I feel like the best music documentaries are the ones you can enjoy even if you know nothing about the musicians or type of music being profiled ... or better yet, don't actually like the music in question. For example, I loved the movie The Devil and Daniel Johnston, but have no interest in hearing any more of Johnston's music. Along the same lines, I went into Lemmy knowing very little about the musician's work, pretty much classifying it in a very generic Heavy Metal corner of the music world that I haven't paid much attention to. And yet, after 90-odd minutes of watching this profile of the driving force behind Motorhead, I was pleased to see Lemmy himself onstage for a Q&A and actually entertained the idea of going to a Motorhead concert later this week. (My eardrums are asking me to please go see a nice quiet movie instead.)
Lemmy is a straightforward profile of the musician born as Ian Fraser Kilmister, who has been playing bass for Motorhead since he founded it more than 30 years ago. The focus of the movie tends to be on the present day: We get a good look at the contents of Lemmy's LA apartment, meet his son Paul, hear his philosophies of life and watch him performing on tour. The movie also contains talking-head interviews from dozens of musicians, including present and former members of Lemmy's bands and musicians influenced by Lemmy. Henry Rollins is the most articulate, but we also are treated to appearances from Joan Jett, Ozzy Osbourne, Slash, Alice Cooper and David Grohl. Some brief biographical background also sneaks in, with fabulous photos of Lemmy as a young man in The Rockin' Vickers and later Hawkwind.