How Lemmy Nearly Lost Toes to Bad Medical Advice
Late Motorhead icon Lemmy Kilmister’s insistence on smoking was the reason he avoided unnecessary amputation of several toes, Scott Ian claimed.
The Anthrax guitarist became a close friend of Lemmy’s, and recalled how the older man’s health had begun to waver toward the end of his life. He died in 2015 at age 70 after being diagnosed with fatal cancer. He’d been living with diabetes for several years before that.
“He wasn’t as healthy as he had been,” Ian told Landry.audio in a recent interview. “I remember at some point [I heard that] Lemmy switched to vodka. Like, that was news – in the rock world, that was major headline news. I was like, ‘Wow, after 50 years [of drinking Jack Daniel’s and Coke] that’s a big deal.”
He noted that "no matter how healthy you are and no matter how fucked up of a life you led and how hard you lived, and when you've lived as hard as Lemmy did, when you hit the wall, it's gonna be worse than the average human.”
You can listen to the full interview below.
Ian recalled that some of Lemmy’s toes had gone black as a result of poor circulation, a side effect of diabetes. A doctor in Los Angeles told him that amputation was the only solution, but Lemmy wanted a second opinion and flew to London to see another doctor.
“And it was the same kind of thing,” Ian said. “‘We need to get these off. It’s an emergency.’ He goes to have the surgery done and he’s sitting in this office and he’s smoking a cigarette … someone tells him, ‘You’re not allowed to smoke in here.’ … And he said, ‘Well, then I won’t be in here.’ And he left. And he ended up seeing another doctor, and they literally told him, ‘You just need to change this or that in your diet, and your feet are gonna be fine.’ And he changed his diet, and he didn’t have to have his toes cut off. So a cigarette literally saved him from having a part of his body amputated.”