Many music fans couldn’t even name any other Motorhead song, but Lemmy’s ode to a life lived on the turn of a card is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable tunes in the history of rock – and one of the most adrenalizing, too.
With a propulsive guitar riff breathlessly powering the song along, the vocalist makes it clear that he’s more interested in the sheer rush of the gamble itself, rather than trifling concerns of who wins or loses. It’s the quintessential risk-taker’s viewpoint writ large, right there.
Lemmy, whose real name was Ian Kilmister, died in December 2015 at the age of 70, having led a life as uncompromising as the lyrics of his most famous song. It’s fair to say the Lemster packed plenty in to his time, at one point working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix’s band and going on to play bass with Hawkwind in the seventies.
Lemmy, having been fired from the Space Rock group in 1975, went on to form his own band and the rest, as they say, is history. In 40 long years of recording, Motorhead became one of the biggest and most loved rock bands in the world, influencing a great number of modern musicians such as Dave Grohl and the Ramones.
Don’t forget the joker
The Ace of Spades song has now been immortalised into an online casino slot game although it outlines the singer’s love of poker. Away from the touring schedule and the recording studio however, Lemmy was a huge fan of fruit machines and could regularly be seen at music venues around London, just playing the slots and enjoying the bands.
In fact, in Lemmy – the movie, our hero appears in many scenes, hunched over a fruit machine or video games which he also used to enjoy. There are lots of anecdotal stories of the man and his slots and it’s also claimed in some quarters that his name derives from his request for friends to ‘Lemmy a fiver’ to keep on playing.
Lemmy, while with Hawkwind and, in particular, Motorhead produced many memorable songs to leave the bassist with a glowing legacy that will never be forgotten. Still, despite that huge back catalogue, Ace of Spades is surely his best, as well as his best known contribution to popular music. Nice one, rock dude.