21 Years Ago: Metallica Perform as Lemmy for His 50th Birthday

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s safe to say Metallica flattered the hell out of Lemmy for his 50th birthday.

The Motörhead frontman turned 50 on Dec. 24, 1995, and in anticipation of that milestone, a celebratory bash was held 10 days earlier at the Whisky a Go Go — a fixture on the West Hollywood landscape that stands a stone’s throw from his favorite haunt, the Rainbow Bar & Grill. Booked to perform, the members of Metallica decided to put together a set featuring some of their favorite Motörhead cuts — with a special visual twist.

As you can see in the footage above — shot in-house by the Whisky and uploaded to YouTube years later — the group took the stage as “the Lemmys” on Dec. 14, cranking out a seven-song set while wearing Lemmy wigs and decked out in appropriate attire. Leading off with “Overkill,” they continued with “Damage Case,” “Stone Dead Forever,” “Too Late, Too Late,” “The Chase Is Better Than the Catch” and “We Are the Road Crew” before finishing with an encore performance of “Overkill.”

Lemmy was flattered — but not too much, grumbling to MTV that “there were far too many people there” and poking fun at the Lemmys’ appearance. “They all dressed up as me, and I thought that was great. It was a lovely bit of respect, that was. I knew they were coming to the party, but I didn’t know they were going to come dressed up like that,” he told the network. “They all had long black wigs on and penciled-in mustaches, and a tattoo drawn on one arm, with a black marker. Besides, they got their tattoos on the wrong arm too, every one of them.”

For the members of Metallica, the show offered a charmingly goofy way of paying tribute to their hero — and although most fans of either act weren’t in attendance at the party, the group offered up a facsimile of sorts with their 1996 single “Hero of the Day,” tacking on rehearsal recordings of “Overkill,” “Damage Case,” “Stone Dead Forever” and “Too Late, Too Late” to the limited-edition CD version. Those tracks later surfaced again on 1998’s Garage, Inc. compilation.

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