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Periodic table tribute for Lemmy 'could make up for lack of knighthood'

Published 09/01/2016

Lemmy's name could be immortalised in the periodic table
Lemmy's name could be immortalised in the periodic table

The man behind the petition to name an element in the periodic table after Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister said he hopes the tribute will make up for the lack of a knighthood during his life.

John Wright's change.org petition to ask the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) to consider the appellation "Lemmium" for one of the four newly-discovered heavy metallic elements has amassed over 113,000 signatures since Monday.

Speaking of why he started the petition, Wright said: "In terms of record sales impact, Lemmy should have been offered an honour but he didn't play that game. I don't think there was ever much chance of Sir Lemmy Kilmister so this feels like a tribute that has a permanence to it that acknowledges and represents his impact."

The petition comes as Lemmy, who died on December 28, is laid to rest in a service in Hollywood today that will be live streamed at 11pm GMT.

Lemmium, he claims, will be "a force for social good" by introducing both chemistry and heavy metal to a new generation.

Wright said: "Anything that makes it easier to stand up as a science teacher in front of a bunch of 12-13 years old that aren't interested in chemistry has to be a good thing.

"We're celebrating Lemmy but also getting the world's media to talk about the periodic table and what's a heavy metal."

Wright said he expected 200 signatures on the petition but, after being retweeted by Kerrang editor Phil Alexander then names like Guns N' Roses Duff McKagan, Professor Brian Cox and Motorhead's own Phil Campbell, it has gone viral.

He believes the petition caught on because it is like "an online condolence book" for Lemmy.

He admitted to doing a "back of a fag packet" level of research into the process of naming an element, but Wright revealed that "serendipitously" the process is under consultation until the end of February, meaning Lemmium does have a chance to become reality.

"It just seems to be part of that natural synchronicity that makes this possible, serendipity, as if there's some forces at play here."

Now Wright's calling on the star supporters to help secure 20 minutes of the IUPAC's time to make a presentation, with a dream team of Cox and another Brian, ex-Queen guitarist and doctor of astrophysics May, who is yet to publicly support the petition but was a close friend of Lemmy.

He downplayed Lemmy's own protests in an interview with The Independent in 2010 that, "we were not heavy metal. We were a rock'n'roll band. Still are."

"Shall we not do it then because Lemmy said he's not heavy metal? It just doesn't seem worth turning down the opportunity to do something really special. Even if Motorhead weren't a metal band, Lemmy himself, almost a cartoon character, was certainly the very essence of metal," Wright said.

There is poignancy too in the option to pick a tribute in the world of science and not music.

"Science is often very rebellious. New ideas come from challenging the status quo. I think Lemmy would be very comfortable being seen within the landscape of people that aren't satisfied with the world as they pick it up but want to make an imprint on it," he said.

The music industry association, BPI, are also supporting the petition.

Spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "Lemmy was a true rock legend, who will be much missed. Although future generations will always be able to enjoy his iconic music, it would be wonderful to create an enduring legacy that will almost literally set Lemmy's name in stone for all time."

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