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Arts and Entertainment

Rock Stars Honor Fallen 'Heroes' David Bowie And Lemmy At The Monty Bar

Nik Turner of Hawkwind talks about his experiences with the late Lemmy Kilmister at The Monty Bar. (Photo by Lina Lecaro/LAist)
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A flamboyant fusion of black leather and glitter-drenched get-ups flooded the sidewalk in front of The Monty Bar in downtown L.A. Friday night for Pure Trash's "Heroes"—a star-packed tribute night honoring David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister. Numerous events celebrating both departed icons have been held around town this week and last, especially for Bowie, but this one may have gathered the most epic array of music stars for an open-to-the-public event, all of whom shared music and memories throughout the evening. It was a capacity crowd all night.

Those lucky enough to get in were treated to a unique, somewhat surreal evening of talk and rock that melded emotive eulogy with raucous dance party. The line-up included: Nik Turner of Hawkwind, Danny Lohner of Nine Inch Nails, Clem Burke of Blondie, Jerry Casale of DEVO, Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus and Love And Rockets, Billy Howerdel of A Perfect Circle, Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy, Clint Mansell of Pop Will Eat Itself, Douglas Mccarthy of Nitzer Ebb, Wes Eisold of Cold Cave and Lol Tolhurst of The Cure, all of whom shared their recollections about Bowie and Lemmy's impact on their music and the music world as a whole.

Fans gather at The Monty Bar to hear tales of David Bowie and Lemmy Kilmister from fellow rock stars. (Photo by Lina Lecaro/LAist)
Bauhaus' Haskins recounted his experience on the set of Bowie's vampire thriller The Hunger, in which his band performed his glam classic, "Ziggy Stardust." A life-long fan, Haskins described the surreal moment the singer guided and advised his band on how to perform the song.

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Casale and Burke also revealed Bowie's nurturing side. "DEVO would not exist without David Bowie," Casale explained and went on to recall how the Akron, Ohio band was discovered from a pile of cassette tapes that Iggy Pop and mentor Bowie listened to in hopes of unearthing new talent. DEVO became Bowie's favorite new band and he famously introduced them as such at their first ever New York gig, at Max's Kansas City. Casale played tracks from Diamond Dogs because, he said, that tour was in many ways a catalyst for DEVO's members to form the band, who all attended the same concert. Similarly, Blondie drummer Clem Burke said all of Blondie's members attended Bowie shows, and were heavily inspired prior to coming together.

Later-era artists such Lorner (NIN) and Key (Skinny Puppy) spoke of Bowie's outsider appeal, and how his various personas and lyrics made them feel like it was possible to express themselves musically, however they chose to do so. "If it wasn't for David Bowie there'd be no Skinny Puppy— there'd be no nothing. He's the guy who changed it all."

Wes Eisold of Cold Cave DJs at The Monty Bar. (Photo by Lina Lecaro/LAist)
Just when it seemed the night was going full-throttle Bowie, the procession of guests wound down (and got 'winded'up) by an elder statesmen of rock, Nik Turner of Hawkwind (Lemmy Killmister's best known band before Motörhead). Turner recalled his first meeting with the gruff rocker buying drugs, and how he asked him to be his bassist. Kilmister didn't play bass, but Turner told him he didn't know how to play his instruments either and that never stopped him. Lemmy of course, joined the space rock oufit, and went on to become known for his unique chord-driven bass playing style and their Kilmister-penned cut "Motorhead"—which went on to be the name of his next band.

"Heroes" was another stellar night at Pure Trash, the weekly DJ night promoted by Lethal Amounts Gallery a few spaces down from The Monty Bar. The club has showcased some big names in rock behind the decks and attracted big names as patrons (last night Gary Numan and The Smiths' Andy Rourke were in the house) and kicked off the new year with a (cherry-) banging New Year's Eve bash featuring The Runaways Cherrie Currie. Lethal Amount's Danny Fuentes told us, "With this night, I just went for it. I called everyone. Nobody was paid. People needed to share their feelings and process this loss with each other. It was a funeral for the fans in a way, and a lot rock stars happen to be fans." Fuentes added that he has more rockin' with icons and idols planned for the Friday night fete but said, "I really don't know how I can top this one."

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