Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Motorhead: Overkill

In the past few years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has inducted the likes of Chicago, KISS, Cheap Trick, the Steve Miller Band, the Moody Blues, Yes, Journey, ELO... I mean, Deep Purple, really? They barely had any hits, or even a stable lineup. It seems as if any testosterone-heavy band with a modicum of artistic ambition that was popular in the 1970s is in danger of getting inducted.

That brings us to Motorhead, formed in 1975. They certainly weren't the worst band of their era, but their cultural impact here in the U.S. has been practically nil, aside from Freaks-like gaping at head honcho Lemmy Kilmister. Like Judas Priest, they were adored by Beavis and Butt-Head, and to be fair, they were better than the Priest. But not by much.

What Makes Them Different Lemmy was an enormous, mutton-chopped, multiple-warted frontman/bassist, and you were never going to mistake him for anyone else. "Kilmister" was his real last name, although "Lemmy" wasn't his real first name. He once said he didn't know how he got the nickname "Lemmy," and I believe him.

Lemmy was sort of a K-Mart version of Keith Richards - he claimed to have drunk a bottle of Jack Daniel's every day, was addicted to speed, and said he had slept with more than 1,000 women. He also collected (and repeatedly defended himself for collecting) Nazi memorabilia. His death, in 2015 at the age of 70, was the result of a combo platter of prostate cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure, making him also sort of a K-Mart version of Rasputin.

Motorhead's tribute record "R.A.M.O.N.E.S." cements the key connection between roaring heavy metal and speedy, pogo-able punk. It's also a really good single (and in true Ramones fashion, only 87 seconds long).

They weren't the first band to have an umlaut in their name - near as I can tell, that would be Blue Oyster Cult - but they were one of the first. No, I'm not going to use it here.

Lemmy also wrote the lyrics to Ozzy Osbourne's biggest pop hit, "Mama, I'm Coming Home," if you go for that sort of thing.

By the Numbers Motorhead never had a single reach even the U.S. Hot 100, much less the Top Forty. Prior to the last decade, when albums could chart while selling 5,000 copies, their highest-charting LP on the U.S. charts was 1916 (featuring "R.A.M.O.N.E.S."), which went to No. 142 in 1991.

Will They Get In? Motorhead is almost the definition of a cult band, although Lemmy's notoriety extends beyond the band's actual cultural footprint. I can't see that their cult has enough members to get them in.

Should They Get In? I have been listening to Motorhead while writing this entry. Remember when I said they were better than Judas Priest? I may have been wrong. I vote NO for Motorhead.

2 comments:

  1. This nomination is positive proof that the Hall of Fame has run out of artists (and I use the word very loosely in this case) to induct. What a stupid nomonation.

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