What Motörhead’s Cover Of David Bowie’s Heroes Tells Us Of The Past, Present And Future Of Rock Music
Even in death, Lemmy Kilmister is the ultimate rockstar and Motörhead’s cover of David Bowie’s Heroes is a haunting reminder of the ever-shifting sands of time. One of the last tracks the band ever recorded, which features in their forthcoming release, Under Cover, a compilation of the best of the covers the band have produced over the years, including their Grammy award winning bastardisation of Metallica’s Whiplash, there is a sombre sense of irony that it is Bowie who received the last Motörhead cover treatment.
With his final album, Blackstar, Bowie sent us a chilling message of his impending death, most clearly deciphered in the funeral jazz of Lazarus: “Look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen/I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen/everybody knows me now.” Bowie’s death followed shortly after the album’s release, suggesting seeing the record ooze out into public earlobes his last dying wish and act and little did we know that the Black Magic recording sessions, where Lemmy’s tribute to the rock icon was created, would be his last too. Perhaps Lemmy knew his days were numbered.
Listening now, with the world of rock n’ roll still reeling from the unexpected suicides of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, it makes a melancholic but beautiful experience. The cover is as you’d expect from Motörhead, with gruff bass and thick guitars, but it's understandably pocked with emotion too, all to the benefit of Lemmy’s vocals here; the melodies even chillier in hindsight of what fate soon had in store. The band's album was by no means one produced by an ailing songsmith, Bad Magic was as fierce, dynamic and creative as modern Motörhead got, something that was perhaps often overlooked. Heroes is a triumphant last hurrah with one icon paying tribute to another, and no doubt they'll be jamming it now in the great big bar in the sky.
Rockstar’s are a dying species. The world is producing fewer and fewer truly inspirational, eccentric and heroic musical figures and those still alive are fading away fast. But their legacy is invincible and in the glutinous amounts of new and quality acts on the rise, their influence, sound and ingenuity thrives. We will never forget these great musicians, but we must too never neglect new artists, we should always listen to what they have to say for, as fate is so adamant to remind us, life is short.