Early Lemming

Lemming is still around in 2010, although they are called The Lemming right now. Nowadays singer Wally Slot is better known as Wally McKey. He and drummer Tony Gloudy are the only original members left after 35 years of blood, coffins, whips, many line-up changes and more blood.

A major source of inspiration for the group came from some obscure 70s adult horror comics series, with titles like Lucifera and Jacula. Wally: "I've had them all! That's how I came up with the name Lucifera (the name of Lemming's dancer, in real life she was a professional striptease dancer). I remember walking down market-squares and just noticed that stuff. Those comics were great and really intrigued me. Later on I went back to that market and bougt the whole series of Lucifera and Jacula. Later on I would change the name of Jacala into Queen Jacula (the name of Lucifera's successor) because in those comics she was still a neat girl compared to Lucifera!"
Life Colour, letter to Veronica Magazine 1973
Life Colour, letter to Veronica Magazine 1973;
note the two hangmaen in the back

Lemming stemmed from a band called Life Colour, and hailed from the village of Rockanje, just south of Rotterdam. "At that time (around 1972) we already had a rather pornographic show and Dick du Bois had seen it. His son Richard was producer for Dizzy Man's Band amongst others, and that's how it all started. Richard dropped by with his partner Peter van Asten (aka Peter Bewley, ex-member of Amsterdam) to our show and they were mightily impressed and wanted to sign us. But Willem van Kooten of Red Bullit Publishing found our name to be rather boorish and wanted us to change it. I found that terrible! First he came up with Checkpoint Lemming. I asked him where "Checkpoint" came from. He answered "That's a sub-race of the lemming." I said: "man, you're talking with your arse." Then I proposed to make it just The Lemming, but he was opposed to "The", because that was out of fashion in those days. And he was right, you know back then you just left out the "The". You know, just like The Golden Earrings who had just changed their name to Golden Earring. Looking back to it now, I find Lemming a brilliant name. As a matter of fact I saw that animal for the first time in my life only a few years ago. I thought: "what a little fucker that is".

Comic Lucifera    Lucifera    Comic Jacula

At that time (around 1972/3) Lemming was still heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, their act was a pure horror show. "Our tour manager at the time spread the word that our drummer Tony Gloudie had a complete torture cellar at his home. Not true at all of course, but we didn't deny it! In fact I couldn't sing at all but our shows were always packed. Coffins, electric chairs, hangmen, torches, smoke bombs, you name it. The next day you could always tell from the colour of your shit which colour the smoke bombs were! So bizarre. It always smelled like hell onstage. Those hangmen, I find them rather embarrassing looking back at it, cos' they looked a bit Ku Klux Klan like. The two brothers were six feet tall, while I was only a small geezer. Our dancer was called Rebecca DaFaria, cast as Lucifera. Her real name was Irene. When she first came to Lemming she was already full of bruises, always black and blue. They said I was to blame because of those rape scenes we did on stage, and because I was rather wild on stage. But I wasn't that wild! Later on it turned out she had leukamia. That's why she had to quit after only two and a half years. She was hospitalized in a german clinic and a year later she died. Later on we had a replacement, Paulette Bronkhorst, who would later on become a part of Champagne. But that finished quite quickly, you either have it in you or you don't".

"When I was hanging on my cross on stage, and those hangmen were whipping me, Rebecca was supposed to liberate me. That was a rather horny part. Just check some of the old pictures and you can see to which part of my body she hold on to, haha! But I found her a slut of the first order, I never took advantage of her. The other guys in the band did, but I didn't. Don't misunderstand me, she was really cute. A cute slut, yeah. I could get on with her really well. A great woman.

I often heard "Aren't you going too far with all that nudity?" Especially thinking of my father. I'm from a very Christian family, you know. But my family have always supported me. Even my sister, who is a vicar... But nothing embarrassed me. I didn't have a sense of guilt, you know. I even went all naked in Muziek Expres magazine."

