In a recent interview with “Rock Of Nations With Dave Kinchen And Shane McEachern”, former MOTÖRHEAD guitarist Phil Campbell reflected on the final days of the band’s leader Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister who passed away in December 2015 at the age of 70, shortly after learning he had been diagnosed with cancer. Phil said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “We got a call, ‘You’d better come over, better fly over to see Lem. He’s not doing too well.’ But we never got a chance. So we never managed to say goodbye, unfortunately. But it’s like any other… when someone passes away, it’s not good. But we rocked, and Lem rocked till the end, till he could do no more. ‘Cause we were trying to get him to take a rest, but he wouldn’t listen to us. He did it — right to the end, he did it his way, which I’m really proud of. I’m glad did it like that as well.”
Phil added: “He said years ago that’s all he wanted to do, was create an unforgettable rock and roll band. So I think he definitely managed that. So, he can sleep upstairs or downstairs, wherever he is now, a happy man.”
Almost a year ago, Campbell was asked by Robert Cavuoto of Myglobalmind if he and his then-MOTÖRHEAD bandmates knew “things were not going well” when they were forced to cancel a number of shows due to Lemmy‘s declining health in the months leading up to his death. Phil responded: “Yeah, we knew, but Lem wanted to just carry on then. I know the last tour in Germany, I think one or two shows were canceled ’cause I ended up in hospital. And I came back out and we finished the tour. And that was the last tour then; the last show was in Berlin. So the last week of MOTÖRHEAD, actually I was the one in bloody hospital. But we never thought — when we parted at the end of the tour, we never thought that would be the last time we’d see each other. We didn’t have a chance to say goodbye, me or Mikkey [Dee, MOTÖRHEAD drummer], or nothing. I couldn’t even go over to the funeral, ’cause my doctor advised me not to, ’cause I was pretty ill myself in them days.”
In March 2023, Dee told Sonic Perspectives that Lemmy didn’t have any idea he was dying in the months leading up to his December 2015 passing. “I don’t think that he had those — I know he didn’t have these thoughts at all,” Mikkey said. “But he did struggle with his health, and that was a pain in the ass for Lemmy, because he wanted to live his normal life so much. But he had some good days and bad days. And ’15 was a tough year for Lemmy, and for all of us, obviously. But I know for a fact that he had no idea that he would actually pass away — I mean, die — by the end of that year; he had no clue about that.”
MOTÖRHEAD had to cancel a number of shows in 2015 because of Lemmy‘s poor health, although the band did manage to complete the aforementioned European tour a couple of weeks before his death.
In June 2020, it was announced that Lemmy would get the biopic treatment. The upcoming film, “Lemmy”, will be directed by Greg Olliver, who previously helmed the 2010 documentary of the same name, “Lemmy”.
A custom-made urn containing Lemmy‘s ashes is on permanent display in a columbarium at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood, California.
Back in May 2021, Dee told the “Waste Some Time With Jason Green” video podcast that Lemmy refused to quit touring in the weeks leading up to his death, even when his health was clearly deteriorating.
“We played the last show the 11th of December [of 2015] in Berlin, and he passed just [two] weeks later,” Mikkey recalled. “And that tells you, the guy died with his boots on. And both me and Phil [Campbell, MOTÖRHEAD guitarist] were trying to talk him out of starting the second part of the European tour after Christmas. But there was no way in hell we could do that. And I said to Phil, ‘Look, instead of arguing with Lemmy or pushing him not to do this,’ because we said maybe we should break for a couple of months for him to catch his wind, basically. I said, ‘Let’s not push him anyway. Let him decide what he wants to do. He knows best what he wants to do.’ And he wanted to be on stage. So we said, ‘Let’s just support him instead,’ and that’s what we did. But we never made it to the second leg of that European tour, unfortunately. It was the U.K. that was on the next part of it, I remember that.”
Asked if he knew when he came home to Sweden that it would probably be the end for Lemmy, Mikkey said: “No. Not at all. Because I talked to Lemmy after that show in Berlin. We were all gonna go separate ways, obviously. I was gonna just fly out to Sweden, and Phil went back home to Wales. Lemmy was flying back to L.A., but I believe he was gonna fly to London and stay one night or two or so and say hi to friends and then fly back home. And I spoke to him right after the show. I went down to Lemmy‘s dressing room, and I said, ‘All right. Go back to L.A. and figure out, maybe, another two songs from [MOTÖRHEAD‘s final album] ‘Bad Magic’ that you think that we should do. And we take out the two songs that we already played on this leg, and we put in two new songs from the record.’ And he said, ‘Yeah. All right. I’ll check that out.’ And I said, ‘Let’s hook up after Christmas.’ Because it was the 11th of December at that time, and I figured we’d talk between Christmas and New Year’s Eve and decide which two songs that we agreed on on playing on that next leg. And he said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go back and work on that.’ And that was it. He had no intention of not coming back to Europe and touring. So we did a little finger hook, as we always did, and that was the last time I saw him, actually. Very sad.”
Dee went on to say that Lemmy had made some changes in his life to improve his health after dealing with several issues over the last few years of his life, including heart trouble. “But my personal belief is that it was maybe a little too late,” he said. “He should have maybe changed a little earlier. But knowing Lemmy, he was not for that. He was doing it his way or the highway, basically. And that made him to what he was. He never compromised with his music, he never compromised with friendship, he never compromised with what way he was gonna go for anyone else in that way, which is why MOTÖRHEAD was MOTÖRHEAD, and still is MOTÖRHEAD. But with that said, of course, the three of us were talking a lot about stuff, and it was not like he was some kind of a boss here. But we all worked so good together, and that’s what created the magic, I would say.”
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