The legacy of Lemmy lives on
By Jon Liebman
Week of December 21, 2020
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know I’m all about how the role of the bass player is, for the most part, a supportive role, laying down the foundation for the band.
Sometimes, though, a bass player comes along who, in addition to “just” supporting the band, attains iconic status as well.
In this week’s interview, FBPO contributor Gary Graff goes one-on-one with Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell, who looks back on the life and career of the one and only Lemmy Kilmister, as we approach the five-year anniversary of the iconic Motörhead frontman’s passing.
What makes a bass icon?
In some cases, it’s unadulterated bass chops (Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke). Or it could be crooning and songwriting (Peter Cetera, Sting), brash, fearless marketing (Gene Simmons), or just being a rock star (Geddy Lee).
In Lemmy’s case, it was how he always injected his bigger-than-life personality into everything he did, including his full-throttle bass playing. “Nobody plays bass like that,” Campbell says. “You’re playing chords and he’s whacking it with a plectrum and it’s loud as shit.”
Lemmy seemed to pour his heart and soul into everything, including playing bass. “It was just a unique technique,” Campbell continues, “and totally in the pocket. That’s what used to keep us on time every night.”
Anyone who achieves that level of status is bound to leave some kind of legacy. What do people think of when they hear Lemmy’s name? Is it his belting out “Ace of Spades” like nobody else could ever do? Maybe it’s picturing him enjoying one of his signature “Jack & Coke” cocktails.
“I want him to be remembered as a strong, healthy character,” says Campbell. “He was great. He was always on the money when he played since day one. That never changed.”
Playing well is important for any bassist. Sometimes bass players are remembered for more than their bass playing. Lemmy is one of those people.
How about you? Have a thought on the subject? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. In the meantime, check out Gary’s interview with Phil here.