By Andrew Bansal
While hundreds of Angelenos lined up outside the Rainbow Bar & Grill to witness and celebrate the unveiling of the unofficial Lemmy Kilmister statue on August 24th 2016, perhaps many people not only missed the bigger picture but also showed that they, in fact, did not know about or care for the great man’s true character. I had my reservations about the very thought behind it from day one, and looking at the statue in all its glory (or lack of), all my fears were realized. For those unaware of the back story, soon after the passing of Lemmy on December 28th 2015, certain individuals started canvassing for a life-size Lemmy statue to be permanently placed in the confines of the legendary Motörhead frontman’s so-called favorite bar in West Hollywood. Money was raised via an independent campaign run on YouCaring.com, a crowdfunding site mainly used by people to raise money for funerals and memorials. With $22,771 collected from fans and supporters, a local sculptor was assigned the task of making this statue. I have nothing against the individual(s) behind this initiative or the owners of the bar, who also own the Whisky, a place I frequent and have constantly supported. But, here are five reasons why I completely disagree with the idea of this statue as well as its eventual execution.
1. Lemmy repeatedly said in interviews that he never wanted to be worshipped and openly proclaimed that he was not a godlike human by any means. He was a proud outlaw and rebel. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict, battling his demons till the day he died. It is not uncommon for legends to have statues made to their likeness even while they’re alive, and had that happened in Lemmy’s case, he would have strongly rejected the proposal right from the get-go.
2. Not that I can tell from personal experience because in more than eight years between the day I moved to Los Angeles and the day he passed, I never saw Lemmy hanging out at the Rainbow, but as urban legend would have it, Lemmy supposedly spent all his time there whenever Motörhead wasn’t on tour. The reason he frequented the bar was nothing beyond the fact that he lived a block away and found a convenient spot to sit down, play video poker and drink Jack & Coke (which is now called a ‘Lemmy’, in case you didn’t know). Off the stage, he was a very reserved man, did not see himself as a rockstar, did not seek attention, and most certainly did not like being bothered while sitting in his place of solitude. Despite that, he was never rude to fans, but he was only obliging all requests for photos and autographs just to do what he was supposed to, for the sake of his musical career and that of his band. So, when the man himself absolutely did not like taking pictures with people at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, those closest to him can bet their house on the possibility that this is the last place on earth he would want his statue to stand, only so everyone can take pictures with it.
3. The statue was not sanctioned by the Lemmy estate, his family, the remaining Motörhead members or the band’s management, and what’s most crucial here is that the Rainbow did not come up with this idea in the first place. They did not pay for this statue, and merely agreed to place it on their property. I’m not blaming them in the least bit. I mean, who would? It’s such a fantastic business proposal that they did not have to move an inch for. Whenever anyone laments to me about the Whisky’s pay-to-play policies, I invariably tell them that it’s just business for the Whisky and as long as there are bands that want to pay to play, you can’t really blame the venue for continuing the policy because it helps them meet high guarantees for bigger touring bands and book bigger shows in the process. The same goes for the Rainbow, they just saw this as business, and approved the placement of the statue after it was already paid for by other people. A statue that would bring even more people to the bar than Lemmy did when he was alive? Why would they reject that?
4. The high profile musicians that grabbed the opportunity to appear in the 2011 Lemmy documentary to show on the surface how much they adored Lemmy but deep down did so only to gain attention and for their own benefit, were nowhere to be seen or heard from when this fundraiser was announced, and did not come forward to contribute. Someone like a Dave Grohl, for example (who is supposedly one of Lemmy’s biggest worshippers and was one of his best friends but proudly always said in interviews “Fuck Elvis and Keith Richards, Lemmy Is God” perhaps not knowing that Elvis and Rolling Stones were two of Lemmy’s favorite artists) could have paid for this statue on their own. The very fact that it came down to a bunch of fans to crowd-fund it is bizarre and truly sad.
5. There was a very tiny possibility that all of the above could have been put aside and forgotten if the actual statue did any justice to the man’s legendary stature in our world, but alas, that is not the case. May be a statue of Lemmy rocking out on stage in his signature pose in front of his customary high microphone stand, wearing his famous denim short-shorts, Rickenbacker bass in hand, a cigarette on his lips and a smile on his face as he gazes upon his beloved audience, could have served the purpose. But instead, what we have is a depressingly poor caricature of Lemmy standing straight in what resembles a shower stall, with his arms folded and the saddest expression on his face. Unless the idea was to make him appear exactly like he did during his last days on earth, this is a horrific statue of him in every way imaginable, and perhaps the creator was instructed to mould a decrepit military general, not a timeless rock n’ roll legend. The statue intended to honor and remember one of the greatest personalities in our favorite genre, is itself extremely forgettable.
So, there you have it. It’s hard to say what was worse, the idea behind the statue or the execution, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.
If you like what you’ve read, subscribe to our newsletter, and support Metal Assault and buy a shirt!