During an appearance on the latest edition of “Trunk Nation LA Invasion: Live From The Rainbow Bar & Grill” on SiriusXM, former GUNS N’ ROSES drummer Matt Sorum spoke about the experience of filling in for MOTÖRHEAD‘s Mikkey Dee on 13 shows during the latter band’s 2009 U.S. tour.
“Lemmy called me up… He actually texted me, and I could hear his voice through the text: ‘Matt, I need you to play drums,'” Sorum recalled. “And I actually texted him back. I wrote, ‘Why me?’ I don’t know why I said that. And he wrote back, ‘Dave Grohl‘s not available.’ Lemmy wasn’t a guy to mince words; he’d tell you the truth. I loved that about him. And I texted him, ‘When are we rehearsing?’ And he wrote back, ‘We aren’t.’
“I got a DVD [of MOTÖRHEAD‘s performance at the] Wacken [Open Air] festival,” he continued. “It came in the mail, like the next day, [via] FedEx. And he said, ‘Learn the Wacken show.’ And I learned it. And then I met them at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C. We soundchecked and I played that night… And it was amazing. For a drummer, though… it got confusing, ‘cause there’s a lot of MOTÖRHEAD songs that have that sort of thunderous rock kind of beat happening underneath, and I just needed to kind of decipher that. But, obviously, playing ‘Overkill’ and ‘Ace Of Spades’… Then I had to learn the newer stuff that Mikkey did, like ‘[In The Name Of] Tragedy’, which some of that stuff was, like, ‘Wow!'”
According to Sorum, playing a full set of MOTÖRHEAD songs was a physically challenging task. “It was a very energetic, high-energy set, and I loved it,” he said. “And I still remember it like yesterday. Especially being on the bus with Lemmy. He’s just got great stories. He knew everything there was to know about every civil war. We’d be driving down the highway through the Midwest, or in the South, where they had battlefields. And he’d point. He’d go, ‘Over there was the battle of…’ you know, whatever, and he knew everything about it. Not only the Second World War, First World War, but the American Civil War. So he was a history buff.”
Matt went on to say that playing with MOTÖRHEAD was “one of the greatest experiences that I ever had” and “probably one of the greatest tours of my life. I had so much fun with those guys,” he said.
When Lemmy died in December 2015, Sorum penned a heartfelt tribute to the MOTÖRHEAD leader, saying that the world “lost the greatest badass in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. He was a man who lived his life with no apologies and lived the dream of a life on the road playing music to thousands of fans worldwide. Lemmy loved rock ‘n’ roll and his fans. Never took them for granted and rocked as hard as he could night after night.”
Sorum recalled meeting Lemmy for the first time in 1989 at a London club called St. Moritz. “He opened his arms to me as I was new to the big leagues at that point,” he said. “I felt accepted by him and that meant everything to me. The years ahead with GUNS N’ ROSES, THE CULT and VELVET REVOLVER and travels on the road, it was always a good time crossing paths with him. Likes pirates on sailing ships. He was someone that carved the way and we followed by example. Stick to what you believe in, never waver and everybody else can fuck off.”
Matt also credited Lemmy with teaching him “to respect myself and have respect and gratitude for the life we’d been given. He will always remain in my heart as a guide to push on. Take no prisoners and never give up.”
Photo credit: Michael Segal for Artbit