In a pivotal scene in Airheads, the 1994 Brendan Fraser comedy about a hapless heavy-metal band holding a radio station hostage, a record-label square tries to quell the takeover by offering the band a record deal.
“You guys are the hottest thing since Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch,” the A&R guy tells them. “Marky Mark? That guy sucks,” offers up Fraser’s bandmate, Steve Buscemi. So Fraser comes up with the perfect question to determine whether or not the A&R guy is legit: “Who’d win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?” “Lemmy,” the suit says, prompting Buscemi’s derision. Then he tries “God.”
“Wrong, dickhead,” Buscemi tells him. “Trick question: Lemmy is God.” They all laugh at him and kick him out. (The Motörhead frontman, who was omnipresent as God around 1994, even makes a cameo a few minutes later in the movie.)
Now another act of irrefutable celestial grace has offered more proof that the late Lemmy Kilmister, he of the blessed warts and the snaggletooth, is indeed a deity worthy of worship. Last month, church bells in Weert, Holland, rang out the whole of Motörhead’s iconic “Ace of Spades.”
At 3 p.m. on the afternoon of July 17th, a crowd of confused grannies stared up at a belltower in the city center to hear guitarist Jitse Zonneveld and organist Frank Steijns bash out a raucous, chiming rendition of the song. It’s cacophonous, a little out of tune, and wholly holy as Steijn uses his fists to find all of Kilmister’s anti-melodies on his keyboard (actually a “carillon,” for those versed in ecclesiastical instrumentation).
The best part, of course, is the breakdown when Kilmister would typically sing, “You know I’m born to lose and gambling’s for fools/but that’s the way I like it, baby, I don’t wanna live forever,” because Steijn plays it in a janky diatonic harmony. The fact that there are improbably drums in the recording on YouTube is another example of divine provenance. When they finish, the gathered café dwellers and tourists in Weert for the annual Torenfestival applaud and holler gleeful hallelujahs in the tongues of Motörhead.
A few months before his death in 2015, Kilmister — ahem, God — reflected on “Ace of Spades” with Rolling Stone. “When we do it onstage, everyone loves it,” he said “But when we wrote it, we were just doing an album. It’s just fucking another song. I thought it was pretty good, but I didn’t think it was that good. … I was surprised when the song took off. It’s no better than all the others.” Thus spake the Holy Lem.
From Rolling Stone US