Lemmy Kilmister 1945 – 2015
I am not a Motorhead fan who came to love Lemmy. I fell in love with Lemmy and then came to love Motorhead.
Lemmy belongs to the world and he touched the lives of millions of people, but I have my own personal history with Lemmy, such as it is, and I think this is the time to share my story with the world. I don’t presume that my relationship to him was more special than anyone else, but it was special to me. My love for him was completely unconditional and stood on its own regardless of how he may have felt about me. To quote my daughter Sylvie, he was “the man of my dreams, daydreams, actual love of my life. Perhaps a somewhat one-sided romance, but still very powerful”.
I’ll start at the beginning in 1968 when I met Lemmy in London at the tender age of 16, and he was 22. This is a true story with no embellishment. I remember so much, even his very words, because he was so important to me. These are memories I have cherished.
I invite anyone who has a story to tell of their own experiences with Lemmy, to send them to me at:
firstname.lastname@example.org to include on this forum.
With love, Cyn
In the beginning…
It was a warm summer’s day for London in August of 1968. I had spent the day alone at St Paul’s Cathedral, in awe of that resplendent church. As a young aspiring dancer at the Royal Ballet School, I had taken part in an elaborate Christmas pageant at St Paul’s on Christmas Eve. Now I sat, in contemplation, enchanted by the mystery of the Whispering Gallery in the lofty place under the dome of the church. Whispering from one side of the sphere, your words can be heard clearly on the other side, 30m away. This would be a romantic way to tell someone you love them, I thought. In a place like this, how could I not reflect on the grandeur and the mystery of life. I was sixteen years old and I was floating through my life, as if on the waves of the ocean. As I peered over the edge of the railing at the compass inlaid on the mosaic floor below, I parted from my reverie with a sigh and headed down the steps of the spiraling staircase and into the streets of London. I never imagined it but my life was about to change forever that very afternoon.
I went back to Earls Court, where I lived, being the only student in my flat spending the summer in London, while everyone else was visiting their family during the summer break. Wearing my new little flowery mini-dress, and sandals that laced up to my knees, I had just come out of Earls Court tube station onto the always bustling Earls Court Road when I saw Lemmy in the distance walking towards me. He reminded me of Donovan, my favorite singer/songwriter at the time. His hair was shoulder length, and flowing as he walked, the same walk we have all come to know and love. He had wispy facial hair, and almost a mustache. He was wearing a brown Edwardian suit with a velvet collar, and dark pink flipflops. I have a vivid impression of Lemmy’s face amidst the crowd even now, 48 years later. It was love at first sight. As he came nearer, I noticed that I was near the “magic mirror”, as I called it, a door covered with a garish fun house mirror for no apparent reason, which I liked to imagine had magical properties, and it was right there that we crossed paths. I smiled and nodded to him shyly, and he returned the nod as we passed each other. I walked on slowly feeling flustered and not sure what to do. I had let him walk right past and now he was gone. At the corner of Earls Court Road and Trebovir Road, the street I lived on, I slowed and turned, and came to a sudden resolve to turn back to look for him. How could I possibly let him disappear and maybe never see him again? Walking back the half block that I had covered, amazingly, there he was again coming towards me, now with cigarettes in hand and the “Melody Maker” newspaper tucked under his arm, and again we were together in front of the magic mirror. This time, though, we both stopped and gazed at each other momentarily. I don’t remember having a single thought. I just stood there, kind of mesmerized. Lemmy said nothing, but took my hand and walked away with me, and I willingly went with him. I walked with him and he turned onto Trebovir Road. We said nothing till we had nearly reached the end of the street and walking past my flat, I finally spoke and said “That’s where I live”, and he pointed ahead to Warwick Road and said “Oh I live right there across the road on Philbeach Gardens!” We continued walking silently. He just took me with him, without question, to the house he lived in. He opened the wrought iron gate and lead me down the stairs to a basement flat. We walked through a tiny kitchen and into a room with four bunk-beds. He invited me to climb up onto one of the top bunks, he climbing up after me and sitting close next to me. Our legs were stretched out in front of us, with our feet sticking out over the side of the bed, suspended in the air. We talked for a bit, exchanging names and telling each other a bit about ourselves, him showing me his artwork rather proudly. He soon leaned over and kissed me, a long sensual, soulful kiss. It felt so perfect and right. And we kissed, and kissed and kissed some more.
Eventually I had to leave, being expected home for dinner. He took my phone number and I went home as if in a dream.
Many years later, when I reminded Lemmy of this story he said” Aw Cyn, that’s a good story! Even if it wasn’t me it’s a good story…”
And you know, I think that mirror was magic.
The next day Lemmy called asking me to go out that afternoon. I can’t even tell you how happy and excited I was…He came to get me like a proper date. He was very gentlemanly, but Mrs. Johnston, the owner of the flat who took in students from the Royal Ballet School was skeptical when she saw him with his long hair, Edwardian suit, and small pink rectangular granny sunglasses perched on the end of his nose, but not so much that she stopped me from going out with him. She was a self appointed guardian for me and the other girls I went to school with. She had prohibited me from going to an anti Vietnam war rally earlier that summer, perhaps a good thing, since later that evening on the telly I saw my friend, whom I would have been with, in the midst of a violent confrontation with the police.
Lemmy and I walked to the Warwick Road entrance to Earl’s Court station and took the train to Richmond Park. As we wandered around the park holding hands I have little memory of what we saw that day. I only remember him. He did all the talking. I nervously answered his many questions about myself and my life as a dancer at the Royal Ballet School, working hard to appear cool and aloof. Lemmy was very respectful of my shyness and gentle with my innocence. He looked into my eyes and was genuinely interested in what I had to say. I was mesmerized by everything he said.
He guided us off the paths into a wooded area of the park, talking about the bracken rustling in the breeze, the leaves crunching beneath our feet. As we came into a clearing, a field of long wispy grass where Lemmy suggested we sit for a bit, the English sun shown down on us. We were soon stretched out on the ground at his suggestion, looking up at the sky. The yellow grasses swished around my head as I lay back ankles crossed, hands under my head. We lay there silently for some time watching the clouds. I may have seemed relaxed, but I was not. I wanted so much for him to like me and I wondered what he was thinking about me. Here I was, alone with a man I hardly knew who was clearly something special, and I felt breathless with anticipation. Now Lemmy was over me looking intently into my eyes and like the day before he was kissing, and kissing, and kissing me more. It was so gentle, so romantic, so dreamlike. Later that summer Lemmy wrote a song that described a day just like this: Once on a green day, I was in long grass, and you came rustling silently by.
I caught your long hand, fingers of satin, and in the long grass together we lie.
What are you thinking kissing me softly? Where does your mind go when you are here?
“It’s nothing really” your only answer, or does your mind’s eye shed lonely tears?
And I had said exactly that, on that beautiful day, in response to Lemmy wondering about the distant look in my eyes. “It’s nothing really”.
I was already hopelessly in love. I fell in love with him the moment I daid eyes on him the day before on Earl’s Court Road.
Lemmy at Home
Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes.
Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.
I’m writing this part of my story on the morning of January 9th waiting for the memorial later today. We won’t be seeing him again, but he’ll be with us, now and forever.
So, thinking about those early days with Lemmy Willis, as he was back then, and reading what I have previously written about meeting Lemmy, I feel a little uncomfortable sharing it. It reads like a diary of a teenage girl, I know, and it’s silly with all the kissing maybe, but that’s how it was. This is, after all, the story of the romance of the 16 year old girl that I once was. And it was romantic! I never thought of him as my “boyfriend”, and our relationship can’t be described as “dating”. It was not defined and we didn’t speak of it.
