The bizarre feud between Lemmy Kilmister, The Darkness and referee Dave Grohl


Lemmy, the late frontman of Motörhead, had a tonne of stories to tell the nightclub goers on the Sunset Strip. From his days as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix to his many outrageous adventures, the Stoke native personified the quintessential rock star. However, one of the most peculiar incidents in his legendary life was a confrontation with Justin Hawkins of The Darkness. Where Dave Grohl, the frontman of Foo Fighters, was a major player.

A true alliance, the conflict started in 2004 when Lemmy questioned what The Darkness really was. Their debut album, Permission to Land, had become a UK number one album the year before. Thanks to its infectious vocal melody, Hawkins’ heartbreaking falsetto, and a potent solo, their widely popular hit “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” peaked at number two on the singles chart. Amidst the enduring popularity of rock, The Darkness managed to carve out a niche for themselves with the help of this track, which epitomises the band’s blend of vintage hard rock and glam.

The Darkness was considered a joke band by some of the more serious members of the rock and metal community. This was despite Hawkins’ skill as a guitarist and songwriter. This was due to the group’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek aspects, unlike their peers Tenacious D and Electric Six. Lemmy had a few choice words for The Darkness, which is to be expected from a man who once ripped into Radiohead and Coldplay, saying, “I know fucking rock ‘n’ roll when I hear it.”

In 2004, Lemmy said in an interview with Classic Rock that The Darkness had barred him from a show in Los Angeles because he had called them a “novelty act”. Although Lemmy maintained that he had nothing against the band, Hawkins’ singing annoyed him in particular. Lemmy stated, “I don’t have a problem with them.” “I simply object to people portraying them as greater than they actually are. They’re just a band, albeit a good one with catchy songs. All I’m having trouble with is the vocals.

Lemmy clarified that Ginger from The Wildhearts had invited him to sing with them during their Los Angeles show as support for The Darkness, but he had been barred for saying in the press that he thought their album was a “novelty record”. “And it was: they’re not normal vocals, and it was the first one of its type, so,” he repeated. And all of this awful crap started to fall.

As the drama between Lemmy and The Darkness developed, Dave Grohl appeared as the mediator. Almost like a dramatic turn in a soap opera. Grohl, a huge Lemmy fan, had recruited him for his renowned metal project, Probot. The frontman of Foo Fighters, known for his diplomatic skills, mediated a détente between the rock icon and the emerging quartet. Lemmy also had some noteworthy remarks, albeit delivered with a wry edge, about the former Nirvana drummer in his famously harsh style.

“I get a call at eleven at night from Dave Grohl, the cunt,” he said. He was unable to decline the invitation to go to Rainbow Bar & Grill, his favourite hangout on the strip. “And when I get there, The Darkness is all around him. Dave is a good man who enjoys maintaining harmony, which is wonderful.

The singer asked Lemmy, who was sitting next to Hawkins, why he didn’t like the vocals. He replied that it was just not his thing. But in his typically egalitarian style, the frontman of Motörhead told Hawkins that he didn’t enjoy his work. However, he would stand up for his artistic freedom to do whatever he wanted. He realised throughout the evening that both bands were more alike than he had initially believed.

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