#1054: 1972, Hawkwind, Silver Machine

by Jackie_South on December 29, 2015

Unless you’ve been living on another planet, you will have heard that Ian Kilmister, aka Lemmy, died yesterday from an extremely aggressive canver that was only diagnosed on Boxing Day. He had turned 70 on Christmas Eve. It was a life lived to the full (he barely remembers roadie-ing for Hendrix due to his excesses at the time).

Of the many tributes today, I think John Robb got it spot on: “Lemmy’s voice and the sound of the bass guitar was exactly the same. It was a fantastic bluff gruffness which is so attractive, so hypnotic.”

What’s left of Motorhead (original drummer Phil Taylor died only a few weeks back) released a short statement, which included an instruction to “Please…play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD.
Have a drink or few.”

In that spirit, my first thoughts turned to The Ace of Spades, but we have of course already posted that. So, instead here is Hawkwind’s finest moment. As bassist, Lemmy wasn’t the first to sing this (the original singer Bob Calvert had been sectioned by the time they got round to recording it), and he was not the first choice to sing it in the studio. But when no-one else could do it justice, he took his turn as the newest member of the band at the mike and blew it away. The rest is history: his voice adds that “gruffness” to give a perfect balance to the spacey synth and psychedelically hypnotic guitars.

The song leaves the identity of the Silver Machine itself to the listener to imagine. At a time when music was fixated by space travel, Calvert actually wrote it about a bicycle.

This video was produced by Top of the Pops (it reached number 3 in the charts), based on a live performance in Dunstable (I love the bit when ‘dancer’ Stacia looks at her watch three minutes in).

Lemmy stayed with the band for another three years, before being kicked out after being arrested on the Canadian border off his head on speed. That fondness for amphetamines led of course to the name for the band he then formed: Motorhead.

Despite all the tributes today, Lemmy himself had a different take on his life: “People don’t become better when they’re dead; you just talk about them as if they are, but it’s not true! People are still arseholes, they’re just dead arseholes! … I didn’t have a really important life, but at least it’s been funny.”

Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, 1945-2015. Rest in Peace.

Born to lose. Lived to win.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Witchfinder General December 30, 2015 at 1:44 am

“Very basic music – loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speed-freak rock n roll. It will be so loud that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die”

RIP Lemmy


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