I had a pure unconditional love for him, which he clearly felt, and he had a way of making me feel loved and appreciated without saying anything. I was very careful to not have any unrealistic expectations of him because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle any kind of rejection from him.
I would go around to his flat, just showing up unexpectedly, and he was always happy to see me, and graciously inviting. He was always alone, and even though he had roommates, I never met any of them. The kitchen was usually messy, dirty even, with unwashed dishes on the counter and filling the sink. The one big room was always fairly dark, nondescript, and nothing decorative about it except a mirror in the corner that had been painted around the edges with poetic words I can no longer recall, with a filmy cobweb like cloth draping one corner of the glass. I have a vivid memory of him standing sideways to the mirror, assessing himself in his new bell bottomed trousers. “What do you think?” he asked. “I love them” I said, from the top of the bunk bed. “But do I look good in them?” he wanted to know. “You do!” I answered enthusiastically. The hip hugging trousers were tight around his thighs. He had great legs…
The floor of the room was always littered with papers, drawings, photographs, cigarette boxes and the like. The beds were unkempt, just jumbles of seemingly unwashed blankets and linens. This was a quintessential “hippy pad”. It smelled of cigarette smoke, as did Lemmy. The smell a cigarettes on people’s clothing still puts me into a dreamy state recalling poignant, wistful feeling memories of him.
I loved being there with him. We would sit together on the top bunk, not speaking much, just together. I loved how comfortable it was to just “be” with him. He was usually drawing intently in pen and ink, mostly fanciful creatures and scenes.
I know he enjoyed my presence, not minding that I had little to say. He would try to draw me into conversation, but I was not very talkative. Lemmy was reading “Lord of the Rings”, his favorite book at that moment, and his drawings reflected that. He spoke of it glowingly, suggesting that I read it.
I imagine he was speeding, or possibly tripping, but he never said as much. He was sometimes smoking hash, but I never joined him because he rolled it into his cigarettes. I wasn’t a smoker and didn’t want to be. I suppose we all have our drugs of choice and mine has always been chocolate!
(By the way, I love the milk commercial recently released in Norway in honor of Lemmy!)
I’ve brought myself back to the present here. This is a surreal day. I just can’t quite grasp what is happening today…
Watching Lemmy’s memorial wasn’t easy. As my thoughts went back to the beginning, I struggled to reconcile the unassuming, youthful musician I met the summer of 1968 with the famous heavy metal icon he had become. Here he is, revered by so many, a staggering 300,000 people watching. The memory of who Lemmy was, and the times I spent with him in our youth have crystallized as one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. I had grieved over the loss of Lemmy as he was then, in spite of the happy memories. Now I was sorrowfully saying goodbye to the man he had become. “To only see you…”, Lemmy’s lyrics in “Yesterlove”, a song he wrote that summer about his own first love have echoed in my mind for 47 years.
When I first met him I wasn’t aware that he was actually writing songs. All that summer he was working on an album to be called “Escalator” with Sam Gopal. He never talked about it at all, but I’d show up at his door and he’d pull me into the room, guitar in hand. “I’m working on this new riff. What do you think?” We’d climb up onto his bed and I’d listen to him play. I’d quietly pick up his acoustic guitar with no strings and pretend to play it. God, I was so young and silly I suppose, but it was just the kind of thing a hippy flower girl would do and he seemed amused by it. He gave me that guitar.
Lemmy had taken me to Sam’s flat one August evening. I didn’t realize it then, but he group was named after him. I liked Sam a lot. He was handsome and had beautiful long, thick, black hair. I was in awe of the hippy atmosphere of his home. Colorful Indian prints were draped on the rose colored walls, incense burned, bells tinkled. His very beautiful young girlfriend, who’s name I can no longer recall, was lounging on a leather hassock on the Persian rug, smoking hashish from a hookah on the low round wooden table and the smells of exotic, Indian food wafted through the air. The lighting was soft and had a golden hue. I had come from a suburban home in Massachusetts and was studying ballet at the prestigious Royal Ballet School. I had never seen anything like this before. I liked this lifestyle…
Lemmy wanted to show me everything he did, his artwork, his music, his writing. When I had to get home, because I had a curfew, he’d always stop me at the kitchen door playing something for me, trying to keep me there. “Listen to this” he’d say. “How does this sound?” Or, “What musicians do you like besides the Beatles?” (because of course I would like the Beatles best, that was a given). “Donovan”, I said. I was pleased to see, many months later, that the only cover on “Escalator” was Donovan’s “Season of the Witch”, a song about the hobbits in “Lord of the Rings” That summer he wrote in a song:
“If you are going, go very swiftly. Don’t linger saying tender goodbyes. My lips are moving. I’m only speaking to try and make you stay with me here”
And that’s how it felt whenever I was leaving.
Lemmy called and asked me to go with him to see “Traffic” with Stevie Winwood in Hyde Park. This was my first rock concert, so it was exciting for me! (I still love that I can say I went to my first rock concert with Lemmy!)
We strode into the park towards the music. I have a vivid image in my mind, as if we were shooting a scene from a movie. We are passing the camera focused up from the grass, the camera lens seeing the stage and the ocean of hippies sitting on the grass through our legs as we walk past hand in hand. I was wearing a new dress bought in Earl’s Court at “Lady Cynthia’s Boutique”. It was an empire waist dress with wide flowing sleeves, made of a blue/purple Indian print, and I wore those sandals that laced up to the knees. Lemmy was wearing his Edwardian suit with pink flip flops as usual… I’m not sure I ever saw him wear anything else that summer, not even the new trousers! He wore a hat with a colorful scarf tied around the brim and a feather floating on one side. One time, in his flat, I was looking at the photos strewn across the floor, proofs from a photo shoot, and he said I could have one if I liked. I chose one of him wearing that hat and smiling a broad smile. Sadly, that photo was lost, but is etched in my mind.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a mercilessly hot and sunny August day- that would have made the day unbearable for me. We were in London, after all. It was pleasant and breezy, and the overcast English sky was perfect with just a hint of sun from time to time.
Brian Auger and the Trinity and Julie Driscoll, “Jools” opened the show. They were the latest group everyone was talking about in London. Jools was as cool as can be, and Brian Augers’ organ music was powerful and impressive.
But we had come to see Stevie Winwood and “Traffic”. “Dear Mr Fantasy” will forever bring me back to that afternoon. And my favorite Traffic song, “Forty Thousand Headmen”, I heard for the first time that day. I see myself sitting there on the grass, sun glinting in my eyes just enough to put a sparkle on the scene, my long straight hair brushing across my face in the slight breeze. I could hardly believe I was here. We were happy.
That particular moment in time, the late 60’s, was a time like no other before or since. If I could go back in time, 1968 would be the year I would choose to re-live again. There was something in the air, and we all knew it, though it was unspoken. The times were changing, we were a part of it, and the world would never be the same again.
In the Dark
I wanted to go to Lemmy’s all the time. He was all I could think about. But I was careful not to, fearing that I might be imposing. I think I’d just have withered away on the doorstep if he ever turned me a way at the door, or if I found him with another girl. Thankfully, that never happened.
