Book Review: White Line Fever by Lemmy (with Janiss Garza)

Lemmy is one of my all time rock heroes, so when I saw a copy of this a while back I had to get it.

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This book is extremely fun. Like the man himself it’s kinda sleazy and a drug fueled, booze soaked, rough around the edges gem.

Charting his early wayward years through the emerging UK rock scene, a period of fluctuating band line-ups and an incestuous community where band members traded places and lovers regularly. It charts his time with Hawkwind and his expulsion from that group which led to the formation of Motorhead, the band Lemmy has fronted since the 70s and what he is most famous for. It follows Motorhead as they try to get going, achieve popularity, stumble and then assume their place as one of rock’s most iconic and legendary groups.

The way it’s written suggests that Lemmy sat down with his collaborator and just told his life story, with Garza probably then doing some research and cobbling it all together, but it’s still got the vibe of an old rocker sitting down and telling war stories. It follows a loosely chronological structure, but freewheels in places, with Lemmy telling the odd story out of place and jumping around a bit.

The stories from the road are the best bits, capturing the surreal, shambolic lifestyle of a traveling band and there’s no shortage of amusing anecdotes and wild stories. There’s chaos and mistakes and enough brushes with death to make it a miracle that so many of the players involved are still with us.

At times Lemmy comes across as a bit of a curmudgeon, and there are little rants about record labels, law enforcement and other issues, but he keeps these brief and his anger is usually understandable.

There’s a streak of raw honesty throughout, leaving me wondering how some of the supporting players must’ve felt when they read about themselves. He’s never shy about voicing his dislike of someone, and there’s also a streak of displeasure towards the modern world and a sense of things being better in his day, but it’s delivered with passion and venom rather than griping, and it never overshadows or ruins the tone or pace of the novel.

Sure, there are elements of self-mythology and there’s very little deep personal insight, but that’s to be expected and Lemmy seems to have realized that sometimes it’s better to print the legend.

lemmy

Verdict: An entertaining look into the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of one of rock’s true icons, it’s a thoroughly fun read and loaded with strange tales. Lemmy is a great storyteller, happy to play up to his image as a hellraiser and his unrepentant, joyous remembrances are charming and hugely enjoyable. 7/10

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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