Lemmy Is Elemental

The move is on to name a new element after the late Motorhead frontman, and few things in this world make as much sense.

By Jim Knipfel

In 2006, Swedish paleontologist and metalhead Dr. Mats E. Eriksson discovered a 428-million-year-old fossil of a previously unknown species of marine worm. It was ancient, it was etched in rock, and it had strange and bulbous nodules on its head. So Dr. Eriksson, naturally enough, had no choice but to name his new discovery after Motorhead’s hard-living and indefatigable frontman Lemmy Kilmeister, the man who gave us fundamental metal classics like “Ace of Spades” and “Orgasmatron.” But Kalloprion Kilmisteri, as it will now and forever be known, was only the beginning. In 2012 Eriksson discovered another fossilized marine worm, which he named after Danish Satanic rocker King Diamond on account of its unusually large mouth. Other paleontologists, who continue to reveal themselves to be a hard-rockin’ bunch of eggheads, have named other discoveries after Henry Rollins, Ozzy, and, for some unfathomable reason, Dire Straits Mark Knopfler.

For diehard Motorhead fans, however (and anyone who isn’t a diehard fan just has something wrong with them, you ask me), Lemmy had a higher calling. He deserved to have a permanent, inescapable place in the universe, something that would ensure his name would never be forgotten. He was GOD, after all, so was by nature fundamental to all that was and would ever be. Cool as it was, naming an extinct marine worm after him simply didn’t do justice to the man’s legend. Some extinct fossilized worm may be legacy enough for the likes of Rollins or King Diamond, but we’re talking Lemmy here, for godsakes!

So when Lemmy’s untimely death on December 28th just happened to coincide with the announcement a team of American and Japanese researchers had discovered four new elements which would be added to the periodic table, well, it just seemed obvious. Especially considering the new elements were all, yes, heavy metals.

Given it would be a few months before the new elements were officially named, obsessive British Motorhead fan John Wright immediately started an online petition recommending the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry name at least one of the new elements, yes, “Lemmium.”

Let’s all say that together, shall we? “Lemmium.” Gotta admit, it has an undeniable ring to it.

Wright’s argument is a simple and sensible one. Lemmy, see, was not only a force of nature himself, but the very distilled essence of heavy metal. And when you further take into account Lemmy’s own groundbreaking research in physical chemistry, well, it’s a decision that would seem to require very little thought. I mean, how else do you expect to make 16-year-old stoners pay attention in science class? I guess in the end it all depends on how many voting members of the IUPAC can pull out a line like “Rock out with your cock out, impress your lady friend” at any appropriate occasion. Paleontologists, yeah, sure, but chemists?

At last count, the online petitioned had gathered over 15,000 signatures. As for the remaining three elements, similar online petitions are encouraging the IUPAC to consider naming them after members of REO Speedwagon and Grand Funk Railroad, as well as Englebert Humperdinck (“Humperdinkium”), but their arguments are far less compelling, and in fact make precious little sense. I mean, apart from Grand Funk’s Don Brewer, none of those people even have chemistry degrees, let alone postgraduate degrees like (Dr.) Lemmy.

Still, if his bid is successful, wright intends to start another petition insisting the United Kingdom officially change its name to Lemmyland.”

Published January 13th, 2016

Jim Knipfel is the author of Slackjaw, The Blow-Off, These Children Who Come at You With Knives, and several other books.