It was one of the most bizarre requests I’ve ever had. “Hey HoJo. You know Lemmy, dontcha? Think he’d give us his warts?” I say whaaaattttt?
The fella asking the question was called Greg Gutfeld. Crazy name, crazy guy. Gutfeld had just arrived in London fresh from editing American gadget mag Stuff to take up the reins at lad mag Maxim, where I’d been doing some ‘consulting’. To clarify: in the world of magazine journalism ‘consulting’ often means turning up twice a week to pick up a decent day rate from an editor mate who’s taken pity on you after you’ve been given the boot from somewhere else.
Anyway, God knows how much excess baggage Gutfeld must have paid at Heathrow, judging by the massive amount of ego he brought over from the States with him. But despite most of his ideas being about as useful as a wet paper bag (‘You Ask The Horse’? Don’t ask!), this Lemmy business intrigued me.
The idea, it transpired, was this. Indisputable fact. Lemmy’s got some pretty ugly old warts. Disputable fact. Gutfeld appeared to have unlimited editorial budget. So why not get Lemmy to have his warts surgically removed at Maxim’s expense. In return Maxim would write a feature on the experience – and give away the warts to a lucky competition winner! In some of twisted, sicko way I have to say it was genius.
So what happened? To tell the truth I can’t say with any certainty. Before I’d even managed to get a hold of the Motörhead legend old Greg had told me I was no longer required at Maxim and that the Johnson gravy train was about to come to a grinding halt! Fair enough. Arriving at a magazine and sacking all the staff is a traditional enough sport. But the whole Lemmy caper might founder now. After all, there was no-one else at Maxim who cared enough about metal music to chase a bunch of warts!
I can only assume that the idea foundered on the rocks. As far as I know Lemmy’s warts are still hanging to his face. And in a way I’m kind of glad. After all, those warts are as much part of Lemmy’s 100% rock and rolliness as the iron cross, the walrus moustache, the cowboy boots – from which he once produced a lovely Bowie knife on which to serve to me something illegal – and the Rickenbacker bass set to stun.
Lemmy is a legend. The phrase ‘keeping it real’ was invented for him. He got me into this rock business in the first place. Motörhead was my first ever rock gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall back in 1978. He saved me from my parents, who’d inexplicably taken it upon themselves to buy me my first ever concert tickets earlier that same year. The act? Boney M! You can see why Lemmy will always hold a special place in my heart for helping me plot my escape from pop hell! And whenever I‘ve met him down the years he’s always been the perfect gentleman. His laconic attitude and his love of both the music he makes and the life he leads is inspirational in a world that seems to be getting more fake by the day. Hats off Lemmy – and say hello to the warts!
PS: In case you’re wondering, Greg Gutfeld didn’t last too long at Maxim, but recently turned up back in New York hosting a TV show which featured The Wildhearts’ Ginger not so long ago. Have a look at him for yourself if you fancy it by clicking here.
HoJo rocked as a top journalist on legendary UK metal magazine
Kerrang! and now runs a way-cool rock T-shirt site at www.saltyrockz.com.