Lemmy Kilmister, lead singer and bass player for Motorhead once said, “If (Motorhead) moved in next door to you, your lawn would die.”
Back in 1981, that would have been enough to sell me but, after hearing the band’s ultra-hard song “Ace of Spades” on Q107’s Midnight Metal Hour, my friend Alfie Petitti and I agreed….we had to see Motorhead live.
Lemmy, Philthy Animal Phil Taylor and Fast Eddie Clarke were booked at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. The first show sold out so a second one was booked on the same night, which meant double duty for Motorhead, and opening act, Anvil.
To this day, the loudest concert I’ve ever experienced. Motorhead, slagged by some of their detractors as “having nothing to say and 10,000 watts to say it with,” hit us with massive sound waves that seemed to push us against the backs of our seats (we were standing, of course). My ears rang for three days afterwards.
We lived in the moment and couldn’t have imagined what might transpire for the band five years later, much less twenty or thirty.
Had you told me Motorhead would go from critical punching bags to cool, rock and roll survivors revered by future generations of hard rock bands (and “I actually liked them all along” critics) and been included in Ned Schniebly’s list of bands his students had to listen to in “School of Rock,” well, I would have laughed. They would forever be the Rodney Dangerfields of rock and roll…no respect.
As for Steve “Lips” Kudrow and Toronto’s own Anvil, who could have predicted their future? Short-term success. Dying on a small label, obscurity, “whatever happened to…” and, to quote Wayne Campbell, ending up in “the delete bin of life, next to Mahogany Rush.”
And then…the documentary in 2008.
Critics loved it, even if they weren’t hard rock fans and had never heard of Anvil. It was a story of survival and never giving up on a dream despite having friends, family, record companies and everyone not named Lips or (drummer) Robb Reiner telling them to pack it in.
Many lawns have died since that night in 1981 but Motorhead and Anvil are still peeling the plaster off the walls of clubs and theatres. Eliciting more postive responses from music fans and writers than they did three decades ago.
Cheers to you, Lemmy! Long may you rock, Lips! You beat the odds and, to steal another line from Jack Black’s character in “The School of Rock,” you stuck it to the man.