Mick Wall: Lemmy: The Definitive Biography

Former Classic Rock Ed In Chief delivers heartfelt biog of the fallen icon.

Lemmy: The Definitive Biography book cover

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As the shocking news of Lemmy’s passing filtered through in the final days of 2015, Mick Wall was already hard at work on this biography. In fact work on the book began back in the late 90s when Wall got wind that Lemmy was in serious health trouble – the kind of troubles that you don’t come back from.

But come back he did, going onto enjoy another nigh-on two decades of the kind of X-rated antics and hard rock survival detailed throughout the book.

This near 300-page collection of stories and quotes underlines once more that with Lemmy, what you saw was what you got. There were no stage clothes or fabricated persona, he lived this life and he lived it damn well for 70 years.

While his 2002 autobiography White Line Fever remains essential reading, here Wall cuts to the heart of who Lemmy really was. He does so thanks to an all-star cast and a treasure trove of interviews with the man himself. We’re treated to insights from former Hawkwind bandmates, Motörhead members and managers from down the decades, mega fans like Lars Ulrich and rock journos Dave Ling and Mörat who, like Wall himself, counted Lemmy as a friend, not just an interviewee.

This gloriously motley crew guides the reader through milestone after milestone of Lemmy’s life. From the childhood rejection he felt from his father to early bands and, of course, Motörhead. Oh yes, so much Motörhead. The band’s rise to mainstream stardom, dramatic fall and subsequent journey to genuine legend status is here in loving, in-depth detail.

There’s also enough sex to make Vince Neil blush (including Lemmy recounting the summer he shagged his way through an entire school of ballerinas) and mountainous piles of drugs to go with the pages upon pages of rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s not all wall-to-wall debauchery though, there’s lots here to bring a lump to your throat, particularly the final chapters in which our hero stares death in the face time after time. Before that there’s illuminating insight into Lemmy’s personal relationships. Here, Wall refreshingly refuses to re-paint Lemmy as anything other than what he was – a self- confessed loner who had zero interest in settling down as a family man and instead lived for Motörhead. In that respect Lemmy… is as unflinching, forthright and full of wry humour as the man himself, and there’s little praise greater than that.

Rich Chamberlain

Rich Chamberlain has written for Classic Rock, Musicradar.com, Total Guitar, Nuts, FourFourTwo, Billboard, Classic Rock Presents The Blues and Classic Rock Presents Country.