One Cigarette Once Saved Lemmy Kilmister’s Toes From Amputation
High on Fire just released an album about a wild dream Matt Pike had about Lemmy. He's often been compared to the Motorhead legend, both for the attack of his playing style and his gravely voice. It turns out the two nearly had another commonality — toe amputations
Earlier this month, Pike was forced off the road, undergoing an emergency partial amputation of one of his toes. As Anthrax's Scott Ian recalled in a recent interview with Landry.Audio (video below), ol' Lem was staring down a similar fate (multiple toes hung in the balance) when diabetes began to impact his hard living late in life.
"He literally almost lost a couple of toes because when he was in the throes of figuring out the diabetes and all that, a couple of his toes went black from bad circulation and all this," described Ian, who was a friend of Lemmy's and shared the road with him numerous times. After seeking medical opinions in both Los Angeles and London, doctors determined amputation was the only proper course to chart.
Ian continued, "He goes to have the surgery done and he's sitting in this office and he's smoking a cigarette. And someone tells him, 'You're not allowed to smoke in here. What are you — crazy? You can't smoke in this office.' And he said, 'Well, if I'm gonna fucking lose a toe, I'm gonna have a fucking cigarette.' And long story short, they said, 'You can't smoke in here.' And he said, 'Well, then I won't be in here.' And he left. And he ended up seeing another doctor, and they literally told him, 'You just need to change this or this in your diet, and your feet are gonna be fine.' And he changed his diet, and he didn't have to have his toes cut off. So a cigarette literally saved him from having a part of his body amputated."
During his battle with diabetes, Lemmy famously swapped his staple cocktail, Jack and Coke, for vodka due to the high sugar content in the latter, another anecdote Ian recalled. "In the rock world, that was major headline news," he exclaimed. Yes it was.
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