Leave Lemmy Alone: It's OK For Musicians to Get Sick
It’s been a rough few weeks for Motörhead, one of metal’s most influential bands. According to the group's Facebook page, lead singer and bass player, Lemmy Kilmister has suffered from a lung infection exacerbated by the high altitude and it has “since been taken care of." The tour resumed Tuesday night in St. Louis, and things appear to have gone well.
Still, it didn't come without a half-dozen cancellations or aborted gigs that got the band's tour promoting brand-new album Bad Magic off to a rough start. First came Salt Lake City, where Lemmy's ailing lungs forced Motörhead to stop after just four songs. Then a date at Denver's Riot Fest was canceled, citing “altitude sickness." The Austin show ended after just three songs, a defeated Lemmy telling the crowd, “I can’t do it.” Add another cancellation for San Antonio the day after, and after great anticipation, Dallas and Houston this past weekend.
Can’t say I’m completely surprised.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, Motörhead cancellations have become the norm, not the exception. Citing gastric issues and dehydration earlier this year, Lemmy canceled their appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival in Brazil—just hours before the set.
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Sadly, it’s been a trend of late. Last year, Motörhead canceled their entire European tour because of Lemmy's health issues. The previous year, he was fitted for a pacemaker around several more canceled shows and a shortened set at Germany's Wacken Open Air Festival.
Not surprisingly, Motorhead's recent social-media output has focused more on the success of Black Magic than their front man’s declining health except when absolutely necessary. And while I can’t say I’m surprised at the recent string of cancelled or shortened sets, I can say I am not disappointed.
You read that correctly: I am not upset.
Yes, I bought tickets to the Houston show months ago. I dreamt about how badass the concert would be, even had daydreams about whom to take along. It was my birthday weekend, after all. What better climax to my celebration than to hear Lemmy’s live, razor-like voice rip through a dozen amplifiers next to my face?
Is it a letdown? Yes. But it’s okay.
That's not the the case for every fan, though, it seems. While Motörheadbangers have been spreading their well-wishes for the great Lemmy across the Internet, others seem to take great offense at a 70-year-old diabetic man who has fallen ill and view the interruption of their Motörhead plans as a personal slight. As if Lemmy owes them something.
As with every Internet article, there must be fucking trolls. But we're talking about something called basic human decency, something by nature trolls lack. They hold everyone (including ailing rock stars) to a level so superlative it’s hyperbolic. Literally unreachable, these standards held by trolls are, simply, outlandish bullshit.
Call them on it, and you’ll receive a fury of responses written so haughtily and condescendingly, you’ll think you’ve said something off-color about their mother. One, who had the audacity to call himself a fan, wrote:
as a fan I should wonder whether if I buy tickets is the band gonna show up? Am I gonna have to listen to him sing the wrong lyrics? Am I gonna have to listen to him sing through his dentures on an album again? Its fucking embarrassing. Just because the dude has a great history and is a legend, doesn’t mean he needs to slog through the end like this. Keep dreaming. [sic]
Here’s the facts, “Fan”: Lemmy doesn’t owe you shit — or any of us, for that matter.
I understand band members get older, fall sick and have health issues among other things that affect, well, people. You know why I get it? Because I know that rock stars are human, too.
That sounds like an incredible statement, doesn’t it? Our stars, our idols are really human beings — flesh and blood who wake up every morning, get dressed, have coffee and start the day, if they’re feeling well enough to do so.
It seems commonplace, even elementary, to mention this, until you read the comments from metal fans across the many articles on the state of Lemmy’s health and performance abilities. While most fans express genuine concern for Lemmy and encourage him to rest and take care of himself, of course there must be trolls to counteract the positivity.
As always, here the impulse to play devil’s advocate is too strong and they fall into the dissenting opinion disregarding how utterly stupid they appear.
Even Black Sabbath recently announced their final tour, appropriately calling it “The End Tour." Legendary guitarist Tony Iommi has openly said this must be his last tour because “I actually can’t do this anymore" after battling lymphoma for years.
Will I buy a ticket to Black Sabbath? Hell yes, and if they cancel I won’t get upset either.
Our rock legends are aging, in some cases, quickly. So why do they keep touring? They must.
To become a musician is a sacrifice. These are people motivated by an undeniable impulse to create music and then share it in a performance. This is living art. Sure, rock stars make a lot of money…but, is that really the case anymore? Not exactly.
It’s not news that musicians no longer make any money on recorded music. The paycheck is in live performance and merchandise, which means touring. All this is to our benefit. You get free music (or almost free), more live touring acts, and a larger merchandise offering. So why the hell are you complaining, metal fans?
My best advice is to see every act you can, while you can. Buy their shirts, vinyls, buttons and as many tickets as you can afford. Bring a friend or three, be the ticket-fairy of your clique, get your ass out to the shows, support the music scene and praise these old loons still rocking their asses off on-stage for you. Enjoy them while they’re still here to enjoy.
And, lastly, in the great Internet age of misinformation, remember what the great Abraham Lincoln said: “Fuck the trolls...fuck 'em.”
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