Review Fix Exclusive: Interview With ‘Live to Win-The Definitive Motorhead Biography’ Author Alan Burridge
Review Fix chats with ‘Live to Win-The Definitive Motorhead Biography’– Author Alan Burridge, who discusses the book and what it was like to spend time with one of the most interesting band’s in music history.
Review Fix: How would you describe the process of writing this book?
Alan Burridge: Well, I have been, for want of a better word, ‘President’ of Motorhead’s fan club, the ‘Motorheadbangers,’ since 1980. Creating three fanzines per year, (I’m getting Issue #95 together for December mail-out), it had always been a dream to write ‘the best book ever’ about the band. I wrote ‘Motorhead’ (Babylon Books) which was published in 1981 and ‘The Collector’s Guide To Motorhead’ for a Canadian publisher in 1993, and they were great for their era. But now Motorhead is 37 years old, and I had all of those fanzines as well as box files full of press cuttings and information to go through, so the process of writing the book was quite intense, but at the same time very enjoyable. I also had first hand knowledge of the band, and of course, after all these years we are friends. It’s not like a writer getting a book together and never meeting the band. I have known Lemmy since November 1979, and know or have met all of the musicians who have ever played in the band except the original drummer, Lucas Fox. There’s nothing like writing about a topic you love, and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Review Fix: What did you learn about the band that surprised you?
Burridge: It brought home how darned hard working they are. Other than recording new albums, which is an intense time as they create from jam-sessions and rehearsals, and then go into the studio, they are always on the road. But Lemmy has always said that’s where band’s ought to be, and when you think of his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, he’s right. Fans not only want to play the new and old albums, they want to see them played in the live arena, and Motorhead are one heck of a live experience to say the least. Once you have been to a Motorhead gig, you don’t forget it in a hurry.
Review Fix: How immersed did you get?
Burridge: At 61 years of age, and The Shadows being my first live concert experience, my life as a whole has always been pretty immersed in music. And even as I watched and enjoyed The Shadows, I was thinking, ‘How did they get to the venue? Where did they play yesterday? Where are they playing tomorrow? What’s backstage?’ It was the 1960′s and things were different. Information Technology didn’t really exist, and once a band like The Shadows had played your local venue, I assumed they would go home and relax. But in fact they would carry on from their UK tour into Europe or Scandinavia, or wherever, we didn’t know. So getting to know Motorhead opened up all sorts of avenues and answered a lot of questions. But of course, knowing the band members for all those years, I had been able to get close and ask questions all along, and most of those, and quite a few lesser-known facts I found out by delving deeper, are also included in the book.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite part of the book?
Burridge: The early years. It was such a darned hard fight for them. They couldn’t get a record contract for love nor money. They were on the breadline, living in squats. Putting their amps into the pawnbrokers whilst they didn’t have gigs, and then pulling them out again when they did. They were hard times. And Lemmy’s tanacity knocked down all of those barriers, and they ‘Lived To Win,’ which is where the book title comes from.
Review Fix: How do you think it compares to other books about iconic bands?
Burridge: I have read dozens of rock books on other iconic bands, but I just wrote it how I would have liked to have read it. It’s about Motorhead. There are not pages to wade through about the band growing up, or much on their earlier bands. I just decided it would be THE story of Motorhead, and just concentrated on that. If fans want to read about those earlier bands or growing up, they need Lemmy’s autobiography, or a book about Hawkwind. Those facets had been written, and I didn’t want to just clog the whole thing up with things, which fans had probably read before. The Motorhead story had never been written properly, and I wanted to write the true story as it was, and as factually correct as possible. And other than being a member of the band, which is too close anyway, I think it hits that target square on.
Review Fix: There are often moments of doubt and clarity after the publishing of a book. How did you feel about the project while it was progressing and what do you think of the finished project?
Burridge: You’re dead right. There are always the nightmares after writing any book. But I went through it a hundred times, and then two editors did the same. But publisher, Cleopatra, sent a couple of proofs through, and between us I think we got most of it right. The finished product is beyond my wildest imagination. It is most definitely what you would call a ‘Luxury’ rock book. The words Motorhead and Luxury have never fitted together well, but this book has just the right mix. It is fabulous to hold, to look at, to flip though, to read and to study and to enjoy, but it is Definitely Motorhead. Everyone will love this book. It is just so on the button for Motorhead, and Cleopatra need a huge pat on the back for getting it so right.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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