A friend pointed out to me this week we are living in a generation of dying icons. He added immediately after stating this;
“I don’t like it. Not one bit.”
It is a bold, but devastatingly true sentiment.
We are living in world where attention spans are getting shorter, where millions of people are vying for their snapshot of fame – no longer fifteen minutes – but 6 seconds (VINE) or ten seconds (instagram) will do…
Anything for that fleeting moment of “love” from an audience always looking for the next big thing, the next fad and trend, the next step on the devolution of mankind. Stepping stones to our inevitable backwards dance to the primordial goo we will no doubt one day all turn into, if we continue this lazy, lackadaisical waltz to irrelevance.
Then… From nowhere – BOOM.
We lose two absolutely irreplaceable and incomparable legends in the space of two weeks. And collectively, planet-wide, we shake off the malaise and the cobwebs of reality TV, of 140 Character addiction, of plastic Popstars performing forgettable advertisements for un-needed products we will never truly have use for and shall forget in two years time, and we hold our mouths in shock and we wonder how this can happen…
How can these men be dead?
How is it possible? And more terrifyingly, if they are gone, then – Jesus – they could all go.
All of them.
All of the Legends.
The Waits, and the Pops, the Richards and the Jaggers.
No one is immortal. Not in flesh and blood anyway. No matter how invincible we have built these heroes and icons to be in our lives. No matter how towering or significant or immeasurably important they may be in our hearts and minds…
If Lemmy can die. If Bowie can die…
We can all die.
No one can live forever.
This is not a new notion. Lets not kid ourselves.
When Freddie Mercury died we threw the biggest party on Earth to try and remember his memory. But, in the back of all our minds we were still dazed and confused how this timeless, unique voice could be gone.
It will happen again. We know it will, but… For now, right now – at this exact moment, we are allowed to forget this and simply dwell in memoriam for two of the most incredible humans to ever walk the Rockstar road.
Gone way before we were ready for them to board the train and start their next journey… Or, in Bowie’s case, get on his spaceship and return to his Home planet.
David Bowie was a man who I had an incredible affinity too.
A quiet hero worship went on behind closed doors between myself and my perception of the man. His many guises, his “chameleonic” nature (to use the well coined phrased.) His boundary bursting bravery, his spirit of adventure and his seemingly absolute lack of ego in interviews.
A man who seemed genuinely born to be “everything to everyone” – every single person on this green Earth could find something to love about Bowie and his life. A character or song, a smile or a nod, a wink or a whispered secret to Tina Turner (that’s my abiding memory… That Cheeky video of the two sharing a stage and a flirt, oblivious of the thousands of souls watching.)
The man was iconic in fashion, life, love, gender and identity.
An absolute trailblazer of human nature, music and art – and he lived amongst us – we shared time and oxygen and a world with this monolith of humanity??
How lucky we all are.
His death, like his life, was enigmatic and played by his own rules and his own tune. Riddles hidden amongst the lyrics or his last two albums – THE NEXT DAY and BLACKSTAR will be poured over and analysed for years.
I believe he knew around the time of the former that he was unwell – and he used every ounce of whatever he had left to create, release and enjoy the more than deserved success of the latter.
Then... he lay down, with his family and nearest and dearest around him, and he…
Went about his way.
Two-shoe shuffling into the great beyond, his white jacket with arms rolled up and his blonde hair now grey with his 69 years on the planet catching the moonlight…
As he danced his dance into the ether, recreating the end of “Dancing In The Street.” Laughing all the way into the forever after. …
Or maybe Ziggy finally boarded his ship, and left for his own world, a tearful look back on Earth.
This time not to fall, but to soar into the unknown and the great beyond…
Just maybe, he allowed the human side to take him quietly, poignantly and gently. Holding the hand of his son, staring lovingly into his wife’s eyes, smiling as he slipped gently into the shadow of eternity. His mind and body gone. Not immortal, after all.
But his songs, his legacy and his name – here forever.
A burning beacon of unstoppable, unquenchable, eternal light for every artist, creator, musician and human to follow. That’s what I would like to believe.
I am so very sad he is gone. We took him for granted whilst he was here. We never thought, not for a second, he would go.
He couldn’t – he was Stardust. And stardust will fade, and it will dim, but soon it will coalesce into some new form, and shine as bright as it ever once did.
His songs played on the radio and on TV, he smiled that smile, and those two beautiful eyes shone from posters and billboards.
