24. Motörhead – Bomber

No nightfighter is going to stop us getting through.

Sirens make you shiver, you bet my aim is true.

When I was thirteen, I had a good friend at high school called Guy Makin. He was a friend and I thought he was a quiet bloke, albeit with a great sense of humour. One day I went over to his house and when he opened the door he was wearing a studded leather jacket. It was the first time I saw a school friend with a different life outside of school. He played me his favourite records, including the comedy album Ad Nauseum by ‘Derek and Clive’ (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore). The album cover was a bag of sick. I’d never heard anything like it before.



Guy played Doremi Fasol Latido by Hawkwind (sample song – Brainstorm). He informed me that the album sounds best when drunk, but instead of offering me a beer he turned the volume up so far that it made the crockery in the sideboard shake. Guy’s grandmother came hobbling down the stairs screaming at him. He ignored her.


Hawkwind played LSD-influenced heavy rock. This was very different to the Motown I’d been brought up listening to. They had released a fine record called Urban Guerilla, with lyrics like this:

I’m an urban guerilla, I make bombs in my cellar.

I’m a derilict dweller, I’m a potential killer.

In one of those unfortunate coincidences, they released it at the same time as the IRA started bombing London.

Then Guy played me some Motörhead. This was the highlight of the day’s music. Motörhead was created by Lemmy Kilmister, who was once the bass player of Hawkwind. He was too great, so they kicked him out. To stop himself getting kicked out of bands again, he made his own. They weren’t as arty as Hawkwind and had a raw, throbbing sound that hurt your ears. It is hard to categorize them as they aren’t quite metal or hard rock. They have a singular sound that hasn’t dated – it is still as offensive as it was in 1981.

Look at the audience in this clip. They have no idea what to make of Motörhead nor what to do with themselves. Play this now and they’d be banging their heads and moshing and people would be singing “It’s Obama, it’s Obama” instead of “It’s a bomber, it’s a bomber.”

Lemmy was a guitarist before he was a bass player and he uses simple guitar chords. It throws out a lot of treble and gives a drone to Motörhead’s distinctive sound.

The band became British rock icons. In an interview, Lemmy said that if Motörhead moved next door to you, your lawn would die. I don’t know what Guy listens to today, but he’s out there in England. He sent me some mail one evening when he was drunk looking up old friends. Ah, the magic of the internet.

[I hope you all notice the care I took in putting the umlauts in the name ‘Motörhead’.]



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