I was back at school now, in my third year at the Royal Ballet School. Sometimes, when I was at Lemmy’s, while he was drawing or writing, I’d do barre work, holding onto the side of the bunk bed where he sat. This is what I did; I was a dancer. I went through plies, tendu’s, rond de jambe en l’air, and finally an adage’, tracing up the side of my leg with my pointed foot and unfolding my leg in the air in front of me, my calf at the level of my eyes, then slowly bringing it to my side and to the back into an arabesque, and bending forward into a ponche’, with my foot pointed straight up to the ceiling. Adage’ was my forte’ in dancing, the ever so slow movements, gracefully and smoothly shifting from one pose to another. It requires a great deal of strength. I wanted to show him what I could do. He watched but never commented.
I was reading “Lord of the Rings” at Lemmy’s suggestion, and I was completely entranced with it, reading it ever so slowly because I never wanted to come to the end of it. I wanted to savor it. It was always with me and I’d be reading up until the last minute before class in the mornings. He was on to reading “I, Claudius”. We sat together reading sometimes.
One evening I went round and there were actually people there. That was the one and only time. He took my hand and led me through, and out the door at the back of the room. He didn’t introduce me to anyone there. We were in an unfinished, cold, and brightly lit hallway. He opened another door and invited me to enter. As the light from the hallway filtered in I saw it was the bathroom. He walked in behind me and closed the door. It was pitch black. We sunk down to the floor.
I had no sense of fear, being alone with him in the dark, though I was not sure what he had in mind. There I was, laying on the floor, with Lemmy on top of me, kissing me. It soon seemed clear to me that he was making no suggestion of going further onto more sexual pursuits, which allowed me to completely sink into the sensuousness of his kisses. We were completely in the moment and it was the most sensuous moment in time I’ve ever experienced before or since. We didn’t speak. Not at all. He just kissed me, voraciously now, passionately.
Many years later, when he expressed a jealousy about someone I was with, I said to him ” Don’t you know that you’re the only one? That every man in my life has been jealous of you? You know that quote in the movie ” Hearts of Atlantis”? “It will be the kiss by which all others in your life will be judged… and found wanting” Well, that’s how it is, and everyone knows it.” Lemmy thought it was a Shakespeare quote, but I don’t think it actually is. Anyway, I didn’t say that to him talking literally about his kiss, but more his place in my life. I realize now that it was, in fact, his kisses as well.
He may have felt that with my being so much younger it would have been taking advantage of my innocence, or he may have thought I was afraid. He always gently guided me, but not beyond where he thought I was willing to go. I’ve wondered if he wasn’t tripping that night and just got lost in kissing…
He wrote in “Grass”:
“I can break walls down if you will help me, if I can reach you, help you to see, All of the good things that I can give you if you will take them, take them from me. Please will you trust me? Maybe I’ll hurt you, but I can heal it, soon as it’s done. Give me your hand and allow me to lead you, out of the long grass and into the sun.”
I think that spoke to his thoughts about me, at only sixteen years old. He respected my innocence, but he knew he had something to offer.
When I left him that night my lips were actually swollen. At home I was shocked to see my bright red lips and flushed face in the mirror. I was in a daze, I was entranced. I was so in love with him.
My relationship with Lemmy took place almost entirely at his flat. We would go to movies together though. He took me to see Barbarella, with Jane Fonda, a wild 60‘s movie, so typical of the times. It was a sexy, beautiful, romantic, adventurer in space! I loved it and so did Lemmy. It was so perfect seeing that with him. I remember leaving the cinema smiling and feeling energized, fairly floating down the street, my hand in his.
One Sunday afternoon on the way to the cinema, across the wide road, (was it sunny Goodge Street?) we saw Eartha Kit as she walked, alone and singing powerfully. Her hands were waving in the air; she was singing to the sky. Lemmy was taking me to see “Prudence and the Pill”, with David Niven and Deborah Kerr, an obscure film, I’d say, and a strange choice on his part, but there you have it!
Those two movies, juxtaposed, illustrate well the changes that were happening in our culture at that time. It was a hip scene going on in London in 1966-67 where going to a nightclub, the DJ playing Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink and dancing to the bossa nova in those cute little patent leather shoes, and velvet dresses just above the knee was very cool. Then it shifted to long flowing Indian dresses, or white boots and flowing sleeves, Nehru collars or very much shorter dresses of the Mary Quant look, which transversed the two scenes. Now the music was electric, strange, exciting, and like nothing else we’d ever heard. Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Brown, Incredible String Band, and so many other wild and brilliant bands.
And yet there was still an innocence in these times. The Beatles were still happily together, and singing about love. I felt so lucky to be where it was all happening in “Swinging London”. It was vibrant and exhilarating. The saying was “London swings while England rots”. Not that I knew anything of the political or economic situation in the UK. Revolution was brewing, and the roots of the punk scene were afoot, but I was unaware, only noticing the fashions and the social/cultural revolution happening around me.
One crisp autumn evening I went down to Earls Court Road with my best friend and roommate Anita. My thoughts were all of Lemmy and I was yearning, (yes, yearning!) for him. I often walked around the crescent of Philbeach Gardens. I just wanted to be near him walking down “the street where he lived” like in “My Fair Lady”! Anita and I were having coffee at a restaurant with other girls from the Royal Ballet School. It was an American chain restaurant of some sort, red and white stripes, and wooden booths…something to do with Kentucky. There were some really cool cafe’s near Earls Court, with folk music, like the Troubadour on Old Brompton Road, and Cafe” des Artistes in Fulham. I can’t imagine why we chose to go to this insipid place. We were all feeling a bit bored talking about school and boys. I never talked about Lemmy with any of them except Anita, but even she knew little about him. None of my friends from school ever met Lemmy. I was watching the time, in mind of our curfew, because I had a nagging thought of stopping by Lemmy’s just for a moment, just to see him before it got too late, or even just walking past his door. I was distant with my friends saying little, and not very involved in the conversation. Anita noticing my wistful longing, looked at me questioningly. I gave her my usual aloof answer “It’s nothing really”
Finally, I excused myself, saying I wanted to walk around a bit by myself before having to go home. Just as I walked out the door, along came Lemmy, with his mates Roger and Sam. I could hardly believe it! I felt as if I had drawn him to me in some magical way. I had been thinking of him and wishing to see him all evening and there he was. And, he was wearing a long shocking pink cape with a hood! Yes… I’m not kidding.
His friends kept walking, while he stopped and greeted me with a smile as he swooped the cape around my shoulders and swept me along with him as smoothly as can be. We walked and talked and my uneasiness dissolved. They were heading to a rehearsal, he said. It was beginning to dawn on me that he was actually playing with a band.
We crossed Earls Court Road and walked up Nevern Place towards Warwick Road, and onto Philbeach Gardens. Eventually we came to the church off the crescent, Saint Cuthberts’, with its wrought iron gates leading into the cobblestone courtyard. I had walked by this place many times, but had never thought to go in. Lemmy stopped just inside of the gates, and turning towards me, both of us still wrapped in the cape, he said “ I need to take leave of you here”. He kissed me gently and released me to the chill of the night air, disappearing through the beautiful wooden doors of the church. I drifted home in a romantic dreamlike trance.
Speaking of dreams, I recently had one wherein Lemmy was flying in the night sky. He swooped down to me and enveloped me in his arms, which were more like wings, and flew off with me, protected in his loving embrace. It felt just like being wrapped in his embrace with that pink cape around us both.
Autumn Into Winter
And so it went… Lemmy was busy making an album with Sam and Roger. He hadn’t talked about it, except through intimation, but being the oblivious girl that I was, it didn’t really sink in. Now I knew he was rehearsing with them and that they were a band.
