“Without him, there would be no Metallica.” See James Hetfield’s new Motörhead tattoo with Lemmy’s ashes in it

Pictures of James Hetfield and Lemmy
(Image credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images | Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Metallica singer/guitarist James Hetfield has got some new ink paying tribute to Lemmy Kilmister – and it contains the late Motörhead mainstay’s ashes!

Hetfield revealed his new tattoo on Metallica’s Instagram page today (April 17), saying he got it on the middle finger of his right hand so that the famously noisy and rebellious Lemmy “is still able to fly the bird at the world”.

“With the steady hand of friend and tattoo artist @coreymillertattoo, this tattoo,” Hetfield wrote.

“A salute to my friend and inspiration Mr. Lemmy Kilmister. Without him, there would be NO Metallica.

“Black ink mixed with a pinch of his cremation ashes that were so graciously given to me.

“So now, he is still able to fly the bird at the world.”

Hetfield has frequently cited Lemmy – who died in 2015, age 70, shortly after being diagnosed with prostate cancer – as a key influence on Metallica.

Metallica’s 2016 album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct, contained a song paying tribute to Lemmy called Murder One, named after the Motörhead lynchpin’s favourite amplifier.

“I loved being murdered every night by that thing,” Hetfield explained at the time.

“He was just such an icon, such an inspiration to us as a band.”

He continued: “There’s certainly no way we’d be around if there was no Motörhead. And, you know, to see your idol, your immortal one, actually be mortal, it hit us pretty hard.

“So I felt, lyrically, it makes sense to acknowledge him and how much he’s meant in our lives.”

Hetfield’s middle finger is far from the only far-flung place that Lemmy’s some of ashes have ended up.

Last month, it was announced that some of the Motörhead man’s remains will be displayed annually at Derbyshire metal festival Bloodstock Open Air every August.

When not on site, those ashes will live at the Rock City venue in nearby Nottingham.

Motörhead’s manager, Todd Singerman, commented: “Bloodstock has always been a special place for Motörhead and for Lemmy. The people and the energy matched Lemmy’s values perfectly.

“Alan [Hungerford, festival organiser] and Vicky [Hungerford, owner, director and band booker] were also great friends, and basically family of Lemmy, as he was the reason that they originally got together.

“This is definitely a fitting honour in the continuing series of enshrinements of Lemmy’s ashes in his most loved places.”

More of Lemmy’s ashes were placed into bullets at his own request and sent to some of the musician’s closest friends, including Judas Priest singer Rob Halford.

Some of his remains have also been scattered at German metal festival Wacken Open Air.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.