Ozzy Osbourne has told Classic Rock in a new interview that he spoke to Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister on the morning that the iconic MOTÖRHEAD frontman passed away.
Lemmy, who celebrated his 70th birthday on December 24, 2015, learned two days later that he was afflicted with an aggressive form of cancer. He died two days later, on December 28, 2015, at his home in Los Angeles.
Speaking with Classic Rock for the magazine's 300th issue, Ozzy recalled his final conversation with his longtime friend.
"He was a good man, Lemmy was," Ozzy said. "All the guys from MOTÖRHEAD have gone now, from the original band. It's hard to lose anyone you love. I was talking to Lemmy on the morning that he died, but I couldn't understand what he was talking about. I wanted to talk to someone else who was there, but they kept giving the phone to Lemmy."
A day after Lemmy's death, Ozzy talked about the MOTÖRHEAD frontman's passing on SiriusXM's Ozzy's Boneyard. At the time, Osbourne said: "[MOTÖRHEAD and Ozzy's solo band] did South America together in April , and then I noticed he didn't look too well. I remember saying to him, 'Are you okay?' And he said, 'I've got kidney problems.' I didn't realize he was as sick as he was."
"[His death] left a big hole in rock and roll. Lemmy was not only my friend, he was everybody's friend.
"I knew he was ill for a long time, and even when Phil [Taylor, former MOTÖRHEAD drummer] died a couple of months [earlier]. I wouldn't speak to him too much; I'd correspond with him on text. And I said to him, 'Sorry to hear about Phil. You must be sad. If there's anything I can do, please let me know.' And he texted me back saying, 'Thanks for caring.' I would always keep a correspondence with Lemmy. Lemmy was a dear friend of mine. A good man. A good guy.
"The industry has lost a rock and roll hero. He was what rock and roll was all about. He lived the lifestyle. And I can't tell you how sad we all are. I'm sad that he died. I'm really sad that he died. In my life, it's such a terrible loss for me. I mean, I think more about Lemmy than most people I've lost."
He continued: "I was saying to my wife this morning… He worked right up to the very end, and I honestly think it was important for him to keep going. If he hadn't been doing more gigs and traveling… His band must be fucking brokenhearted. I'm so glad I'm not in his band; I wouldn't know how to fucking handle it. But he worked to the bitter end. And I think it was the reason that he got out of bed every day. Had he said, 'I'm sick. I'm not doing it anymore,' perhaps he would have died quicker. But I'm sad that he died when he did. I really am.
"If somebody were to say to me, 'Which one person would you say epitomizes sex, drugs and rock and roll?' And it would have to be Lemmy Kilmister. He was everything that people think.
"I don't drink anymore, I don't do dope anymore… I don't do any of that stuff. It gets you in the end. But Lemmy says to me, 'If I didn't drink and have fun in my life, I probably wouldn't live that long; I'm gonna be bored shitless. So I'm living my life like I wanna live it.' And he lived on his own most of the time, apart from when he had a girlfriend there. But most of the time, he lived on his own."
Ozzy added: "I will never forget Lemmy. He was a very influential guy in my life. He wrote me a bunch of lyrics. I remember when I was doing the 'No More Tears' album, and he wrote me a bunch of lyrics for that album. I think he wrote lyrics to 'Mama, I'm Coming Home', 'Hellraiser'…"
Osbourne also talked about why he connected so much with Lemmy. He said: "[Lemmy] was born not far from Liverpool, I believe. And he loved THE BEATLES. I loved THE BEATLES. He was really interested in World War II. I was really interested in World War II. And I would buy German daggers. I even got him [Adolf] Hitler's autograph at one point, I think. But it wasn't that we were Nazi [sympathizers]. It was just the fact that we were both born around that time in England, and we grew up in the environment of post-War… just as the war had finished. Lemmy was born at the end of '45, you know. And he was very knowledgeable about a lot of things. He was so well read. You would look at Lemmy and you would think he was a yob who didn't know shit about anything, and that couldn't be any further away from the truth, if you tried. 'Cause Lemmy was… He would read books quicker than you could read a newspaper. He knew so much about so many things in the history."
He went on to say: "If someone was to say to me, 'Ozzy, what one person would you say you identify your music with?' And I would have to say Lemmy from MOTÖRHEAD. MOTÖRHEAD were far bigger than they realized they were, I think. But Lemmy was a simple guy. He lived just around the corner from the Rainbow [in West Hollywood]. I said, 'Why do you live there?' He goes, 'You know why? Because I can get out and walk around to the Rainbow, sit at the Rainbow and I don't have to drive. I don't wanna drive.'"
Lemmy had dealt with several health issues in the few years before his death, including heart trouble, forcing him to cut back on his famous smoking and Jack Daniel's habits.
The band was forced to cancel a number of shows in 2015 due to Lemmy's failing health, although they did manage to complete one final European tour just two weeks prior to his passing.