Having discovered St Cuthbert’s through Lemmy, I would go now to explore the church. Compared to the magnificence of Saint Paul’s Cathedral which I had visited on the day Lemmy and I met, I saw Saint Cuthbert’s as a quaint church, but in spite of being a good deal smaller than St Paul’s, it is an majestic work of art, known as “much the grandest church to have been built in western Kensington”.
At sunset I’d walk into the church, loving the ominous echo of my footsteps on the marbled floor. I sat on the small wooden chairs, reflecting on the depth of my feelings for Lemmy. I always found myself alone, I never saw a soul there. I breathed in the solemnity of that hallowed place.
There were alcoves on the sides of the church, Gothic arches looming overhead, where parishioners could light candles for loved ones and ask for prayers. A little school notebook sat on the old wooden table in which to write your requests, with the pencil provided, attached to the book with string. In my carefully written, child like handwriting, I asked for prayers that Lemmy would have everything he wanted in life, that he would succeed in achieving his desires. I wonder if they save those notebooks forever?
Loving Lemmy was all that mattered to me. Somehow he had connected me to my spirituality, maybe through my unconditional love for him. This is not something I was aware of then, this is what I see now. In spite of my youthful immaturity I knew this was the way it had to be. I could not have any expectations of him. It was bittersweet and sad, but I felt a graceful peace and acceptance of who he was, and what our relationship was.
On All Hallows Eve I went to the church with a portable record player which I placed on the lavish ancient alter. I wanted to hear Donovan’s voice infuse the air with “A Gift From a Flower to a Garden.”, “Catch the Wind”, and Celeste”. (As I sat here revisiting that evening, that majestic song, forgotten in my subconscious, welled up in me and escaped my lips). These enchanting sweet songs informed my life.
But “Catch the Wind” would be my favorite, the theme song of my life. When I hear it I drift back to Lemmy Willis, the boy I knew way back then:
In the chilly hours and minutes of uncertainty,
I want to be in the warm hold of your loving mind.
To feel you all around me,
And to take your hand along the sand,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.
When sundown pales the sky,
I want to hide a while behind your smile,
And everywhere I look your eyes I find.
For me to love you now, would be the sweetest thing,
T’would make me sing,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.
When rain has hung the leaves with tears,
I want you near, to kill my fears,
To help me to leave all my blues behind.
Standing in your heart is where I want to be
And long to be,
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind.
The serenity of that church had become something of a sanctuary for me to feel my aloneness. I was not unhappy. I was loving being in love, whether lamenting the poignant sadness or inspired by the delicious spirituality of love.
Lemmy had written: “Make up your own mind, give me a reason, why you are running small and alone. No one is lonely if they are ready to live for living and living alone.”
Maybe I had created the reality of my life and Lemmy sensed it … maybe he knew me better than I knew myself.
The End of the Beginning
“Looking through crystal spectacles, I can see you had your fun”
Epistle to Dippy Donovan
I was just coming off the platform at Earls Court Road one day, and as I ran up the stairs to the Warwick Street entrance I saw Lemmy and his friend Leo. I stopped and joined the conversation. Leo struck me as a wild, wired guy. He looked a little like Philthy Animal Tayor, Motorhead’s drummer before Mickey Dee, similar energy. He was a speed freak, very friendly, and I liked him. After just a few minutes, Leo took his leave, and we watched him bounding up the stairs, waving goodbye as he went. When he was nearly out of site Lemmy turned to me and said “ Leo called me Motorhead…isn’t that cool?” I had no idea what that meant, but agreed that it was. So many times over the years Lemmy would say things that I wondered about, and that was one of them. I should have asked “Well, what does that mean exactly?” “Why is it cool?”
I’d never heard that word before, and wouldn’t hear it again till twenty years later, but it was the key to finding Lemmy again.
“We’ve moved”, Lemmy said happily and with an excited air about him, “over to Nevern Square. Come on, I’ll show you”, and he grabbed my hand and pulled me along. It was only a few blocks away, still in our neighborhood. As we walked he told me that they had recorded an album and he couldn’t wait to show me. “What?… Wow!”, I exclaimed. This was a big deal, and a complete surprise to me. In those days, recording was a complicated and expensive endeavor, involving a contract with a studio, not like it is today, with recording options so much more accessible.
This new place was a room in the front of the house with a big three sided window that bowed out, very light and airy, with high ceilings. Lemmy had a bed right in the alcove of the window overlooking the square, the large garden guarded by a tall wrought iron fence. These squares are private, only for residents surrounding them, who have keys. It was a lovely street, and stately townhouse. Going back to London forty years later to reminisce, I couldn’t be sure exactly which townhouse it was.
The room was large and white, with crown molding around the edges of the ceiling and artful details gracing the walls, giving it a formal feeling character. This room was built to be an elegant parlor or dining room, and now it had been reduced to a flat for wild rock and rollers. There were four disheveled beds arranged around the room. Like the last flat, it was rather dull and nondescript, but it had a cozy, lived in feeling about it, a nest, and was a definite upgrade from the last place on Philbeach Gardens. Noticeably, there were several guitars about the room. Roger was living there too, one of his band mates whom I had met briefly, and two other musicians I would never meet.
I sat down on his bed, taking in the room. He had a little bedside table, strewn with stuff like cigarettes and lighters, rolling papers. On top of the pile was a pair of unusual eye glasses which immediately drew my eye. They were spectacular Two oval, many faceted crystals were the “glass”, one blue, and one a turquoise green. The frames were clearly hand fashioned of copper, holding the crystals in place with a swirling design at the sides and circling around the ear. I immediately picked them up and put them on. It was like looking through a kaleidoscope. Everything I looked at was multiplied, and moved as I moved my head, and any light was lined with a rainbows of color. “ Aren’t they incredible?”, Lemmy asked coming from the kitchen offering me cocktail franks, in cellophane packages, slices of ham, and cheese, the kind of food he’s always liked! “They’re psychedelic spectacles, meant to wear when your tripping”, he said, “ I drove all the way to Newcastle wearing those!” I nodded incredulously, as I scanned the room, especially focusing on the sunlight streaming in the windows onto Lemmy’s bed.
“Look at this!” he said as he picked up the album on the bed and handed it to me. It was a black textured album cover with large yellow letters saying “Sam Gopal” over a portrait of Lemmy with his band mates, Sam, Roger, and Phil. It was called “Escalator.” I was speechless and I was impressed. I just looked at him and smiled.
As I was looking it over, Lemmy said “ Listen, I’ve got to go. I’ve got to meet Roger.” He took the album out of my hands, pulled the record out of the cover, put it on the record player. “Stay and listen to it” he said with a twinkle of pride in his eye. He kissed me lightly on the cheek and left.
I sat there alone in the darkening room as evening came on, and listened to the whole album. I loved it. It was psychedelic, electric, sound effects conjuring haunting images along with the music, like the Beatle’s “Sergent Pepper” album. Sam Gopal played tablas throughout giving it an unusual sound, coupled with Lemmy’s distinct voice, soft and romantic in some songs, and driven and passionate in others. This was the first time I really heard him sing. This was incredible.
I had had an overwhelming desire to wear the eye glasses outside in the sunlight. I knew Lemmy wouldn’t mind if I borrowed them. As I walked home in a psychedelic haze wearing the crystal spectacles, Donovan’s song, “Epistle to Dippy” in my mind.
I also wore them to school the next day. Later that evening Lemmy was at my door. “Do you have my spectacles?” he asked anxiously, sounding out of breath and slightly panicked. “Yes,” I said, “ I didn’t think you would mind if I borrowed them”. With a look and a sigh of relief he said “Oh no, that’s alright, “I was just worried about them disappearing.” I got the spectacles from my room and handed them to him. “Gotta run, he said, we’re off to Newcastle again!” With a quick smile he ran up the stairs.
