Lemmy Kilmister was told he had between two and six months to live just two days prior to his death on Monday, December 28, his manager has revealed.
In an interview with Sky News, Todd Singerman revealed the final days of the late Motörhead bassist’s life, and spoke of Lemmy’s reaction upon hearing that he had terminal brain cancer.
The first sign that Lemmy was sick came earlier in December. Lemmy threw a birthday celebration for himself on December 13 at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go. Though his birthday is December 24, he threw the bash several days ahead of it.
“Two days later I could tell he wasn’t feeling good,” Singerman says, “so we took him to the hospital.”
Though Lemmy was released with a clean bill of health, doctors continued to test him due as he was suffering from irregular speech patterns.
Doctors believed the bassist had suffered a stroke, but a scan revealed an aggressive cancer in his brain and neck.
“The doctor comes with the result a couple of days later and says… it’s terminal,” Singerman says.
Lemmy was given two to six months to live.
“He took it [the news] better than all of us,” Singerman told Rolling Stone. “His only comment was, ‘Oh, only two months, huh?’ The doctor goes, ‘Yeah, Lem, I don’t want to bullshit you. It’s bad, and there’s nothing anyone can do. I would be lying to you if I told you there was a chance.’”
Though Lemmy had hoped to make the news public, he died before it was possible.
Singerman tells Sky News, “Nobody had any idea, we just learned Saturday, two days ago, that he even had cancer and the doctor told him he had between two to six months to live. He goes [dies] today as I was making calls to [Motörhead bandmates] Phil [Campbell] and Mikkey [Dee] telling them to come on out so they could have a last goodbye while he was still upbeat and everything. He was feeling mighty low... He wasn’t expected to die like that…”
Singerman says he was surprised the cancer was not caught earlier, as Lemmy had been dealing with a number of health issues in recent years.
“That caught everyone by surprise,” he says. “That [cancer] was the last thing we thought he would ever have. When you think about it, he has been to every doctor and hospital around the world and nobody caught that... That comes as a massive shock.”
Lemmy suffered health setbacks during Motörhead’s recent summer tour. The group cut short its Salt Lake City gig and canceled a Denver show in August, telling fans that Kilmister was having trouble breathing because of the high Colorado altitude. He abruptly ended the group’s subsequent show in Austin after three songs, announcing from the stage, “I can’t do it.” That episode was attributed to the residual effect of the altitude issues.
Tributes continue to come in from the music community. Queen guitarist Brian May and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett both paid tribute to Lemmy on Tuesday. May hailed him as “the original mold of a hard rock icon,” while Hammett said Lemmy helped him realize “it was okay to be an outsider.”