", he chuckles and says, obliquely, "I can take it or leave it, son." Up close, he does rather look his age; he'll be 65 on Christmas Eve.The eyes are rheumy and craggy, the skin pallid and slack, the most famous warts in rock (two of them, both on the left cheek) as pronounced as distended nipples.His voice is a hoarse croak, but despite the ravages of time, he still cuts a formidable presence.

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Motörhead may always have been a band, but Lemmy was its sole focal point.

The man himself takes a puff on his cigarette as I approach, then looks up.

In response to my anodyne greeting of "How are you?

You hear him before you see him, the tell-tale clink of ice on glass, a glass that rarely leaves his right hand.

In it, always the same concoction: whisky and Coke.

It sees him through the day and keeps him – mercifully, as his entourage down the years will confirm – mostly nice and manageably mellow.You smell him next, the moment a roadie opens the door to the soundproofed rehearsal room to wheel out the drum-kit case.It's an overpowering whiff of nicotine that quickly brings tears to the eyes.And then, through the smoke, you at last see him, sat on a chair, the only static thing in a room full of activity, and you realise it couldn't ever have been anybody else.It is early on a November evening in an industrial part of north London, a stone's throw from Pentonville prison. He has been here for several hours now, in preparation for Motörhead's forthcoming European tour, and running through the new songs until he has them down pat.His band are in attendance, of course, but frankly it is difficult to know who, among the roadies packing away gear and getting ready to leave, ' might be the guitarist or the drummer.