I wouldn’t see him again for twenty years.
Trouble was brewing at home unbeknownst to me, and I would be leaving London rather suddenly later that week while Lemmy was away…
Over the years I was always on the look out for crystals like those in Lemmy’s glasses, with the intention of making some just like them. It took thirty-five years.
But I did find the crystals in Dublin, in a bead and crystal shop on Batchelors’ Walk on the River Liffey. I got some copper wiring, and struggled to fashion the frames around the crystals, somewhat successfully, although a little crudely. The next time I went to see Motorhead, I presented them as a gift to Lemmy. I had told Phil and Mickey about the glasses and they were watching with me as Lem opened the box. When he saw them, he literally lit up with a childlike delight, and completely surprised, as if they were the original glasses, long lost and returned again. I was beyond joyful myself, having made him so happy.
I’ve written the last 1968 post today, February 28th… it’s been two months since he left us.
Tommorrow it will be Leap Year Day. Eight years ago on Leap Year Day, I sent Lem a proposal, hand written for me in a fancy script by a calligrapher. It said:
“After forty years of loving you unwaveringly…
Tradition holds that every fourth year, leap year, on February 29th, a woman may propose marriage to the man she loves. And so, as the fulfillment of my love for you, I am taking this opportunity to ask for your hand in marriage.
Nothing need change between us. My motives are purely romantic and I only want to express my hearts’ long desire to be yours. I don’t want to live with you or go on tour with you. I just want to be married to you.
Being the gentleman that you are, I am confident that you will respect the sincerity of this proposal and respond kindly and lovingly.
But I digress…
Later that week I called my father on the payphone installed in the hallway at Mrs Johnston’s where I lived. I was calling to ask for money. I had just passed the advanced Royal Academy of Dance exam and needed money to pay for the certificate. I didn’t even have enough money to buy the point shoes I needed for school, and my teachers were not sympathetic. Neither my school tuition for the semester nor my room and board had been paid. Something was amiss at home…
My father barked at me straight away, before I had a chance to make my request. “Who’s this Amory?!!!” “What?”, I asked, confused that he would know of him. “I read your letter to Landa, and I want to know what the hell is going on there. I didn’t send you over there to get involved with drug addicts!!” he yelled at me. I stared down at the lush Oriental carpet as I listened to him. Oh man, I was in trouble now…
I had met Amory in the passport office while I was reading Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”. He noticed the book and we got to talking. He was an American singer/songwriter from San Francisco who was in London to avoid the draft. My sister Landa had been in London with me the year before I met Lemmy so she knew Amory. Amory had just told me that he had had a gig at “Middle Earth” and when he got up on stage to begin the set he couldn’t remember how to play his guitar because he had dropped some LSD. This is what my father read in the letter. I assured him that Amory was just a friend, an American, by the way, and that I wasn’t, if fact, taking LSD or using any other kind of drugs.
I was diligently working hard at school even though I wasn’t really happy there at this point. The severe strictness of the school, was beginning to wear on me. I had been called into the office because a teacher had seen me eating an orange on the train. “What is wrong with that?” I asked. “Oranges have a strong scent.” was the answer. Apparently it was not the decorum fitting of a Royal Ballet student!
I was now noticing a desperate competitiveness in some of my classmates which I found distasteful. I remember a girl looking at me with utter contempt, almost hatred, because I did not express enough excitement or appreciation at being selected for rehearsals of the school production of “Giselle”.
I had been the youngest student in the school in my first year, and because of my youth they had allowed me to stay on a third year, which was unusual. My teachers felt that after this year I should continue my training in Stuttgart as I had the style and height that would be better suited to the German ballet company. But my life took an unexpected turn at this point.
“Well, things aren’t going well here anyway and I’m thinking you should come home early.” he said tersely. I was meant to be at the Royal Ballet School till June. I didn’t want to leave London. I felt at home there. Still, I really had no choice. I wouldn’t be able to stay if my father would not be supportive. The decision was made, and I was to leave London later that week.
I would be going from “Swinging London” to Longmeadow, a provincial suburb of Springfield, MA. I walked over to Lemmys’ to tell him the news. Roger, one of his roommates greeted me at the door and said that Lemmy had gone to Wales. He wasn’t expected back till after I’d be leaving. My heart sunk as I realized I wouldn’t see him again. I don’t remember my thoughts about leaving him in London, but I had a tendency to just accept the circumstances of my life, and I think I had already accepted that Lemmy and I would walk different paths. My feelings for him existed independently, with a life of their own. Intuitively, I knew that this was a spiritual connection rather than a physical one, and that my emotional lot in life was not to be a lonely path, but a path alone.
My parents picked my up at Logan Airport in Boston. They later described their shock at seeing me. I had left Massachusetts looking like Audrey Hepburn in a sweet little coat and pillbox hat. With my American Tourister luggage matching my red turtleneck sweater dress, I was the perfect young girl any parent would be proud of. Now, at 17, I was physically more mature than the 14 year old they’d sent to London. I wore a long flowing silk dress, handmade in Maritius, over “voluminous black trousers”, as my father described them in letter to the Royal Ballet School, and the civil defense “maxi” coat I’d bought on Portabello Road. In one hand was the guitar Lemmy had given me, incongruous with the carry on suitcase I’d left home with, in the other. On my lapel I wore two buttons, saying “I Was A Virgin”, and “Save Water, Shower With A Friend”, ambiguous statements meant to confound and shock my parents, I suppose.
I came home to find that my parents were divorcing, a fact they forgot to mention to me while I was in London. The tension was palpable as we drove home from Boston but they said nothing about it. When we arrived home my father unloaded my luggage onto the lawn, got back in the car and drove off without a goodbye. That’s when my mother finally told me they were getting a divorce, and he was working and living in New York.
It was not a happy homecoming. My life suddenly had no direction. I had no idea what I was supposed to do now. And so began my life without Lemmy for 20 long years, but never did he leave my thoughts. And I never did get that certificate…
Twenty Years Later
(She gave me all her numbers, gave me all her names”).
Too Good To Be True
I am 37 years old, I’m married (to Brian, who was born December 21, 1945, 3 days before Lemmy. He is, in some small ways, similar to Lemmy.) I have 2 children, Sun, 10 years old, and Sylvie, 2 years old. I’ve had an interesting life during these years, though not altogether easy. Those years are best left to another story. Brian is a Vietnam veteran with a PTSD disability, so we have very little money, but it’s OK and I’m enjoying raising my children.
In 1973, before Brian, Sun, and Sylvie were a part of my life, I had gone back to London for a visit, and hoped to find Lemmy, with little expectation of that being possible, or any idea how to go about it, and it was to no avail.
Somewhere around 1982-84, I was hardly old, early thirties, but suddenly coming to the realization that I was getting older, and feeling sad about Lemmy and my youth fading away into the past. I decided to write to the record label “Escalator” was recorded on, to see if I could find Lemmy, but my letter was returned to me, address unknown.
Now, in 1988, with Brian, I had been busy raising children, homeschooling, and (okay, don’t laugh…) listening to Rod Stewart.
It’s amazing to me that I hadn’t hear about Motorhead or Lemmy sooner than this, but there you are.
