Former Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee discussed Lemmy in a new NPR interview. Ultimate-Guitar transcribed his comments.
“Knowing Lemmy and how he was, and the life that he lived was just amazing. He lived on his own terms for 70 years, who can do that?
“He told me when he turned 50, when we Metallica came down at the Whiskey, he was so happy about that, and we had an amazing evening that night.
“And he told me, ‘If I fucking die tomorrow, I’d die a happy man. I don’t regret a thing.’ And he got 20 of his probably best years in his life following his 50th birthday, so I think about that.
“I’ve always said I’d rather celebrate his life than mourn his death because he got 70 years of a fantastic life, that’s what I think about sometimes.
“Another point is that he might’ve lived on for 10-15 more years or so, and if he couldn’t play, that’s like cutting the wings of an American eagle. Take an eagle from the Rocky Mountains, cut the wings off, and put it in the cage, how good is that?
“Lemmy would have exploded if he couldn’t be on stage, so I think in those terms that maybe his passing was the time for him to pass.
“If he couldn’t play any longer, that wouldn’t have been nice at all, and he lived 70 years of a fantastic life on his own terms, nobody else decided anything over him.
“No one bossed him around, I’ll tell you that. I gave it a couple of shots, but it didn’t work out. [Laughs] I gave up.”
Dee aid about the band’s bond, “We all decided everything together, and Lemmy, if any guy, he pushed me and Phil [Campbell, guitar] all the time to be front-persons. He didn’t want to know about ‘him’ and ‘us,’ he said, ‘This is a band, it’s not me.’
“He didn’t want to do interviews alone. They asked for him, ‘Yeah, well, it’s only Lemmy on the TV show.’ ‘Well, then I’m not going. It’s three of us or no one.’
“The same was in decision-making, when we argued or had discussions, it was always Lemmy that pushed for all of us to be equally involved, and that says a lot about the guy. He never had any ego like that, so he was amazing to work with.
“He was a very old-fashioned man that made it very simple sometimes to deal with Lemmy because he already knew what his response would be. He didn’t compromise with himself – if you will.
“He never sold out himself or compromised what he was all about. I can give you an idea about that – many years ago, we got an offer, South America, to fly to do one show in Brasil. It was a one-off, we were on a US tour, but we could actually fly to Sao Paolo for one show.
“Our manager gave us the budget, and it was a good budget, but to fly all our equipment to Sao Paolo and bring all the crew there, we would’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“So me and Doug [Smith], our manager, went through the numbers, and I figured Sonor would put out a drum kit, that’s no problem, I could play on that drum kit, and Phil could have his Marshalls lined up over there.
“We were trying to cut corners and save some money, and we said to Lemmy not to bring all his cabinets, the amps, ‘Let’s bring some cabinets, get them on-site,’ and there were a few more things.
“And Lemmy said, ‘Absolutely no.’ And we could have this discussion, I said, ‘Just look at the numbers.’ He said, ‘What’s the point going to Sao Paolo and play a show if we can’t sound like Motorhead?’
“And I said, ‘Yeah, you’re absolutely correct, let’s blow it off.’ I wanted to do it because it was an important show. I don’t remember, it was a big TV thing, and I said, ‘Let’s do it.’ I was pushing and I was trying to figure out the numbers together with our manager.
“‘How can we cut corners here, what crew can we get in Sao Paolo so we can do this show and not lose $200,000?’ And we made the numbers, we made it, but we had to cut some corners.
“But as Lemmy said, what’s the point of going down there playing Motorhead and we don’t sound like Motorhead? I said, ‘Lemmy, I can’t argue with that, you’re absolutely right. Let’s blow it off.’
“Someone has a different angle, and Lemmy never compromised with Motorhead or himself. I’ve always been the middle guy – if you will. I was in King Diamond, I was in Dokken, and I was with Motorhead.
“I was interested in this, I’ve been always down with the business side of music as well, so I enjoyed that. The other guys didn’t enjoy it maybe as much.
“Of course, they were fully involved, but they didn’t want to sit around the table and do the drawings. But I liked to hear the numbers, I liked to hear where we are, I liked to see if it’s even possible.
“Lemmy came up, he just said that out of the blue, and I said ‘you know what? I can’t even argue with that, because you’re absolutely correct,’ and we never compromised Motorhead for money.
“That I give Lemmy all the credit for because both me and Phil could be sometimes maybe a little too modern – if you will. We could rush into things, but Lemmy could pull us back and say something like this, and just thinking for two seconds, you realize that he is super right on this.
“And then vice-versa, sometimes he could be a little too old-fashioned, and we could pull him forward from that idea, and I can get my point through, and Lemmy would say, ‘Well, Mik, you’re absolutely right, let’s fucking do that.'”