Lemmy of Motörhead Recalls a Near-Death Experience in Newfoundland

Long before the late Lemmy Kilmister captained the loudest cruise in the world on the Motörboat, he and the rest of the Motörhead crew struggled with their sea legs on a cold and rough boat ride in the Atlantic in the late 1980’s.

Last year we shared a cassette bootleg of Motörhead opening for Alice Cooper in St. John’s, Newfoundland from the Live in the Flesh Tour in 1988. Motörhead fans were mourning the loss of the legendary Lemmy Kilmister, and the reaction to the bootleg was a mixed praise from the folks who were there and got to relive the monumental moment, as well as the curious younger fans who knew very little about the hard rock heavyweights gracing their home province.

The dialogue that was initiated by the St. John’s bootleg spawned a flurry of anecdotes from that frigid February 3rd evening when outlaw rock n’ roll royalty invaded the island. Some people reminisced about temporary hearing loss the next day in high school, while others even recalled sharing a glass of Jack and a Marlboro with Lemmy and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor backstage.

The Bootleg Cassette, Photo by Rennie Squires

All in all, the tape jogged some memories, including our own. We knew there was a Newfoundland mention in White Line Fever: The Autobiography of Lemmy Kilmister, so we revisited the 2002 book for a hard thumbing to find the exact excerpt pertaining to the winter tour pitstop along the cold atlantic.

Well, on page 206, we found what we were looking for. Not only was it a quick quip regarding how “fucking freezing” Newfoundland was in February ’88, but it recalls a near-death experience of when Lemmy came close to plunging off the ferry from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia during a late night on rough waters. Lemmy begins to harp on his fascination with the Titanic, and references a piece of grafitti he left on the Newfoundland ferry to commemorate his near fatality.

On a pleasant note, it took some effort to get to some of those venues. I remember going up to a gig in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We had to load all our stuff on a ferry and it was fucking freezing, so cold that it bit straight through you, and there were icebergs in the water. In the middle of the night, we came out of the cabin to get something out of the bus and I slid all the way across the deck to the railing and nearly went over into the fucking sea. The story of the Titanic has fascinated me for years (well before the film and all the fuss) and the whole time I was thinking,’This is what it was like when the Titanic went down!’ ’cause we were at the same latitude. In fact, our next date was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which is where they brought all the bodies. Imagine jumping into that water voluntarily! The shock when you hit it must have just fucked you up. So on the metal wall, next to the rail where I’d landed, I wrote, “Remember, and be thankful it wasn’t you on the Titanic, 1912, 14 of April”
– Lemmy Kilmister, White Line Fever (2002, Simon & Schuster Publishing)

I wonder if Lemmy’s tag still exists on this old ferry somewhere? Wouldn’t that be a scrapyard find for the ages?

Check out this Canadian TV interview with Lemmy, Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and Alice Cooper from the Live in the Flesh Tour ’88

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