It was early December. Brian, the kids and I had just gone to Haymarket Cafe’ in Northampton for morning coffee, our daily ritual. Carrying Sylvie in my arms as we walked down Main Street, out of the corner of my eye, as we passed Main Street Records, I saw “Motorhead” in the window. I did a double take, only glancing momentairlily at the silhouettes on the Ace of Spades album cover. (“Who the hell are these three Mexican’s and how do they play so fast?!?” Scott Ian). The only time I’d ever heard the word motorhead was when Lemmy excitedly told me Leo had called him motorhead back in 1968 in Earls Court Station. I kept it to myself for the moment and walked on home with my family. Somehow I knew it was related to Lemmy. Recalling it as I write now, I again feel the nervous anticipation I felt in the pit of my stomach that afternoon after seeing those albums in the window.
As soon as the kids were settled, Sylvie napping and Sun reading, I told Brian I had to get some things for lunch at State Street Market. He was rather controlling, jealous and suspicious, you see. I didn’t want to let on at this point, because it would be an issue whether I ever actually contacted Lemmy or not. I ran up to town, and after staring at the album covers in the window, thinking “that could be Lemmy… those look like his legs”, I went inside and looked for Motorhead albums. I’ll never forget that moment when I picked up an album and slowly turned it over and saw the circular photo of Lemmy on the back. I gasped, realizing it really was him. Maybe I’d actually be able to find him…
Holding the album in my hand, I went up to the counter. “Do you know anything about this band?” I asked. “Oh, she said, they’re kind of a heavy metal band. Their best known song is “Ace of Spades”. They’re playing at the Hartford Civic Center tonight”. Oh my God…Lemmy was less than an hour away from me.
I left the store and slowly walked down the street, thoughts spinning in my head. It wasn’t possible for me to go with my first instinct, jump in the car and drive down there. We had no car, I had no money, I had nothing nice to wear, I had children to care for. Sun was fairly independent at the age of 10, but Sylvie was with me all the time other than when playing with her friends in the park, with the collective of mothers taking turns watching them. Even Brian didn’t spend much time alone with the kids. They were almost always with me.
As I walked towards home wondering what to do I passed by a couple of punk kids sitting on the curb. Both of them wearing black, boots, and leather jackets studded and spiked. They both had long hair, and one of them had a brimmed hat circled with red and white dingleberry trim. (an odd choice!). I didn’t hear what they were saying, just “Lemmy” stood out in the midst of the conversation. This was the first time I’d ever heard anyone say his name other than when I spoke of him to my friends or family. I could hardly believe it. It seemed so strange, just moments after finding the album to hear someone speak his name. It was as if some magical portal had been opened and after being invisible to me for all these years I could now see him.
As I walked home I made a decision. I would call the Hartford Civic Center as soon as I got home and try to connect with Lemmy while he was there. Brian already knew about Lemmy (everyone I knew did). I knew he wouldn’t like it, but I had to do this and Brian would just have to deal with it.
I spoke with a woman who worked in the office. My conversation with her went something like this: “ Hi, I just found out this afternoon that my first love, when I was 16, is playing there tonight with Motorhead. I haven’t seen him in twenty years. Would you please get a message to him?” She was very sweet, and understanding how how I was feeling, said she would be happy to. “Oh thank you so much!” I said. “My name was Cynthia Palcynski back then, and his name was Lemmy Willis. My name is Cynthia Jensen now, and his name is Lemmy Kilmister now. Here’s my phone number….please ask him to call.”
I gave her my number, thanked her sincerely and hung up. I took a deep breath. Would he call? Would he remember me? What will I say?
Actually, I knew what I wanted to say. I wanted to thank him for respecting my innocence. He was 22 when I met him and I was only 16, a big difference in age in the teen years, and he had been a gentleman, always. I think I might have done whatever he wanted, I was so crazy about him, but he was neither aggressive or even assertive. I think Lemmy took my inexperience for apprehension so my experience with him remained sensual rather than sexual.
(“Rings of uncertainty carry you from me, or does your minds eye shed lonely tears?”)
He called the next day.
My friend Barbara was there when he called. I had just met her recently and she was often at my house. We’d drink tea and talk endlessly, often about men, reading tarot cards and using the I Ching. Now, with excited anticipation, we talked of nothing else but Lemmy since I’d left the message the day before. I told her everything, how much he meant to me, so she knew what a big deal this was for me. When the phone rang and I gave her the nod that it was him, she kept Sylvie occupied while I talked to Lemmy.
Surprisingly, I was not nervous when I spoke with him. I think I had no real expectations at this point, I just wanted to talk to him. “ Hello? Is this Cynthia? You left a message for me to call? I’m not sure I know who you are” he said”. “Lemmy, I can’t believe it’s you! You knew me in 1968. In Earls Court when you lived on Philbeach Gardens. I was at the Royal Ballet School” I said. “Hmm, he paused, I knew knew a lot of girls who were ballet dancers back then” he said. My heart sunk, but I said “Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter really…”
“So why did you call?” he asked quickly. He was obviously curious. “I called because I wanted to thank you, I said. I was so young, and crazy in love with you. I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the way you treated me in my innocence. So thank you…for being a gentleman. If he responded to that I don’t recall what he said, but he asked if I’d like to come to see Motorhead. “We’ll be going up to Canada tonight, he said, but we’ll be back in New York in a couple of weeks.” He asked me to hold on while he got the itinerary. “So it looks like we’ll be in Schenectady next” he said. He gave me the name and address of the venue and the date they would be there, none of which I can recall. I thanked him for calling and told him I’d try to come see him and we said goodbye.
I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get to Schenectady to see him, but I felt happy. Talking to him again relieved a bittersweet longing I had lived with for 20 years. This was very exciting, but mostly I felt a sense of peace and contentment in finding him again. And who knows? Maybe there would be some way, somehow, to get there. Barbara and I had a lot to talk about now.
And Barbara and I did talk endlessly about Lemmy now. I wasn’t trying to plan a way to get to Schenectady since I really thought it was impossible.
One afternoon later that week, Barbara and I were sitting at the kitchen table asking questions of the I Ching and Tarot cards when my first husband Bob, and his best friend Richard showed up for a surprise visit. Bob and Richard and I were inseparable in the early 70’s. Richard later married my sister Lauretta, but they were divorced now and I hadn’t seen him in ages. When Barbara heard me say to him ” You won’t believe it Richard, I’ve found Lemmy!!”, she questioned “You mean you’ve been talking about him since then?” Richard exclaimed “God, she’s been talking about him since I met her…what was it, 1969-70 or so? Look at that Sam Gopal album…it was right there on top of the turntable. “She must have played it about a million times!” It was true. The album was painfully scratched, and the cover was falling apart. “Yes, she’s played it for me”, Barbara said, rolling her eyes. I’d played “Escalator” for Barbara several times as I pointed out the words in “Grass” and how it described that first day with him in Richmond Park, and how “Yesterlove” described how I felt about him leaving my life. She wasn’t really being disparaging of my current obsession with Lemmy, she loved this stuff. We talked about the loves of her life all the time. It was one of our favorite subjects.
“Yeah”, Bob chimed in narrowing his eyes, ” I’ve been meaning to say, I’ve got a bone to pick with you about that. You were always talking about Lemmy back when we were together. That kinda sucked.” I sighed and responded. “What can I say, Bob? I’m sorry…” “Well”, he paused looking down at the floor, “what does Brian think about it?”
“He doesn’t like it either” I admitted.
