The rock and roll lifestyle is notorious for its wear and tear on those who live it to the fullest, especially touring musicians.
The relentless schedule, the late nights, and the constant exposure to a variety of temptations can all contribute to an increasingly taxing toll on one’s health. Touring artists often find it challenging to maintain a balanced lifestyle, leading many to adopt extreme behaviors that can have lasting physical consequences.
During his lifetime, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead was a legendary figure who lived life at full throttle, unabashedly embodying the excesses of rock and roll. His unapologetic indulgence in speed, whiskey, and a generally hedonistic lifestyle stood as a testament to his resistance to shuffling free of the mortal coil.
Lemmy appeared to defy the typical consequences of such a lifestyle, surviving for the better part of a century in a world where many burn out quickly.
As detailed in several biographies, rumors surrounding The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards suggested that the rock icon had a full blood transfusion in 1973, notably as a life-saving maneuver that allowed him to continue his notorious drug use.
This procedure was believed to have involved hemodialysis, a process where the patient’s blood runs through a pump and is separated from sterile dialysis fluid by a semipermeable membrane.
This technique purportedly allowed the removal of toxic substances that, under normal circumstances, would have been filtered by the kidneys, thus cleansing the bloodstream.
Inspired by the myth of Richards’ supposed medical intervention, Lemmy contemplated undergoing a similar treatment in 1980.
The idea of purifying his blood after years of hard living and continuous touring seemed plausible and potentially life-saving, given his relentless lifestyle and the stories of Richards’ miraculous recovery.
In an intimate revelation to Inked Magazine, Lemmy recounted a stunning assessment given to him by his doctor. “He told me I didn’t have human blood in my system anymore,” Lemmy explained.
Continuing: “Apparently, I had become so toxic, mostly from all the speed and alcohol, that fresh blood would have killed me.”
However, the tale of Keith Richards’ blood transfusion that so intrigued and inspired Kilmister turned out to be nothing more than rock and roll apocrypha. “Someone asked me how I cleaned up, so I told them I went to Switzerland and had my blood completely changed,” Richards once recounted. “I was just fooling around. I opened my jacket and said, ‘How do you like my blood change?’
“That’s all it was, a joke. I was fucking sick of answering that question. So I gave them a story.”