Lemmy Kilmister wrote music that sounded like war. He did it for 40 years, juiced up on amphetamines, Tennessee whiskey and a thirst for military history.
The legendary British Motörhead frontman is what his former manager Todd Singerman now describes as the “Elvis or Beatles of his genre,” which is hard-hitting rock & roll (or heavy metal, depending on who you ask). But between 1990 and his death in December 2015, he also was one of L.A.'s most accessible rock royals, spending the laziest part of his days over at the Rainbow Bar & Grill, drinking Jack Daniel's with Coke and playing video poker at the corner of the patio bar.
Lemmy's stool is still there, empty now, along with his touchscreen video game and a temporary black ceramic shrine. But next week, Lemmy's corner will be occupied by a six-foot, 300-pound bronze statue of the rocker sculpted by local artist and Motörhead fan Travis Moore.
“I'm doing this all for free, man,” says Moore, a Texan who used to work the door at West Hollywood club the Abbey. He's a prolific artist who's also been commissioned to do works for the likes of Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx.
According to Moore, he was commissioned to create the statue when he reached out to Rainbow owner Mikael Maglieri, a longtime friend, and asked to be included on the short list of names being considered for the prestigious task of immortalizing Lemmy. “He's been my benefactor in so many ways,” says Moore, referring to Maglieri, who's been a patron of Moore's since 2006.
Moore says he listened to Chuck Berry and Motörhead during the design process of the Lemmy statue, which he's been working on since February, first in his studio in Hollywood, and now in Burbank. It all happened because local musician Katon DePena, the unofficial spokesman for the campaign to give Lemmy his own statue, helped raise $22,771 through a crowdfunding campaign to pay for its construction and installation.
Working with Maglieri, Lemmy's estate and Motörhead management, Moore began to sketch out ideas for what would become the Lemmy statue. It now sits in a secret location at the Rainbow, in a wooden crate, before being cracked open for the grand unveiling next Wednesday, Aug. 24.
According to Moore, the statue's design was based on a photograph taken by legendary rock photographer Robert John. Initially, Moore had several renderings that were being considered, including one of Lemmy sitting at the bar. But ultimately the decision was made to go with John's now-classic publicity shot, minus the lit cigarette.
In order to capture the intricacies of the stitching in Lemmy's jacket, hat and boots, Moore had to look through dozens of fashion catalogs and photos of the rocker. At one point, he even contacted Lemmy's bootmaker, Pascal Davayat, to help him reconstruct the design. After the final clay miniature was completed, Moore spent months coordinating the process of scaling the statue to size with a company based in Utah, Big Statues. There's also a plan to create a bronze Lemmy “Murder One” Marshall bass amp stack next to the shrine, which will feature an Ace of Spades plaque listing the names of all 900 donors. Moore expects this to be ready by the unveiling.
Lemmy's stack is going to include the words from his Ace of Spades tattoo: “Born to lose, live to win.”
Singerman insists Motörhead's management never interfered in Moore's design process. “This is for the fans. Nothing corporate,” he says. “Not the label, nothing. This is a fan thing and we tried to stay out of the way.” He adds that there are plans to expand the tribute with a “Lemmy Lounge,” which will temporarily live at the Rainbow and possibly become the actual bar inside a separate “Motörhead Bar & Grille,” which Singerman says he's working on, along with a major Lemmy tribute concert and a Motörhead museum that will house some of Lemmy's musical and military memorabilia.
“He would always say, at every show, 'Don't forget us, we are Motörhead, and we play rock & roll,'” Singerman says. “That's my job now.”
In celebration of the unveiling, Moore and company have organized three events next week, beginning with a Motörhead tribute at the Whisky a Go-Go's Ultimate Jam Night, followed by the unveiling of the statue on Wednesday at 7 p.m. On Thursday, Moore will host an art show at the Art on Scene gallery dubbed “Lemmy Kilmister: A Tribute to the Master,” at 8521 W. Sunset Blvd., less than a mile from the Rainbow.
“Lemmy was a good guy who helped a lot of people along the way, in a lot of ways,” says Moore. “He's kind of helping me out from beyond the grave.”