If you had to name a band that could rouse someone out of a coma, surely Motörhead would be at or near the top of the list. Well, Lemmy has been known to claim that something exactly like that actually happened, a decade or three ago.
On at least three occasions Lemmy has told an interviewer about the time a Motörhead fan was in a coma, and the patient woke up after a tape Motörhead put together for the patient was played. Lemmy says the incident happened in 1980 or 1981; I have not been able to find any independent corroboration for the story.
Let’s tackle this chronologically. This interview Lemmy did with Roger Lotring is undated, but there is a reference to Sacrifice being a recent album, so that would put it at about 1996. Lotring did the interview for Prime Choice, but a search of that website didn’t turn up any Lemmy interviews, although it did yield lots of other hard rock interviews. I suspect it was just too early in the website’s existence. Here’s the relevant passage (emphasis added):
Roger Lotring: It just seems like people don’t hang on to what they started with.
Lemmy Kilmister: People are fickle, y’know, by nature. That’s the way it works. But the thing is, this music is the healing music, as Little Richard said. This music will make your dick stand up. This music will make you pose in front of the mirror with a tennis racket, for Christ sake. It will make you pose about making ridiculous shapes of yourself in front of the mirror when you’re all by yourself [laughs]. You don’t have to impress anybody except yourself. It will make the blind see and the lame walk, truly. We got a guy out of a coma, talking to him on the tape, once. We tried about five or six of them, but only one ever worked. This kid came out of his coma. Who else does that?
RL: It’s amazing.
LK: It’s amazing. That’s the gift of life, right?
This interview, also featured on the motorhead.ru website, took place on May 1, 1998, but the identity of the interviewer isn’t clear. It’s possible that the interviewer was the proprietor of that site, but I’m not sure about that.
MB: You’ve accomplished a lot over the years. What’s the one thing you are most proud of accomplishing?
LK: When we made a tape for a kid and brought him out of a coma.
LK: Back in, what was it, 1980 I think. Or ’81. This kid was in a hospital after his back was crushed, in a coma. And we made a tape, you know. All three of us going, wake up and all that type of stuff. And he woke up. I don’t know if it was just our tape, but it’s a nice feeling.
MB: That’s amazing.
From there we make a huge leap in time, to a 2011 interview in Goldmine magazine conducted by Jeb Wright.
Goldmine: Legend holds that you woke up a guy out of a coma by just talking to him.
Lemmy: It became kind of a fad in the late ’70s to try to help people wake up out of comas by hearing things that they liked. I remember we sent out about six tapes. We heard that we were this one kid’s favorite band so we sent a tape that said, “Hey this is Motörhead. It’s time to wake up.” We sent out tapes to the others but they didn’t wake up. It was worth it just to have one kid wake up. I got to meet him after he woke up.
A tall tale or the straight dope? Who knows? I’d love to find some documentation of this incident, if indeed it ever occurred. In the meantime here’s Motörhead playing “Motörhead” in 1980, right around the time Lemmy says the incident occured.