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Duff McKagan Sings the Praises of Motorhead

Duff McKagan and Lemmy
Charley Gallay / Noel Vasquez, Getty Images

If you had the opportunity to share a stage with Lemmy, you’d probably freak out, right? One of the few rock icons who can go by one name, he’s been raising the art of the bass to growling new heights with Motorhead for nearly 40 years, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, Lemmy’s legend is so powerful that it can even provoke fanboy gushing from a grizzled rock vet like ex-Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, who devoted his most recent ESPN column to a grin-filled discussion of his band Loaded’s seven-night Germany run with Motorhead.

“This tour will, in the end, see me land in no fewer than five continents in a scant 30 days,” began McKagan, describing his road fatigue in detail: “To say that my bandmates and I are exhausted would be a laughable understatement … My clothes are filthy. My hands and vocal cords are ripped and torn. My eyes are so bloodshot that I don’t even need rose-colored glasses anymore.”

But Duff and the band aren’t complaining. Why? Because they got the nod from Lemmy. As McKagan puts it, “If you are a rock band of Loaded’s size and ilk, playing Germany with Motorhead is like making it to The Show when you get called up to the major leagues in baseball … This past 10 days away from home have been the hardest, but playing with Motorhead makes things OK. We would have said ‘no’ to any other offer and simply gone home after South America.”

And what makes Lemmy’s crew so special? In McKagan’s words, “Motorhead forged the way as leaders to all of the rest of us who would shortly form bands. From Metallica to Megadeth to Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, Guns N’ Roses, and on and on … they all have noted Motorhead as a key influence.”

But it’s more than that. Continued McKagan, “Lemmy’s no-B.S. attitude toward touring and making records, and his relentless touring stamina, make everyone else rather pale and weak in comparison. He is like the Brett Favre of rock ‘n’ roll … well, except Lemmy Kilmister is still playing and doesn’t cry.”

And how does actually touring with the legend hold up against Duff’s expectations? Pretty well, as it turns out: “Actually being here on the road with Motorhead is to get an awe-inspiring peek into legend. Motorhead guitarist Campbell has never been better. Dee plays drums like a beast possessed. And Lemmy is still more on top of his game than five 20-year-olds combined. If you get a chance to see this band, just don’t even try to think twice about it. They are the very best of what it is all about … it is like going to rock ‘n’ roll church.”

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