Archive / 2016: Motörhead Tribute Takes Place At Download In Pouring Rain

MetalTalk Archive. 10th June 2016: 6.29 PM. Motörhead Tribute. Download Festival got off to a blinding start today, with some great performances including Avatar on stage two and Alien Ant Farm and Royal Republic on the Lemmy Stage.

However, around three hours before the appointed time of 5.30pm, as the anticipation started to build towards the planned Motörhead tribute, darkness covered the whole Donington area and torrential rain and violent thunder and lightning came down from the skies. The lightning lasted for around twenty minutes before the skies temporarily brightened up.

People ran for cover to the tents and as the final act before the tribute, Killswitch Engage, did their damndest to work what remained of the crowd, lead singer Jesse Leach slipped on the wet stage and drew blood from his elbow.


The Download roadies worked hard to clear the stage and get it dry and at a couple of minutes after 5.30pm the Korn backdrop was raised and their drum riser was brought onto the stage and at 5.36pm Lemmy and Motörhead appeared on the giant screens as the greatest rock n’ roll band of all time played a later version of the classic track ‘Overkill’. Here’s a snippet from our live reporting team.

Our reporting team have described the sound as: “Brutal. As though the band are here in the flesh, really playing. Everyone has raised a horned salute.”

And here’s a picture of the sky just above the Lemmy Stage when the tribute started. We see a face in the clouds. Maybe.


After ‘Overkill’ finished, videos of various luminaries paying tribute to Lemmy were screened and these included great words from Dave Grohl, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, Lemmy’s son Paul Inder and wrestler Triple H. A lot of these tributes were taken from that wonderful work of art, ‘Lemmy: The Movie’.

Videos of various performances from past Motörhead appearances at Download were then aired including a poignant rendition of ‘Killed By Death’, which has been aired regularly at London events by one of the capital’s top Metal DJs, Linz Griffin, who is pictured here. That is probably not just Coca-Cola in that bottle. At least we hope not…


Many more spoken video tributes followed before a rendition of ‘Ace Of Spades’ from a previous Donington performance followed. This time the crowd really got singing along and then James Hetfield and Brian May appeared on screen. The Queen guitarist, who played a solo on the track ‘The Devil’ from Motörhead’s final album ‘Bad Magic’, said: “The spirit of Lemmy remains and is with us all.”

And at 6.18pm, it was all over.

It was not a sad occasion, more a celebration of all that is good about rock n’ roll and all that was and will remain good about Lemmy and Motörhead, however there was a feeling of disappointment as a field full of people who loved Lemmy wanted and expected more than a video tribute.

There was a complete empty band slot available and more than enough time to organise something, especially given the amount of quality musicians available on the day. The “spiritual home of rock” could have done better given the momentous circumstances. There was not even an announcement before the videos started playing.

Three minutes after the tribute, the rain stopped. But Motörhead never will. Motörhead for life – Lemmy forever.

“Stand on the stage, promises made,
Under the blade, scratching and biting,
Maybe you’ll die, maybe you’ll fly,
Fire in the sky, thunder and lightning,
Thunder and lightning”
Lemmy, ‘Thunder And Lightning’ from ‘Bad Magic’ 2015

Sleeve Notes

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