As we’ve all learned recently, there’s no telling what tomorrow might bring, so we take it day by day and cling to each day’s certainties. That makes today, Friday, May 8, a.k.a. Motörhead Day, one to circle on the calendar. It’s a sure bet that every music fan celebrating the iconic English rock band on this appointed date will make today louder than every day else this year.
Members of the group’s classic lineup – bassist/vocalist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke - are all now dearly departed. But 40 years ago, they made history with the album “Ace of Spades.” Music from that record, particularly the title track, propelled Motörhead into rock stardom. Its powerful, warp speed sound appealed to punks and metal fans alike. The anthemic title track frequently appears on “best of” lists, including the tenth spot on VH1’s inventory of the greatest hard rock songs of all time.
Although the record released in the fall of 1980, the band’s social media chose today to celebrate the album and its monumental title track. Sung by the late, great Lemmy, the line “The Ace of Spades” sounds enough like “The Eighth of May” to work. That’s right, folks, your week began with Star Wars Day’s “May the Fourth Be With You” and ends with Motörhead’s “The Eighth of May! The Eighth of May!”
Fans can follow all the day’s festivities at an event page set up Motörhead’s official Facebook page. There’ll be Facebook and Instagram filters to “warpig your face” and fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #8thofmay to celebrate the band. Because we can’t entirely avoid COVID-19, even with this beautiful choice of escapism, there will be limited edition road crew merchandise available for sale to benefit Live Nation’s Crew Nation Fund, which provides financial support to touring crews affected by recent events. Perhaps best of all, a new lyric video for “Ace of Spades” will drop a bit later today.
Houston and its music fans love Motörhead and plan to celebrate today. The band played here over the years, of course, from smaller venues like Engine Room to mid-sized auditoriums like Verizon Wireless and big stages like Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Its last scheduled Houston gig, a September 2015 date at House of Blues, was cancelled due to Lemmy’s illness. In December of that year, he died at age 70. Philthy Phil died a month earlier and Fast Eddie, the last member of the band’s classic lineup, passed away in 2018.
But Houston poet and Motörhead fan Jacob Berg says they’ll never die. He shared a photo of his jacket, which features a patch many fellow fans would appreciate. Placed right at the top, the patch reads “Lemmy Is God.”
“My jacket has two patches honoring them and I've been listening to them since I was an adolescent,” said Berg, whose writing can be found at postpoems.org. “That opening bassline to ‘Ace of Spades’ made me realize that bass could be angry, driving and express just as much of an ‘in your face’ attitude as the most shredding guitar riffs and solos.”
Houston’s Celtic rock legends Blaggards are fans, too. Band members Chad Smalley and Eric Hughes discussed Lemmy’s legacy as recently as a February episode of their Slappercast podcast. In 2014, they shared with Houston Press their top 10 favorite drinking songs and “Ace of Spades” had its rightful place on the list. At the time the band wrote “There's also Lemmy, whose blood must be pure Jack Daniels by now. The lyrics here are about gambling, but when he sings ‘I don't want to live forever,’ we all know what he's talking about.”
Maybe Lemmy didn’t want to live forever, but at least now Motörhead’s adrenaline jolting, head banging, rebel making, freethinking, ear splitting, zero-to-100 moving music will carry on with a day to specifically recall all its glory. May the 8th be with you.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.