JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford has paid tribute to Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, saying that the iconic MOTÖRHEAD frontman "always lived to win, right to the very end."
During a December 29 appearance on Ozzy's Boneyard (SiriusXM channel 38), Halford said about his fallen friend: "It doesn't matter how many words you try to find to talk about Lem, it's impossible, man, because, God, there was only one Lemmy, you know? And when I just think about all of the amazing times we spent together. PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD have known each other pretty much since Day One, back in the U.K., during those very early tours especially.
"It's a blessing that so many of us have all got a story and have all had an experience in Lemmy's company, either by himself at the Rainbow or after a show with the fans. Lemmy loved his fans. And laughter is a great part of this story."
He continued: "I sat by… I'm going back to Hellfest just this past summer… I sat on the side of [MOTÖRHEAD guitarist] Phil Campbell, having my head blasted by his 4-by-12 cabinet. For some unknown reason, Phil has a 4-by-12 cab behind his gear, facing off to the side of the stage; I have no idea why. But I sat there and watched the show, the Hellfest in France, and [Lemmy] walks out on stage and before he plays a note, the crowd goes absolutely ballistic. There is the legend that is Lemmy Kilmister. And then, 'Hello, we are MOTÖRHEAD and we play rock and roll,' and off they go. And, like I say, the whole experience with this great man in his music and outside of his music, words can't be enough."
Halford went on to say: "I know Lemmy's up there now going, 'I don't want any more tears. I just want more tears.' He was very much a man into reality and into facing things as they were and making the best of a difficult situation and getting through life. Born to lose, live to win — and he always lived to win, right to the very end."
The JUDAS PRIEST frontman also the brutal determined attitude demonstrated in Lemmy's tenacity. He said: "All the way up until these last dates that [PRIEST and MOTÖRHEAD] did together… I stood on the side watching him in Curitiba, in South America, and it was a challenging gig for him, you could tell. But he stood there and he sang his heart out and he played his heart out and he didn't give his fans any indication that it was challenging. And he came off, and you could see it was difficult, but he carried on. That was just amazing to see at that moment that he was still giving it a hundred percent."
Halford continued: "And isn't it wonderful? He was playing his favorite video game that they'd put in his place from the 'Bow, from the Rainbow, and he just popped off. Which is… I mean, without being morbid… He said he was either gonna go while he was on stage or while he was playing his video machine, and he got that right. So in that respect, it was a nice exit, if you wanna call it that."
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.
Lemmy 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.