Once we were kicked out of Staphorst (a dutch village where, according to poplular belief, the most radical and conservative of dutch Christians live). That was fantastic! In 1973, when we were on the verge of breaking trough, people in Staphorst weren't aware of what the devilish band was that was going to perform there. They just didn't know who were coming to visit them. The local youths knew all right, but church authorities didn't. Those people only found out about it at the end, when people started calling them up. "The guy's got an alter on stage! He's chanting satanic verses!". While I only did that at the time to shock my newly wed family, you know, cos' they were always talking about me. I was thinking: "I'm gonna get you, you bunch of Reformed pharisees! On stage I would read from a paper scroll and I called on the devil. In those two years 1972/1973 I was seriously involved in satanism. Yeah I really studied that.

"Eventually those gigs didn't always end up peacefully. Sometimes things would get real wild and heated, things would get out of hand. It may have escaped the attention of most music journos, but in fact we had our own little Altamont. Two deaths in Rotterdam, yeah sudden aggression from the audience. When we found out about it, some people were all covered in blood, we stopped our show. We tried to help, went along with them to the toilets, tried to stop the bleeding with those linen things that were hanging there. But two people died. It was only in the local papers, only three or four lines. Nobody seemed to connect the events to Lemming although it all happened inside the venue where we performed."

Lucifera ('73), Father John ('74) and Queen Jacula ('75) all made it to the charts. Still the impression remained that Lemming were more of a producer's band. Their sole album (featuring singer Wally Slot, bassist Tinny Durell, drummer Tony Gloudie and ex-Shocking Blue guitarist Martin van Wijk) only seemed to confirm that fact. Van Asten and Du Bois wrote the singles as well as the epic Suicide Without Fear, which clocks in at ten minutes. Only the few remaing songs were written by the band members themselves. Wally vehemently denies this suggestion: "I wrote the lyrics for Lucifera, but Van Asten and Du Bois just sort of claimed them. I didn't care at the time cos' I didn't know shit about copyrights. They did the music-part and I was fine with that. But our tour manager said: "man, they're pinching your ideas!" I didn't care back then, but looking back, we missed out on some 24.000 guilders, and that was quite a lot of money at the time. But Father John, it's true that song was done by Richard and Peter, although I made up the intro part with the prayers in Latin."

In the second half of the seventies Lemming was suffering badly from a changing music scene. Disco, punk and new wave were the new thing, and moreover audiences would somtimes react in a very hostile way to the fact that Lucifera wasn't in the band anymore. Their second album Names And Faces remained unissued in 1981.
"Planet of Love became a minor hit in Belgium and that was it. I stopped early '82 and I started doing completely different things. What? Well, I'm not really proud of that period and I hate it when people try to enhance their image by stating they've done this or that. But okay, I went steady at that time with some half Indonesian girl and she dragged me into the world of escort services. I who didn't give a shit about money... I was making shiploads of money then. For four years in a row I just followed my prick wherever it guided me. I had left music completely. In hindsight I would have been better off spending my precious time on the art of composing."

Based on an article by Chris van Oostrum for Revolver magazine, October 2008.

Complete early Lemming singles discography:

1973Lucifera / I Feel FreePolydor
1974Bangon / No Later At AllPolydor
1974Father John / Crazy AgainPolydor
1975Queen Jacula / Fun With MePolydor
1975Planet of Love / ShoutPolydor
1976Clown / GypsiePolydor
1976Evelyn / BangonPolydor
1976Good Morning / Take Your TimePolydor
1976Rock n Roll Love / Gyspie EyesPolydor
1977Red River Valley / Surfin'LovePolydor
1978The Last Clown / SallyPhilips
1980Names And Faces / Let Me Be In LoveRCA
1981I'll Take You Back / Let Me Be In LoveRCA
1981Crazy Spider / Don't Push Your Love On MeCBS (prod Hans van Hemert)
1981Being Alive / Fun With MePolydor
Lemming cd-Compilation       Lemming's sole album 1974
Lemming cd-Compilation                                                                                                                        Lemming's sole album 1974