He was as much a part of our day as breathing and blinking…
Somewhere in the world, one of his songs was always playing – some how or someway.
So we never once thought or dared to think he would go. And now he has.
But – he left an album of some magnificent beauty and poignancy only days before his passing – an album that, even with the inevitable rose-tinted glasses on after his death – was a powerhouse of creativity and fire, of hunger and of genuine, total brilliance.
He gave the fans and lovers a video that can be unlocked as his eulogy to himself and them in LAZARUS – and his legacy and catalogue and body of work is a treasure trove of some of the greatest songs ever written and performed, recorded or released.
The Thin White Duke.
The Man Who Fell to Earth…
A great, great man.
My god he will be missed.
The title of "LEGEND" gets banded around like a badge of honour to every Johnny Come Lately and his brother in this day and age...
So quick are we to idolise and hoist up mediocrity to a level above all others...
But we forget we live in an era where there is an entire generation of rockstars and movie-stars who are in the autumn years and we are watching icon after icon pass away from causes both natural and man-made.
All of which are truly fitting of the title and the description given to wannabes and losers whose only skill is too oil up muscles and sleep with a tonne of idiots, or make utter fools of themselves in public... Never once committing any act that deserves our respect or our worship.
Despite it all, the people who do deserve the attention, the idolatry and our unwavering love often are seen as bulletproof and immortal. There is always a feeling that some of these people we hold in such ridiculously high esteem will transcend biology and human condition, and live forever and ever in infamy and - despite the pompousness of the idea - real, genuine legend.
Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister was one such person.
An institute, an icon, a genuine figurehead for millions of people in a subculture that bled into every facet of modern fame, life and iconography.
If you showed a picture of him to one hundred people in the street - my bet is that 90% of them - OR MORE - would know either his name, his band or could name a song of his.
He WAS heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Rock'N'Roll - he embodied it for 40 plus years - an unwavering, unmovable, unshakeable mountain of joy, passion and love for the art-form.
Seeping into every corner of the zeitgeist.
Lemmy was the king of rock for as long as i knew guitar based heavy rock.
He was the king.
One of the first songs I remember my dad ever playing for me, trying to excite me into a love of music, was "SILVER MACHINE" by Hawkwind.
Alongside songs like "Parisienne Walkways" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" it was a mainstay on all my dads’ mixtapes, he would make onto tapes recorded off of vinyl records.
We would sing it in the car on journeys, near or far.
Screaming the lyrics loud and proud.
As we would years later to "ACE OF SPADES" a song that is as culturally significant as any Beatles song, any Rolling Stones track... An inarguable fact.
Lemmy was in my life from a very, very early age.
And he has, and will remain in it for years... If not forever.
From my ears ringing for two days after seeing Motorhead on the second stage at Download Festival, to the man himself showing up in rock films like Airheads through to Sci-fi classics like HARDWARE.
He was a monolith, universally respected, universally loved and forever speaking his mind devoid of any waffle or censorship.
An absolute, unconditional, inarguable, genuine, immortal LEGEND.
Hearing he has died, so suddenly after learning of his aggressive cancer. And, hearing how he died, in his own inimitable, brilliantly and wonderfully "Lemmy" way... In front of his favourite computer game console, from his favourite pub - It is exactly how you can imagine him leaving us.
Probably with a whiskey by his side, and a bevvy of beautiful woman who idolised him all around.
A singular man living life in his own singular and impenetrable and unique way.
Yes, he has died.
But he will never DIE.
His body has faded and left us, but his spirit is intwined indivisible from the genre and the music that he helped create and that will never be able to exist without the massive spark he lent and imbibed in it.
Lemmy was rock, is rock and will always be rock.
And the genre will forever exist with his spirit and his spark deeply rooted into the heart and soul of it.
I have never been able to drink Bourbon, but regardless, i will raise a JD and Coke to the sky on New Years eve proudly.
I will say a silent word or two to his name and his memory and i will slug it back with ease, knowing his spirit and his brilliant energy will guide me...
It is the very least i can do to this great, great man.
This REAL legend.
This Golden God.
We should all raise a glass for Lemmy.
Worthy of being mentioned in the same hushed and reverent tones as Lennon, Hendrix, Coltrane, Bach and Mozart.
A man of such importance and such spirit, his absence will be felt for many, many years.
The King of Rock'N'Roll.
Rest In Peace man.
Go on your way, continuing your journey in your Silver machine...