When Brian and I got together I tried to put Lemmy in the past. “Remember the journal I had from when I was a teenager? It had a photo of Lemmy in it that he gave me. “Remember?” I asked looking back and forth at them. Bob and Richard both nodded. They had seen that portrait of Lemmy, young and smiling. “One of the few things I regret is that I threw that journal into the incinerator where Brian and I first lived on Mattoon Street.” I was trying to sort of pledge my devotion to Brian, and put Lemmy firmly in the past by ritually throwing that photo into the fire. The whole book was important to me. It was a lovely poetic and romantic expression of who I was in my youth, but in truth, it was the photo of Lemmy that I was thinking of as I destroyed it. “That was the stupidest thing to do”, I said, shaking my head. “But, Lemmy is always on my mind, always has been. That’s just the way it is.
I had told Brian that I needed to try to find Lemmy a few years ago, and I sent a letter to the recording company, but the letter was returned to me because the company had folded. I knew of no other avenues I could take to find him. I knew nothing of Hawkwind or Motorhead. For all I knew Lemmy was back in Wales raising horses as he’d told me this was something he’d like to do.
“So you didn’t just get in touch with him now because you found out about Motorhead?” Barbara asked. ” No, Barbara, I’ve been crazy about him for 20 years, since the moment I laid eyes on him on Earls Court Road”, I said, ” I just didn’t find him till now.”
Now, I think this part of the story is amazing! It’s a great “Law of Attraction” story. In case you’re not familiar, the theory and science of it is that you can, in fact, manifest what you want in your life if you can access the feeling of receiving it without having an attachment to it manifesting. So, yes, I wished that I could go see Lemmy in New York, but I put that wish out to the Universe and let it go. Thinking it was impossible, I had made peace with it.
But law of attraction, or fate, or luck, if you will, was at work. I got a call from a friend, asking me to meet her in town. Her name was Kathy. She was a wild woman I’d known for years. She had a reputation for being manic and out of control, running around the streets of Northampton causing scenes. It was unusual for Kathy to call me or make any kind of plan to get together. Our relationship came about randomly when I’d run into her on the street or in the cafe’s. Kathy was financially independent, and could be very generous, but also unpredictable, like the time she offered to get milkshakes for everyone in the park, but then left the ice cream shop impatiently while they were in the midst of making them an disappeared.
I was intrigued by this request to meet her. I imagined she had an issue with her boyfriend Robbie that she needed to talk about, and I was happy to help if I could, so we agreed to meet in the park while Sylvie and her friends played. Kathy and I sat on the park bench talking for quite a long time but she never mentioned why she wanted to see me. I took it in stride because that was just Kathy. We eventually transferred to Bart’s, the cafe across the street, and Sylvie fell asleep while Kathy and I talked. Matt, a friend of both of us, joined in our uneventful conversation.
Out of the blue, Kathy looked me in the eye and said “I want to give you some money!”, then she turned to Matt and said “and I’m going to give you some too”. Matt and I looked at each other quizzically, and looked back to Kathy with nothing to say. “Write out your correct names for me”, she said, handing me a slip of paper and pen. Matt and I didn’t question her request, but did what she asked and she left. Finally we looked at each other and I asked Matt “How long do you think we should sit here?” Matt grinned. We both felt the chances of Kathy coming back were slim, but Sylvie had fallen asleep in my arms, so I wasn’t going anywhere right now.
Fifteen minutes later Kathy fairly flew threw the door and handed us each a money order, saying “ Cynthia, give $5,000 to John, will you?” John was a tall good looking black man who wandered around town barefooted most of the year, cleaning the sidewalks and charming the ladies. I had heard that he once worked on Wall Street and had decided to walk away from that life, and here he was, a fixture in Northampton. Technically, I guess he was homeless, but I knew that wasn’t quite the truth because some of the women around town found him very attractive and he always had a place with one of them, primarily with Margie, a friend of mine, because we were both raising children, and had a “hippie” or at least “alternative” lifestyle to some degree, she much more than myself.
Matt and I looked up at her questioningly and in complete surprise as we took the papers from her hand. She ran out the door as fast as she had come. We had no time to thank her or question her. She was gone.
We looked at the checks in our hands. Matts’ check was for $20,000, and mine was for $40,000. “Can this be real?” we both wondered. “What should we do? I asked Matt. Do you think she’ll come back? Should we go to the bank? I don’t even have any identification with me” I mused.
“Okay”, Matt suggested, “ let’s go to the bank together and see. I’ll hold Sylvie while you go get your license, and we’ll go to the bank right now”. That sounded like a good plan, so I laid Sylvie gently in his lap, and ran like to wind all the way home to grab my license.
Brian was at the sink washing dishes when I ran into the kitchen, grabbed my wallet, and headed for the door. “What’s going on” he asked, “where’s Sylvie?’. “She’s asleep with Matt Hershler up at Barts’. Kathy just gave me a check for $40,000, and she gave Matt a check for $20,000. Matt and I are going to the bank”. Brian dropped the bowl in the sink. I kept going, and ran out the door without further explanation, mostly because I wasn’t used to leaving Sylvie like that and I didn’t want her to wake up before I returned.
Sylvie was still blissfully asleep when I got back to Bart’s. I gathered her up and Matt and I walked down to the bank the money orders were drawn on on the corner of King and Main Street. (What was that now defunct bank called?”)
We sat primly, and yet breathless, in front of the bank lady who asked “So what can I do for you today?” Matt said “ a friend of ours just gave us these money orders for no apparent reason.” We handed them to her. “Can we open accounts?” She looked at the money orders, and then at us as if to say “ Yeah, right” with a besmirched look on her face, and carried on dryly with business of opening up accounts for us and depositing the money. When she had finished asking us all the questions, filling out all the forms and getting our signatures she handed each of us the paperwork. “So…Can we have some of the money then?” Matt asked. “Of course” she said without expression, “how much do you want?” We looked at each other and I said “a $1,000 dollars?” Matt nodded and responded that that sounded good. Walking out of the bank, money in hand, we now knew it was for real.
This “simple twist of fate” made it possible for me to go see Lemmy again after 20 long years.
Now all I had to do was buy something to wear, rent a car, get a babysitter, and somehow appease my jealous husband…Ha!
I went out and bought, a short, black, high necked sweater dress which showed my shape, without being obvious. I was more interested in showing off my legs, my best feature. More than one man has actually followed me down the street because of my legs, and my graceful walk. The best compliment I’ve ever gotten was from an old boyfriend who wrote to me years later saying “I still wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night thinking about your legs”
I found black patent leather heels, and a belt to match with a beautiful silver buckle, a Coach bag, and a long black coat with big shoulders as was popular in the 80’s, very elegant.
As I pondered the conversation I would have to have with Brian I meant to make it clear that I wouldn’t take no for an answer, but actually I didn’t ask the question, I simply told him I was going to go see Lemmy, and that was it.
I’d never have left Sylvie overnight and she was still nursing , so she was coming with me, along with her friend Shannon, another adorable 2 year old, and Laurie, Shannon’s mother. Laurie landed in Northampton as a mother in hiding from an extremely abusive relationship. No one knew her real name or where she came from so as to keep her safe from Shannon’s father. She was part of a group of mothers and children housed and protected in our neighborhood. All of our kids played together in the park everyday, the mothers sharing childcare. Laurie knew who Lemmy was and knew Motorhead’s music, so she was excited and happy to help. I too, was happy to have someone to share this with.
It was a cold, dismal December day. The skies were grey, and the lands were icy. It was a long uneventful drive to Schenectady, but I felt free!! With the money I now had, I no longer had to scrounge around for every necessity. We could do whatever we wanted and take care of any need. Laurie would keep the kids occupied at the hotel while I went to visit Lemmy and see Motorhead. I knew Sylvie and Shannon would be perfectly happy playing together and then drop off to sleep!
