Song: “Killed by Death,” by Motorhead
I leave for L.A. this week. My to-visit list includes the Whisky, Canter’s Deli, and of course, the Rainbow, where I was dearly hoping to run into Lemmy. I was thinking about this plan and, you know, the possibility of us becoming best friends yesterday evening. An hour later, the news broke that Lemmy had passed away.
I’m not going to pretend to know a ton about Motorhead — my taste runs a little lighter — but I’ve always liked Lemmy. How could you not? He’s the best part of Decline of Western Civilization Part II, skewering his interview questions like the baddest man on the mountain, which he was. (The other best part is Faster Pussycat, both the music and their interviews, particularly the sweet, innocent faces made when asked if they do drugs.) Lemmy embodied metal. He was rock and roll: snarling, growling, unapologetic, mutton-chopped rock and roll.
So to celebrate all that he brought us and the life he lived, I figured we’d take a look at “Killed by Death.” This is pretty much the darkest possible title, but to eschew a video that so prominently features a pair of pants that elegantly straddles the line between zebra print leggings and zubaz because it the title might be unbecoming in this situation is very un-Lemmy.
The video opens in a very traditional square parents, kid who wants to rock way, except this this house much colder than you see in other videos and I am pretty sure Dianne Wiest’s sister plays the mom.
So the parents are like, hell no you are not going out until you figure your fashion tape situation and explain those pants, but hahaha mom and dad, joke’s on you and we hope you know the name of a good contractor:
Because Lemmy is not leaving through the hole he came in from.
So the two go tear-assing off into the night, practicing what can only be called terrible motorcycle safety, but because Lemmy is a god, he reaches back a few times to make sure she’s still there.
Complicating matters is the fact that Lemmy is on the lam. We’re not sure what his crime is; probably just being intimidatingly better than everyone. I suppose if you had the means to chase Lemmy down to possibly replicate or study him, you’d take it, but these duders seem to have more nefarious purposes.
This brings us to a face-off between a firing squad and Lemmy and his rogue band of pals, and I’m sorry, but like how much money would you have paid to see a Robin Hood remake with exactly this casting? Maid Marian in those pants? Robin Hood eating the rich and giving to the poor? That truly inspired lip-synching? How did the ball get dropped on this?
So it turns out that this video was banned by MTV, according to the internet and also Rolling Stone because of excessive and senseless violence — the whole firing squad thing and also, when that doesn’t work, an electric chair, which is helpfully previewed for the faint of heart by Motorhead’s excellent use of picture-in-picture:
They think the electric chair is enough to take out Lemmy. They even hold a funeral, attended by (I think) the Women on Wheels motorcycle association (yeah, I googled) and the previously disparaging, now chagrined parents of Lemmy’s ladyfriend, who is still wearing her special pants, which means this all happened in a day or she really loves this outfit. I’m fine with either.
And then, well, here’s where it feels a little prescient, where I get a little maudlin. Just when you think it’s over, Lemmy bursts from the ground on his motorcycle, grabs his girl and his friends, and speeds off into the night. 30 years later, it seems impossible that this isn’t how it ends.
Here’s to you, Lemmy.