Lemmy: I’d still be in Hawkwind if they hadn’t fired me
Lemmy Kilmister was so happy being a member of Hawkwind that he’d still be in the band today if they hadn’t fired him.
He joined the space rockers in 1971, playing bass for the first time during his debut appearance with them. Four years later he was fired after being arrested in Canada for possession of drugs. That’s when he formed Motorhead, the band he’s led for 37 years.
But despite a few personality clashes, Lemmy says he felt at home in Hawkwind.
He tells Classic Rock Revisited: “I wasn’t thinking about leaving. I would have never left them. It was a great band to be in – on stage at least.
“I didn’t get on with a couple of them off stage, but that didn’t matter because we didn’t spend all our time together.
“I really found myself as an instrumentalist in Hawkwind. Before that I was just a guilt player who was pretending to be good, when actually I was no good at all. In Hawkwind I became a good bass player. It was where I learned I was good at something.”
Lemmy insists he didn’t form Motorhead as an act of vengeance. “What was I going to do?” he asks. “I had to put another band together. I was so sick of getting fired that I decided to put my own band together so I couldn’t be fired ever again.”
His band has lived through several lineup changes over the years, although the current three-piece with guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee has remained steady since 1992.
Asked how the Motorhead of today compares with its classic era featuring ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke and Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor, Lemmy says: “This band is tighter – but I don’t know if there is as much feel. We were very sloppy before, and now we’re not sloppy. Then again, sometimes the old band was tight.”
Despite being the subject of an acclaimed movie, he still considers himself as an underdog. “We still don’t get enough credit,” he reflects. “We don’t sell out in America, and we’re still third on the bill on most tours. There’s still something to fight for.”