Triple H Pays Tribute to Lemmy, Shares Funny Backstage Story | Revolver

Triple H Pays Tribute to Lemmy, Shares Funny Backstage Story

"You're perfect for Motörhead — you can't win," Lemmy once told him
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December 28th, 2015, was a bad day for rock & roll. That was the date Motörhead bassist, vocalist and all-around mastermind Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister left this earthly plane — just four days after his 70th birthday. And while Motörhead were obviously one of the greatest bands of all time, Lemmy was so much more than a musician or frontman. With a Jack-and-Coke in one hand and a smoke in the other, he could hold forth on anything from the Beatles (whom he actually saw live) and Jimi Hendrix (for whom he roadied and scored acid) to World War II (he was something of an expert on the subject) and life in general. All with incisive wit, humor and outlaw attitude.

To commemorate the passing of this one-of-a-kind human, we reached out to folks who knew and/or admired him. So we checked in with Lemmy's longtime friend Paul Levesque, otherwise known as pro wrestler Triple H, who is also WWE's Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy & Development. Motörhead performed no less than three entrance themes for Triple H over the years — "The Game," "King Of Kings" and "Line In The Sand" — even playing live before H's matches at WrestleMania X-Seven and WrestleMania 21. Levesque returned the favor by making a spoken-word cameo on Motörhead's 2002 track "Serial Killer," and the two remained friends until Lemmy's death.

As a kid growing up, heavy music and hard rock was kind of my thing. I think the first album I got was Black Sabbath's Paranoid. The second one was KISS's Double Platinum. I had a friend that worked at a record store, so I got turned on to Motörhead pretty early. I just loved the sound and the raw energy of it. There was no gimmick to it. No offense to any other bands, because I liked all this stuff, but it wasn't people wearing saw blades in their crotch, you know? It was guys that looked like you might not wanna meet them.

I was at a point in my career where I was changing my image and changing my music, and WWE kept asking me what I wanted it to sound like. In our business, music is what the soundtrack to what we do. It's no different than a movie — what your music sounds like and what it makes you feel kind of establishes what your character is before you do anything.

So I kept saying I wanted something raw and guttural, but everything they showed me was like, "That isn't it." Then they asked me for an example and I said, "I want it to sound like Motörhead." Our executive producer at the time said, "Let's see if they'll do it." I didn't realize that was an option. [Laughs] So they reached out to Lem and Motörhead and they said yes.

It's funny because I found out later that he wasn't a wrestling fan and wasn't familiar with who I was. At first he wasn't feeling the song they sent him, but then they sent him some video of me and he said, "I can do that." So Lemmy and the band took the song and rewrote it a little bit and recorded it. We met at that point, but didn't really hang out until a few years later when they asked me to do a spoken track with Lemmy on Hammered called "Serial Killer." So I went to the studio out in L.A., and in typical Motörhead fashion, it was slightly disorganized. [Laughs] Mikkey was gone — he'd already done the drum tracks — and Phil was finishing up his stuff. So Lemmy and I basically sat around for a whole day, and we really hit it off.

We talked a little bit about our careers and the things in it, but Lemmy was a deep guy. He talked a lot about philosophy. I quote him all the time because things would come up that he'd have these clever little quips for, or way of looking at things. [Life] was simple for Lem, in a way. That's what I admired about him. He didn't [care] about what anybody thought. That started our friendship, which carried through to his last days.

We'd have a show at the Staples Center in L.A., and Lem would come. Right before my match, they'd bring him out ringside and I'd stop and see him. I'm the bad guy, so most of the time I'd get beat and he'd say, "You're perfect for Motörhead — you can't win." And then he'd go sit in the limo and wait for me to come out. We'd hang out — one time he had Billy Gibbons with him — and talk for a couple hours. [Laughs] And then he'd say, "Well, I'm outta here." When he was done talking, he'd let you know.

The last time I saw him, Corey Graves and I did an interview with him at the Rainbow, and he was kind of alluding to me, "I'm at the end." He knew. When we were heading out of the Rainbow, he didn't wanna leave. And he never did that.

When he was in the hospital, [Motörhead manager] Todd [Singerman] called me and said that Lem had a small list of people that he wanted to see one more time. He said, "Is there any way you can get out here and see him before he goes?" I had TV that day, but I told him I'd get on a plane as soon as I was done and come out there. Then he called me back a few hours later and said, "He's gone."

Yeah, I think we were at Roseland in New York. We were backstage and he told me to come stand on the side of the stage for their set. He said, "Take a look out there tonight. All these kids and young people here — that's because of you. We didn't have that before. It was becoming the old folks' show. As soon as we did your entrance theme, these kids started getting into us." For him to say that meant a lot, because the idea that I contributed to anything of theirs is just mind-blowing to me.

I told this story at his funeral, but I went to see him on the tour with Dio and Maiden. I'd never been backstage with those bands before, but they're all older and sipping wine and stuff like that. It's very calm — an older, wiser rock & roll environment. Then we walk down the hall to Lem's room, and my wife is with me. So Todd knocks and opens the door a little bit, and Lem is wearing a towel around his head like a turban, no shirt on, and I can see two topless women on the couch, booze and other paraphernalia everywhere. Todd goes, "Hey Lem, H is here. You got time?" So Lem goes, "Yeah, yeah, bring him in." And then Todd says, "Steph is with him." Lem is like, "Oh, hold on a second."

So the door closes, five minutes go by, and then Lem pops his head out, "Come on in!" He's still got the turban on his head, but his shirt is back on, the girls have clothes on, and they're leaving. The drugs are all cleaned up, the booze bottles are stacked up neatly ... [Laughs] He totally changed the environment, just out of respect for my wife. That's how he was. He was always a gentleman.