Monday, 18 August 2014

The Book Club #2: 'White Line Fever' by Lemmy

The problem with some autobiographies is that often the writer has so little of any interest to say, they just waffle and bore you to death before you get even halfway. Basically, there is little point in anyone under the age of 40 publishing their life story. But of course, as soon as one of today's bright young things sees a pile of £50 notes being waved at them, they're happy to put any old shit down in print. Sadly, the mindless public of the 21st century is more than happy to pay £15 to read about the life experiences of One Direction. As much as I cannot stand Adele, at least she resisted the temptation and turned down a book deal.

Lemmy, on the other hand, has so many stories, he could probably write an entire library worth of books. In 2002, he published his autobiography 'White Line Fever' and it's one of the most amusingly compelling books I've read. Not for Lemmy the banal space-filling gossip-mongering nonsense of most celebs, no sirree. What Lemmy gives is a relentless deluge of anecdotes, spanning his youth, growing up in North Wales and the North West of England during the 60s, seeing the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix and sleeping on Ron Wood's mum's couch! It also covers his fledgling career as a musician in Hawkwind in which he reveals he was fired, not for taking drugs, but for taking the wrong kind of drugs. While Hawkwind were all acid heads, Lemmy was a speed freak, and it was this that influenced the name of the band that takes up most of his story: Motörhead.

The book is riddled with hilarious rock 'n' roll tales, most of which make the likes of Spinal Tap and Bad News seem like serious bands by comparison. There's the time when the LAPD were called to get drummer Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor out of the hotel room he had locked himself in. He claimed he was trying to climb out the window but couldn't get through it. When the police broke through the door, they found Taylor trying to climb through the bathroom mirror!

Lemmy also tells of the time he befriended Frankie Goes To Hollywood. He attended an aftershow party during which two groupies were blowing their way through every bloke there in a relentless persuit of tracking down Frankie's bassist Mark O'Toole, unaware he had left hours earlier with his wife!

But my favourite story is on page 103. In 1980 as Motörhead were making it big, and after years of substance abuse, Lemmy decided to undergo a full blood transfusion a la Keith Richards - a way of getting clean without the bother of detox. He saw a doctor who took tests, and later broke the news of the results:

I think I read 'White Line Fever' in just two sittings. It's not a difficult read, it's actually as if Lemmy is sitting there telling you everything face-to-face. In fairness, that's probably down to his ghost writer Janiss Garza who rightly saw little need to tart things up. Lemmy has always been a 'what you see is what you get' kind of guy, so pretentious, poetic prose is clearly not something he would have been happy to put his name to.

Lemmy has steadfastly refused to pander to genres and labels, referring to his music simply as 'rock & roll'. As tales of rock & roll go, 'White Line Fever' is pretty much the yardstick against which all other rock stars should be measured. Well, unless you're Motley Crüe perhaps, but they were off the fucking scale...

Pointless giving you Ace of Spades as there cannot be a single living soul on Earth who hasn't heard that. Instead, here's one of my fave (more recent) Motörhead tracks:
Oh go on then, but you're not getting the original, that's too damn obvious. This version was made a few years ago for a beer advert the band starred in, and it's brill:

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if this is up your street but Northside are playing The Garage Music Venue Swansea on Friday 12th December 2014