Cro-Mags' Harley Flanagan: "Without Motörhead I Would Not Be Me" | Revolver

Cro-Mags' Harley Flanagan: "Without Motörhead I Would Not Be Me"

Hardcore icon sounds off on incalculable impact of Lemmy and Company
harley flanagan lemmy by frank white, Frank White Photography
Lemmy and Harley Flanagan
photograph by Frank White Photography

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Motörhead occupy rarefied air in the heavy-music world. Led by the inimitable Lemmy Kilmister, they emerged out of London's early Seventies heavy-psych, space-rock scene (epitomized by Lem's acid-drenched previous band Hawkwind) and quickly secured their mythical reputation as speed-fueled, road-worn rock & roll icons thanks to their tireless touring and god-tier songs like "Ace of Spades," "Overkill" and more.

Motörhead's uncompromising outlaw spirit and singular hard-hitting sound appealed to punks, NWOBHM fanatics, thrash kids and beyond — and many of these fans would go on to become rock stars themselves, including the Metallica guys, Max Cavalera, Lzzy Hale and Dave Grohl to name just a few. For 40 years, from their 1975 formation and 1977 self-titled debut to 2015's swansong Bad Magic, Lemmy led his band through all types of ups and downs … but Motörhead never let up, until the day Lemmy passed away on December 28th, 2015 (only weeks after he performed his final live show).

Motörhead left the world with so many great songs that continue to inspire generations of heavy-music fans — including Cro-Mags founder Harley Flanagan, who also has some cherished personal memories of Lemmy and the band.

In his tribute essay below, the hardcore icon explains why it's impossible to pick just one favorite Motörhead song and reveals, among other things, why Lemmy and Company were both a "terrible influence on me in so many ways … and one of the greatest influences musically."

"Well let me start by saying, it's impossible for me to pick one Motörhead song or even one Motörhead album to talk about because there are so many classics. How do you even pick a favorite album, they are constantly fighting each other to a draw in my brain and on my playlist; whether it's Bomber vs Overkill or Ace of Spades vs whichever one it's against at that moment. Fuck, even Another Perfect Day, which some hated, and I also loved Inferno, Orgasmatron and so many others.

"From the first album On Parole to Bad Magic, how do you ever pick one album or one song from such a strong catalog? The other day I listened to Iron Fist for the first time in a while and damn... what an album and what a song. It was the follow up to Ace of Spades. It had that same power, that same drive but damn, those first two opening words! Holy fuck. That man didn't give a fuck."

"They were that first rock & roll crazed meth-hybrid of punk, metal and pure rock & roll. First band I ever did speed with when I was 15, partied with and so on. But no, besides being a terrible influence on me in so many ways they were one of the greatest influences musically. Without Motörhead I would not be me or write or play the way I do."

"I was lucky enough to tour with them and to know them very well from the 80s till the end and was honored to have Phil Campbell, one of my favorite guitarists on earth, play on a Cro-Mags song "From the Grave" on the 2020 album In the Beginning. I have a huge painting of Lemmy done by the artist Victor Pinheiro on my wall looking at me every day in my living room; he and Motörhead still inspire me everyday. The motherfucker is looking at me on my wall right now as I write these words and listen to random Motörhead tracks on my YouTube playlist. Motörhead banger for life!"

harley flanagan lemmy painting by victor pinheiro, Harley Flanagan
Harley Flanagan with Lemmy painting by Victor Pinheiro
Courtesy of Harley Flanagan