This series recalls famous visits and historical landings at Helsinki Airport. This time, we look back on Motörhead’s arrival in Helsinki in 1982.
Formed in June 1975 by the late bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, Motörhead is often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal. Over its vast career, the group released 22 studio albums, 10 live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and five EPs. The band also went through several lineups, with Kilmister as its sole constant member. Throughout a 40-year career, however, most of the group’s best-selling albums and singles feature the work of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums.
On August 12, 1982, Motörhead touched down in Helsinki. They were en route to one of their most legendary performances which was held at Lappeenranta the next day. To support the release of Iron Fist, their fifth studio album, that year, the band embarked on a world tour that spanned nearly 60 cities across the UK, Europe, Canada, the US and Japan, and saw the last of the classic line-up of Kilmister, Clarke and Taylor.
Not their first visit
Motörhead achieved considerable popularity in Finland, a country of staunch metal fans, and their visit in 1982 was certainly not their first. A few years prior, in 1979, the band played the at a festival in Punkaharju, where they unleashed their brand of mayhem.
In his autobiography White Line Fever, Kilmister writes about a caravan on the festival site that functioned as the band’s dressing room. Taylor lobbed a small tree through a hole in one of the caravan’s windows that came as a result of Kilmister punching it. As the caravan was already damaged, the band decided to disguise the fact “by sailing it into the lake and setting it on fire – give it a Viking funeral. And it went out very well, floated off in a very Arthurian manner, flames and smoke pouring out of it, and it sunk in quite a dramatic display.”
Back at the hotel, Clarke and Taylor carried on with the behaviour and, as the book says, “planted all their room furniture, laid out just right, outside in the garden at around six in the morning – in broad daylight.”
￼Trouble at the airport
During the early morning bus ride to Helsinki Airport the next day, the band wore their seat covers as hats. When the bus driver warned them about not making a mess, a food fight broke out, sending a circle of ham flying then landing squarely on the driver’s bald patch.
At the airport, the driver came running after Motörhead not so much to reprimand them, but surprisingly, to return the tour manager’s briefcase, which contained gig money. The band’s luck was short-lived, however, as police arrested the band following complaints by festival promoters about all the damage done to their stage. The band members were thrown in jail, where they languished for three days. It took most of the gig money to sort matters out. They certainly lived up to their slogan: “Everything louder than everything else.”
Kilmister died in Los Angeles in December 2015 from prostate cancer and heart failure. Soon after, Motörhead ceased to continue as a band. By 2018, all three original members of Motörhead’s classic line-up had passed away.
Sources: Lemmy: The Definitive Biography, Loudersound
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