981 interview with the band’s legendary frontman, printed in the new issue of Metal Hammer magazine (opens in new tab), Motörhead’s prospects looked so bleak in the mid ’70s that Lemmy actually booked a farewell show for the band before he planned to split the group.
In July 1981, days before Motörhead were to headline the Heavy Metal Holocaust festival at Port Vale FC, music writer Malcolm Dome conducted an interview with Lemmy for Ireland‘s Hot Press magazine. For reasons never explained, the article was never printed, and Dome has now dusted it off for publication in the new issue of Metal Hammer. Having just scored a number 1 album with the ferocious live set No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, Lemmy was in an ebullient mood on the day of the interview, but then as he explained to Dome, Motörhead could have ceased to exist half a decade earlier.
Lemmy’s honest admission came after the writer reminded him that, just five years before No Sleep… topped the national charts, Motörhead were voted ‘The Best Worst Band In The World’ by readers of the now defunct NME magazine.
‘Did you really think about giving up when that happened?’ Dome asked.
“We did,” Lemmy admitted. “Nothing was happening for us. We had done an album for United Artists that they refused to release [On Parole, finally issued in 1979]. It seems they expected us to do a pop album or something. What’s more, the company wouldn’t let us out of the contract with them. We’d done a single for Stiff. Leaving Here. And UA blocked its release. Twats. So we felt there was nowhere to go.”
“We even booked a farewell show at The Marquee in London and I asked Ted Carroll, who owns Chiswick Records and was a mate of mine, if he’d record this,” Lemmy continued. “Luck was on our side, because he couldn’t get the equipment to the club, and to make up for it, [he] offered us two days in the studio. We recorded the whole of the Motörhead album. That came out in ’77, because by then the contract with United Artists had run out, and suddenly we were on our way.”
Dome then asked Lemmy how he felt about the dubious accolade NME readers had bestowed upon his band.
“At least they admitted we were the best at something,” Lemmy laughed.
For the full interview with Lemmy, and features on Slipknot, Opeth, Powerwolf, and much more, pick up the new issue of Metal Hammer, which is on sale now.