Laurie and I checked into the hotel and I quickly got dressed. Laurie saw me off with thumbs up and crossed fingers, and I drove to the bar where Motorhead where was playing. It was a stereo-typical country roadside bar, dark, with low ceilings, nothing at all to distinguish it. I told the man at the door that I was there to see Lemmy. “Well, I don’t see him at the bar” he said as he scanned the room, “he’s probably on the bus. Give me a minute and I’ll take you out there”
I waited patiently, oblivious to the band on stage or the bar scene. I was completely wrapped up in my own thoughts.
To say I was nervous would be an understatement… an exaggerated understatement. Throughout the twenty eight years after that day that I would go to see Lemmy, it never really changed. Sometimes it was easier than others, but try as I might to be casual about seeing him, I could never really pull it off. I remember one time taking Sylvie with me to a show when she was about 16 years old. We had stopped at a restaurant just before arriving at the venue to take a moment after the long drive. Sitting in the car, ready to proceed, she watched me questioningly, wondering what was going on. I took deep breaths trying to maintain my composure. I remember saying to her, “ Sylvie, you will never, ever, see me as nervous as I am right now. Lemmy just has that effect on me.”
Now the guy was walking me to a back door. As he opened it he said “This way.” He escorted me to the bus and knocked on the door. Philthy Animal Taylor answered the door. “There’s someone here to see Lemmy” the guy told him. Philthy stepped aside with a nod for me to come in. I walked into the brightly lit bus. Lemmy was sitting at the table playing chess with one of the crew. There was no exclamation of “Oh, I remember you!!” as I came into the bus. He kind of looked me up and down though, as he took a drag off his cigarette and stood up. “Hi…take a seat”, he said motioning to the upholstered tour bus couch. “Would you like a drink? “Yes”, I replied, “thank you” “Jack n’coke?” he asked. “Sure, that would be great” I said. “I would have washed my hair if I knew you were coming” Lemmy said as he smoothed his hair. He poured a drink, handed it to me, then sat back down at the table. I sat across the aisle sipping the drink and watched Lemmy as he continued the witty banter with his mates over the chess game. I leaned back and crossed my legs, doing my best to appear nonchalant. I noticed his sideways glances at me, as if he was trying to figure out who I was, why I was there, and whether he was interested.
He had changed, of course. He was wearing black jeans and shirt, one dangling earring, a chain with a dagger pointing downwards, and his quintessential white boots. He acted differently from the 22 year old I knew in 1968. It was a subtle difference. He seemed bolder, confident. He had in his 20‘s been, somehow, quietly refined. Now he seemed more…American? You know the cliche’ that men act differently with women when around other men, and sweeter to a woman when alone with her? Like in “Grease” when John Travolta’s character sees Sandy for the first time at school in front of his friends. It felt a bit like that. As light conversation continued, I thought “Well, this isn’t as I hoped it would be”. Still, I was glad I came. “Look, that kid’s trying to get your attention!” I pointed out to Lem. A fan outside the bus kept jumping up to look in the window. The kid motioned to me to get Lemmy’s attention, so I called his attention to the kid. He ignored the kid, saying matter-of-factly “I can’t be there for every fan all the time”
Then the energy shifted. Lemmy got up and invited me into the back of the bus. I followed him past the bunks lining the unlit corridor to the “Bunker”. The little room in the back of the bus had cushioned seats all around, giving it the appearance of being round. The tables were cluttered with Lemmy’s stuff, his briefcase open on the table.
Lemmy invited me to sit and poured me another drink. He sat down next to me. He proudly showed me lyrics he was writing. This was just like it was 20 years ago when he’d show me his artwork or play riffs for me. We sat there together not speaking much. He was trying to keep the conversation going while I sat nervously trying to think of something to say. He pointed to my cheek where I had a slight rash. “I know” I said, it’s nerves”. “Do I make you nervous? he asked. “You do”, I said with a sigh of relief at being able to admit it.
Unexpectedly, as I was speaking, he leaned over to me and kissed me. He had literally “taken me” off guard. Everything in me just gave over to him. That kiss melted me away. And yet when he backed away I kept talking, finishing my sentence where I had left off. I have always done ridiculous things like that around Lemmy. I can’t think straight when he’s near.
He got up and went across the room and lit a cigarette. With the cigarette hanging from his lips he made another drink for himself. He glanced at me from across the tiny room as he took a drink of his Jack and Coke. And then he was in front of me on his knees. He grabbed one of my knees, pushed it aside and moved in close to me, his arms enveloping me around the waist, as my legs closed in around his. My arms wrapped around his neck, our cheeks melded and we held together there as if we were frozen in time. He kissed me again now, a long loving, passionate kiss. As he kissed me I felt my whole body vibrating as though a train was rushing through us. I actually heard the roaring of the train, and it was as if the whole room was lit up with the headlights of the train. It was the most intense moment of my life. I’ve never felt anything like that before or since. My whole body was electrified. I felt entranced by him.
He put his hands on my hips and pulled my body toward him. He was clearly wanting more. He moved towards me and kissed me again. At this point, the reality of my life took hold. “Lemmy, I can’t…I’m married” I whispered.
That I stopped him in that moment is the only real regret I have in my life. He slowly stood up and turned away, saying nothing. We regained our composure, as we returned from that ephemeral place. We continued in conversation, and I told him again how appreciative I was of how he treated me in London. I wanted him to know, in no uncertain terms, how much it meant to me. I told him how much in love with him I had been, that I’d never stopped loving him, and that I thought about him all the time. I told him it seemed miraculous to me to find him again. We reminisced about London, Earls Court Road, and the 60‘s. He told me that Sam Gopal had become an arrogant, self centered bastard, that Roger had wed. He hadn’t seen Leo or Noddy in years.
I picked up a silver oval with a cowboy/Native American look to it. “It’s got some interesting colors” I noted to him as I examined it. “ Oh, I did that” Lemmy said,” “with markers. You can have it if you like” He took out a Motorhead publicity shot, one of those glossy black and white ones. On it he wrote: ”To Cyn, Yoo Hoo, 20th Anniversary! Love, Lem”. Interestingly, the colors Lemmy had painted on the medallion “wore off as time wore on” while the black and white photo took on those same the colors over the years.
Now someone knocked on the door and told Lemmy it was nearly time to go on. We left the bus and walked to the club. Lemmy had walked on ahead of me, not noticing me gingerly walking on the slippery ground in those stupid patent leather heels. When we got inside we went right backstage. It was dark, with only the light on the stage in the distance. The road crew was at work finishing setting up for the band. Lemmy had me backed against the stacks of black leather equipment cases. Cigarette in one hand over my head, leaning on the wall of cases, the other around my waist, looking deeply into my eyes, he kept kissing me. The sexual tension between us was tangible, and I imagined, almost wished, we’d be caught Inflagrante Delicto right then and there standing against the wall. I can hardly think about it…
“It’s driving me crazy, the way you keep biting your lip” he commented. “If you’re still here when we finish playing, you know what were gonna do”, he said. “Uh…I, I …” I stammered, not knowing what to say. “Well,” Lem said, “come see me any time”. He gave me a quick kiss and headed onstage. As he walked away he looked back, pointing at me and added “but don’t bring any guys with you”. I watched the band play for a while and then slipped out the back door into the darkness.
28 Years with Motorhead Begins
And so began a new life of sorts for me. Again, just like when I first met Lemmy, he was all that I could think of. How was I to reconcile this preoccupation with my life with a husband and children?
to be continued…