MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine has paid tribute to MOTÖRHEAD frontman Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, calling him a "giant" who stayed true to his initial, throwback aesthetic until the very end.
During a December 29 appearance on Ozzy's Boneyard (SiriusXM channel 38), Mustaine said about Lemmy (hear audio below): "Those of us that were really close to Lemmy knew that he was giving everything he had left to continue to let the show go on, but also knew that he was really frail. What a giant, though."
Mustaine also talked about his initial meeting with Lemmy. He said: "I think the very first time we played with them was back in 1985 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with MOTÖRHEAD, the PLASMATICS singer Wendy O. Williams and her solo project, and then we opened. That was the start of the big famous dating [or] whatever thing between Gar [Samuelson, then-MEGADETH drummer] and Wendy for a couple of days and our first little skirmish with MOTÖRHEAD. And we've had a very real, very close relationship ever since, because it just kind of started off on a, 'Hey, well, you may be MOTÖRHEAD, but we're MEGADETH' kind of thing, and I think that really set the relationship, because we had gotten so close over the years."
He continued: "I remember playing at the Gods Of Metal [festival] in Italy, and their bus broke down, and either they were gonna get their show canceled or we had to take their time slot and go on earlier and give them our time slot, and we graciously said, 'Yeah,' because, you know, it's Lemmy. C'mon! It's MOTÖRHEAD."
According to Mustaine, MOTÖRHEAD's influence can still be heard in MEGADETH's music to this day. He said: "It's funny. I was just thinking the other day. On our new record, we have a song that's very 'Fast' Eddie-style playing. But I didn't even realize how much that kind of quick English riffing had influenced me, 'cause MOTÖRHEAD has a style that's really cool [and] all its own."
Recalling the final time he spoke to Lemmy, Mustaine said: "The last time we had a really long conversation, I would say, would have been on the last Gigantour that he had done, when MOTÖRHEAD went out with MEGADETH a couple of years ago."
He continued: "Lemmy was one of those real kind of dudes that, if he liked you, he liked you. You didn't have to have one of these fake kind of friendships that have to be on life support all the time in order for it to be a friendship. I'm sure you know plenty of people like that. I've got a lot of people in my life."
In a separate interview with New Zealand's The Rock FM, Mustaine said about the MOTÖRHEAD frontman: "Lemmy and I were friends, and we'd toured together many times, spent a lot of time hanging out. Not as much as some of his, like, real full-on friends in Los Angeles, but when we toured, we spent time together, and there were numerous, numerous dates that we'd done together."
Mustaine added: "He had a very childlike side to him that I saw. One time he invited me into his tour bus to show me some of his memorabilia that he had gotten. He was a World War II memorabilia collector. And just to be taken into his private living environment, to see something that really meant something to him meant the world to me, 'cause this is a guy that was legendary when I started. And for him to wanna show me something that means something to him meant that I meant something to him, and it was the coolest feeling in the world."
Lemmy, who celebrated his 70th birthday on Christmas Eve (December 24), learned two days later that he was afflicted with an aggressive form of cancer. He died two days later, on December 28, at his home in Los Angeles.
The MOTÖRHEAD frontman had dealt with several health issues over the past few years, including heart trouble, forcing him to cut back on his famous smoking and Jack Daniels habits.
The band was forced to cancel a number of shows last year, although they did manage to complete one final European tour on December 11.