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An Illustrated Tribute to Lemmy Kilmister

We put together 13 illustrations by various artists to honor the late, great Motörhead founder, who died Monday.

Lemmy's 70th birthday was a few days ago. I remember thinking, Wow, I can't believe Lemmy's 70. Then four days later he was dead. Lemmy started playing rock 'n' roll in the early 60s and continued up until this month, being drunk and high all the while. He was the epitome of the concept of a rock 'n' roller as a figure who is sort of outside society and survives despite self-destructive habits, like a modern hunger artist. It's hard to name people who could be considered Lemmy's peers. Keith Richards seems the closest, but the Rolling Stones were embraced by the sophisticated set pretty early on in a way that Lemmy's group never really could be. Rock 'n' roll is increasingly played by nostalgia acts, and its participants seem less rebellious and more like alternative boy bands while coopting the imagery of rebellion. I don't know if it's sad that Lemmy died. He lived longer than seemed plausible, and he seemed to do what he loved for over 50 years straight. What's sad is that we don't get to have Lemmy anymore, and the void that's left by his absence is going to suck.

I asked professional and amateur artists to submit drawings of and a few words about Lemmy to honor his memory because that's what makes sense to me. I received about 100 submissions, and I'm presenting the 13 best here, along with one tribute Lemmy doll. The first one, by Jay Howell, is up top. I did one, too.

Andrew Black

"If God and Lemmy got in a wrestling match who would win? Lemmy? [Buzzer noise] God? [Buzzer noise] Wrong again, trick question. Lemmy is God." —Airheads

James Harvey

Benjamin Marra

Lemmy embodied rock 'n' roll. Rock 'n' roll is something in short supply in the world, and Lemmy held onto it like a vise. If all of us were a little more like Lemmy, and lived as much as he did, we'd all probably be happier for it. Now that he's gone, it feels like rock 'n' roll is gone, too.

Judi Rosen

I have always had an affinity for psych rock. I think Hawkwind and Motörhead were such a part of the culture I surrounded myself with that I sorta took the music for granted. I learned about Stacia Blake and was really inspired by the idea that she was considered a member of Hawkwind. Sure seems like the subculture was a lot more progressive back then.

Garrett Morlan

My earliest memory of Lemmy was listening to "Ace of Spades" in my brother's room, hoping we wouldn't get caught by our parents.

The raw power, intricate simplicity, and pure authenticity of Motörhead's sound and Lemmy's rhythm and whiskey- and smoke-stained vocals (along with his hard and striking appearance) had something I had never heard or seen before even while listening to Sabbath and early Metallica albums.

Lemmy is near the top of my list of my earliest inspirations to pick the up bass myself, and is one of the all time greats!

Lemmy, you lived and played hard and fast—rock on in peace!

Kjelshus Collins

Nicholas Gazin

I drew the press clipping announcing the formation of Motörhead. I find it inspirational.

Sean Äaberg

I owe a lot to Lemmy. When I was trying to figure out what road to take in life and with my family, Lemmy made it very clear that rock 'n' roll can be a lifelong pursuit, passion, and way of life, and that hanging back to the rock 'n' roll crossroads where all of the fractured fairytales of metal, punk, and the like meet was THE WAY and that you could do that and still be more badass and more "punk" and "metal" than any punks or metalheads. RIP LEMMY.

Brian Butler

After three days at sea, somewhere on the edge of the Bermuda triangle, I witnessed Lemmy summon all the powers of Poseidon to rock out to around 2,000 sunburned metalheads. I was assigned the duty of illustrating the debauchery aboard the Motörhead Motorboat cruise, and it was a responsibility I took very seriously. Over the course of four days, I documented grown men dressed as demon chickens, cannonball contests, seaweed pentagrams, loads of drunks, boobs, performances by the likes of Slayer, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, and the Shrine, and even heard rumor of 5 AM cake fights and improvised glory holes. This was a journey that only the mighty Motörhead could navigate, with Lemmy at the helm. It was an honor to have served.

Dave Berns

Seventy years jammed with doing whatever the fuck he wanted and flourishing so mightily is a victory no matter how you slice it... We lost a bad motherfucker. Thankfully he remains in all the awesome he created.

Arlo Ramirez

I wouldn't call myself a big fan. But I appreciated the impact that Lemmy created in the music scene. And I lived vicariously through friends who got to meet with him or play a show with him personally. Lemmy was definitely one of a kind, a living cartoon character I would say (he's really fun to draw), and I'm just surprised that he didn't die sooner. Too bad I'm not dead to see that wrestling match.

Scott Wygmans

I have loved Motörhead for years and years. Their lyrics, music, imagery, and tenacity will live on forever. Lemmy, may you ride on eternal atop an iron steed, through Valhalla skies. Rest in peace, you are missed.

Oliver Barrett

Whenever I hear the term "rips" or "ripper," I immediately think of Lemmy. I wasn't much of a fan outside of the first riff on "Ace of Spades" until a few years ago, when I saw them live, opening for Iron Maiden. Seeing those moles in person really grabbed my attention. Oh, and as a bass player, that nasty tone he's got is something I've been ripping off for years. I'm somehow shocked but not shocked at his passing. He's one of those guys that seemed like he'd outlive all of us.