Motorhead manager Todd Singerman has revealed how Lemmy took the news of his cancer diagnosis better than anyone else.
He’d become increasingly frail on what would be the band’s final tour, and was only able to sit on the sidelines during a 70th birthday party held in his honour earlier this month.
Singerman, who’s managed Motorhead for 24 years, tells Rolling Stone: “He did no more soundchecks. He wouldn’t do interviews. He couldn’t do anything.
“But to think of the balls it took to still play shows for the fans, to do the last show two weeks ago – and then drop? That’s like a Rocky story to me. Courage at its best.
“He was dying. He didn’t know it, but his body must have felt it. He had nothing left.”
Singerman believes Lemmy never recovered from the death of former drummer Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor in November. But that was compounded after he started experiencing chest pains after the birthday party. A brain scan was ordered after friends suspected he’d had a minor stroke.
“We took him for X-rays and they said, ‘Oh my God, there’s stuff all over his brain and neck.’ On Saturday the doctor brought the results and told us that he had two to six months to live.”
Singerman continues: “He took it better than all of us. His only comment was, ‘Oh, only two months, huh?’ The doctor goes, ‘Yeah, Lem, I don’t want to bullshit you. There’s nothing anyone can do. I’d be lying if I told you there was a chance.’”
Plans were put in place to release a press statement, while medical care was arranged. Mikael Maglieri, the owner of the Rainbow Bar And Grill, brought round Lemmy’s favourite video game.
But while friends and family were being notified, Lemmy fell asleep and died. Singerman says: “Mikael called to say, ‘My God, he just died right in front of me.’”
In a separate interview, Singerman tells Sky News (opens in new tab): “Lemmy is not just pigeonholed into heavy metal. He’s literally the last true rock star. There’s not going to be many after him – I think his legacy will last forever.
“He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. The proof would be to go ask his fans. He never denied someone an autograph, he bought the fans drinks instead of them buying him drinks.
“He was the people’s man. He got it. He was approachable.”
Frontman Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister died on Monday just days after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and just four days after his 70th birthday.
The singer/bass player seemed depressed after former bandmate Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor’s death in November, but Singerman says he still gave it his best shot.
And while Motorhead’s latest run of shows saw a number of cancellations and gigs cut short by Lemmy’s ailing health, the band returned to perform for some of the fans who missed out. And that, says Singerman, is proof that Lemmy was a man of the people.
Singerman tells Sky News (opens in new tab): “He had just finished a massive tour, six weeks of touring, his last show was in Berlin on December 11. He played, but it was very difficult, but he got up there and did his thing. I thought he was on the depressed side because of Philthy dying. He just didn’t seem interested. We didn’t do sound checks.
“Some of those shows were make-up shows because we had to cancel a couple of shows and we had to come back to do them. In retrospect, he died 15 days after that last show in Berlin. He mustered up every last ounce he had in him to play those shows.
“When I think of the shows he did, it reminds of the Rocky movies, it was that kind of vibe. Just two weeks ago he didn’t know he was in trouble and had cancer, so imagine what his body’s feeling like. And here this man did everything he could to make sure he finished those shows. And who would do that? He went on and he turned on, he gave them a show. And it was a good show, every one of those shows.
“We sold out two nights in Munich and we filmed them. I remember Mikkey Dee calling me and saying, ‘Man this is one of the best shows we’ve ever played.’ That wasn’t even a month ago, and for him to be playing great, how does somebody do that?
“In hindsight we know he had cancer and he was hurting back then, so bad. And he just kept moving.”
Singerman was with Lemmy and his family when the doctor broke the news that he had terminal cancer just a few days ago.
He adds: “Nobody had an idea, we just learned two days ago that he even had cancer. The doctor told him he had between two and six months to live. And he goes today, as I was making calls to Phil and Mikkey and telling them to come out and say a last goodbye while he was still upbeat. He was feeling mighty low but he wasn’t expecting to die like that.
“On Saturday when the doctor came, we were all together and he broke the news to all of us – his son Paul, his girlfriend and a couple of people who worked with me.
“Right after his birthday party, he went in to the hospital as he wasn’t feeling good and we wanted him checked out. They literally released him and said everything was fine, but we took him for a brain scan because his speech seemed a little odd. We wondered if it was a minor stroke but we didn’t know.
“He gets home, we have a big birthday party for him at the Whisky A Go Go, a bunch of his friends came down and played. Two days later we took him to the hospital. After the brain scan they found the cancer in his brain and neck.
“That caught everybody by surprise. That was the last thing we thought he’d ever have. That came as a massive shock. He’d been to every doctor and hospital around the world and nobody caught that.”
As for Lemmy’s place in the history of rock and metal, Singerman adds that his name will live on forever.
“Lemmy is not just pigeonholed into heavy metal,” he says. “He’s literally the last true rock star, there’s not gonna be many after him. I think his legacy will last forever.
“He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. The proof would be to go ask his fans. He never denied someone an autograph, he bought the fans a drink instead of them buying him drinks. He was the people’s man. He got it, he was approachable.”