Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister passed away from prostate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure back in 2015, but he was also battling diabetes around the time as well. In fact, he almost had to get some toes amputated due to the disease. Now, during an interview with Landry.Audio, Scott Ian (Anthrax) revealed that Kilmister actually avoided the amputation by smoking a cigarette in the doctor’s office. Basically, he was told he couldn’t smoke in there, so he decided just to leave. He then found another doctor who told him that he could save his toes by simply changing his diet.
Ian said the following:
“He had been diagnosed with diabetes at some point, if I remember correctly, so he was battling that. I remember at some point [hearing that] Lemmy switched to vodka. Like, that was news. In the rock world, that was major headline news. I remember hearing that, like, ‘Lemmy’s got diabetes, and no more Jack-and-Cokes, because of the sugar content. He switched to vodka.’ I was, like, ‘Wow! After 50 years, that’s a big deal.'”
“Look, when a guy like that hits the wall, living the life that he has been living since he was a teenager… The guy had been hitting it hard for 50-odd years already by the time the early two-thousand-teens rolled in. So, eventually you’re gonna hit the wall. I don’t care who you are — everyone hits the wall. No matter how healthy you are and no matter how fucked up of a life you led and how hard you lived, and when you’ve lived as hard as Lemmy did, when you hit the wall, it’s gonna be worse than the average human.”
“I did spend a lot of time with him over the years; lucky enough for me, it was a privilege to have spent 30-odd years or something knowing him and being friendly with him. And I asked him one time about smoking: ‘Do you think you’ll ever quit?’ or this or that. These are questions he just… there wasn’t even an answer to. He wasn’t gonna quit smoking; he wasn’t gonna quit drinking.”
“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. And he saw some doctor in L.A., and they were, like, ‘Oh, [you must go under the knife] immediately. You’re gonna lose the toes,’ and this and that. And he was, like, ‘I need a second opinion.’ And he flew back to London and saw a doctor there. And it was the same kind of thing: ‘We need to get these off. It’s an emergency.’ And it comes to… 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.”
“That’s when he started using Diet Coke instead of regular Coke in his Jack-and-Cokes, I believe. The doctor literally told him: ‘Switch to Diet Coke, and you don’t have to lose your toes.’ [Laughs]”