Where does one even begin with the iconic, influential, and unwavering Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister? It began for me with the purchase of the MOTÖRHEAD's "No Remorse" compilation cassette in the '80s, one of those life-changing purchases. In addition to compiling the best of the Kilmister/Clarke/Taylor and Robertson era, it also introduced four new songs played by the lineup of Kilmister, Michael "Würzel" Burston, Pete Gill (SAXON), and a Welsh guitarist by the name ofPhil Campbell who would end up being the longest running member of MOTÖRHEAD, next to Lemmy. Discussions of lineups (including Mikkey Dee's entry); bad label deals; influential albums; nonstop gigging; better label deals; anniversary shows; and a 21st Century recognition jump for MOTÖRHEAD that continues to this day wouldn't even tell the full tale, and that's only the 'HEAD aspects of Lemmy's life. Filmmakers Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski took on the gargantuan task of telling Lemmy's story during the feature film and succeed in being thorough and informative without resorting to, if you'll pardon the term, overkill.
More than anything else, Olliver and Orshoski present Lemmy as the kind of down-to-earth "rock star" to which fans and admirers can feel connected. In other words, Lemmy is shown to be nothing other than human, albeit one that is also intelligent and dedicated to his craft. Lemmy's deceptively simple insights on the history of rock 'n roll (it all starts with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis), Nazi memorabilia (his collection is massive), his detailed knowledge of the first world wars, and his views on everything from the music industry to his own band and his lifelong devotion to the bachelor lifestyle. Though discussions take place in numerous locations), it is in the confines of his small — yet packed wall-to-wall with "stuff" — Los Angeles apartment or his favorite hangout, the Rainbow Bar & Grill — where Lemmy seems most at home, whether enjoying the company of his son or preparing a meal of chips (after the filmmakers cleaned his kitchen).
What may be most telling about the lives Lemmy has touched (literally and figuratively) is the heartfelt genuineness of the tributes and testimonials of stars, legends, celebrities, bar tenders, past and present MOTÖRHEAD members (Clarke's comments in particular), and the loyal road crew. James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Jason Newsted, Matt Sorum, Nikki Sixx, David Vanian, Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Henry Rollins, Slash, Joan Jett, Billy Bob Thorton (yes, that one), Triple H (remember "The Game"?), Pepper Keenan, Steve Vai, Dee Snider…the list goes on forever and every damn one of 'em has a story to tell and/or a special memory to share.
All the historical points are covered, yet done in a way that hits the important stuff and works within the overall flow of what is essentially a portrait of the man, the myth, the legend, and the musician. Covered are Lemmy's early years as a child brought up by a single mother, time spent as a member of THE ROCKIN' VICARS and HAWKWIND, his job as a roadie for JIMI HENDRIX, and of course the formation of the band for which he is best known. THE HEAD CAT, Lemmy's rockabilly band with Slim Jim Phantom (STRAY CATS) and Danny B. Harvey (LONESOME SPURS, ROCKATS) also gets screen time. All of it is fascinating as hell.
One can see why it was that Lemmy chose Olliver and Orshoski over other, more known filmmakers, for the job. Both are fans, both are down to earth and funny, and both knew to learn the ins and outs of dealing with Lemmy. The pair's discussions about making the film during one of a multitude of bonus features is almost as important to understanding Lemmy as the documentary itself. If you watch only one bonus feature, make sure it's that one. But if you're even a moderate fan, you'll not be able to keep yourself from spending three full hours watching the bonus features on Disc 2 then going back to watch the bonus live performances on Disc 1. And guess what? You'll still not be satisfied, so you'll download bonus features from the link provided in the booklet. That's but one of the many qualities that make "Lemmy" such an essential DVD; no matter how much you watch, you'll still not be able to get enough. Unless you want to nitpick technicalities, you'll find not a signal flaw in "Lemmy". The only other rating option for this one is 11.
- Scott Alisoglu