When you think of Motörhead legend Lemmy Kilmister, you’d be hard-pressed to not immediately hear the melody to ‘Ace of Spades’ rattling in your head.
Lemmy is essentially synonymous with ‘Ace of Spades,’ and with good reason- it’s an all-time banger that will forever be heralded as one of the best metal AND rock songs ever. Period.
Interestingly enough, though, the legend himself did not share the same kind of warm and fuzzy sentiments about the song as his legions of adoring fans did.
Even when Motörhead first wrote it, he didn’t seem to think it was anything particularly special, telling Rolling Stone:
“It’s still very popular. When we do it onstage, everyone loves it. But when we wrote it, we were just doing an album. It’s just fucking another song.
I thought it was pretty good, but I didn’t think it was that good.
So I have no special memory of writing it. It’s got a “tap-dancing part,” you know, Phil [Taylor’s] solo. When he called it that, there was a big debate: “Are we going to take it out or leave it in?” And then we left it in. I was surprised when the song took off. It’s no better than all the others.
It’s a sentiment that he would often carry through other interviews in his career, also telling Louder than War:
“The records are much better now than ‘Ace of Spades’ or ‘Bomber,’” he said, comparing their early works to their later music. “They are not even good; primitive, bad sound, bad equipment, and in a lot cases played really played badly. There is something good about it if you were 16, but the moment has passed.”
Lemmy would carry this sentiment all the way through to the later years of his life, expanding in his 2002 autobiography White Line Fever:
“I’m sick to death of Ace of Spades now. We didn’t become fossilised after that record, you know, we’ve had quite a few good releases since then. But the fans want to hear it so we still play it every night. For myself, I’ve had enough of that song.”
Hilariously, the legend got so sick of playing it towards the end that he told Spin he would sometimes change the words on unsuspecting audiences:
“Good. That makes a change. All people seem to know is “Ace of Spades.” It’s backfired at me ever since ’cause the ace of spades is a bad-luck sign — so naturally I’ve always felt an affinity with it. Damn the dark card! For two years I’ve sung “eight of spades,” and nobody noticed. Not even the rest of the band.”
It’s always wild to get a peek behind the curtain from artists to see how they really feel about their art. While Lemmy obviously wasn’t a fan of his biggest hit, it will at least ensure his legacy lives on in the hearts, minds and ears of music fans for decades to come.