The book White Line Fever: Lemmy - The Autobiography is an autobiography of "Lemmy" Kilmister, the lead singer/Bassist of Motörhead.

It claims:

in 1980 his blood was officially diagnosed as toxic to other human beings.

This claim is repeated in TimeOut:

Lemmy was supposedly told his blood was so toxic a transfusion of pure blood would kill him… ‘Actually, I was told not to give anyone else a transfusion cause it’d kill them. I’ve never tried doing it, though – they told me not to didn’t they? Heh heh.’

(There's another version of the story, that he couldn't receive a pure blood transfusion. For example.)

Was Lemmy's blood too toxic to donate blood?

  • Where in the book does this line occur? Can you give enough context to make it clear whether this is a serious claim or a joke? What is the source of the claim that he can't receive an injection of pure blood? Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 5:23
  • Sorry I wasn't clear on the question, I just read the book's description on amazon. As for the second statement, I'll try to found that back but no "official" statement... But it's a common "myth" on Internet about Lemmy.
    – Nox
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 5:32
  • I don't have Lemmy's medical records; I doubt anyone here will. It sounds like this legend has been blown up from a simple ineligibility to donate blood, which could be from a variety of factors (IV drug use, HIV, other illness, recent tattoos, etc.)
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 5:52
  • My question (before it was all changed) was more about the medical state and if it's actually a thing to no be able to receive pure blood or even live without any drugs. Or the opposite, donate blood because that would cause the receiver to OD.
    – Nox
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 6:13
  • @TheRealNox: The title of the question didn't match that claim. If you want to ask a question about his ability to receive "pure blood" (whole blood?), please ask a separate question, quoting the claim. Also clarify if you are doubting that it is a general condition or that he has it in particular. (The latter is almost impossible to prove.) I don't know what you mean by "medical state"?
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Lemmy Kilmister is well known for his lifelong large intake of alcohol and this relates to the stated toxic effect of alcohol on his blood in 1980 (Lemmy's blood could be intoxicated by alcohol due to a daily bottle of Jack Daniel's since 1975 until 2013 unless he sobers up). In the documentary 'Live Fast Die Old', it was revealed that Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister drank a bottle of Jack Daniel's every day and had done so since he was 30 years old. A 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniels contains 28-30 units of alcohol (40% alcohol by volume) and the NHS recommends men should not regularly drink more than 3-4 units of alcohol a day.

"Acute alcohol poisoning" is a related medical term used by healthcare providers to indicate a dangerously high concentration of alcohol in the blood, high enough to induce coma, respiratory depression, or even death. Toxicologists use the term "alcohol intoxication" to discriminate between alcohol and other toxins. Per Jeffrey A. Kraut in 2008, "in addition to metabolic acidosis, acute renal failure and neurologic disease can occur in some of the alcohol-related intoxications." Statistics show 33,870 admissions were for the toxic effects of alcohol types which are common in alcoholic drinks consumed in England during 2012/13.

Per Harold S. Ballard's summary, "alcohol has numerous adverse effects on the various types of blood cells and their functions".

For example, heavy alcohol consumption can cause generalized suppression of blood cell production and the production of structurally abnormal blood cell precursors that cannot mature into functional cells. Alcoholics frequently have defective red blood cells that are destroyed prematurely, possibly resulting in anemia. Alcohol also interferes with the production and function of white blood cells, especially those that defend the body against invading bacteria. Consequently, alcoholics frequently suffer from bacterial infections. Finally, alcohol adversely affects the platelets and other components of the blood-clotting system.

However, as of 2013, Lemmy has stopped drinking Jack Daniel's for health reasons. In an interview with UK's classic rock magazine in 2013, although it's been reported that Lemmy used to drink a bottle of Jack Daniel's a day, he claims that those days are behind him. "I stopped drinking Jack Daniel's and Coke because the sugar in the Coke wasn't good for my diabetes," he said. "I don't drink much [anymore]."

Also, in another interview with Nathan Bevan in 2015, the singer says “The doctors said my blood was far too toxic for other humans,”. “They said, ‘what ever you do, don’t let him give any blood transfusions – there was all sorts of s*** in my system back in those days.” The interviewer says "But what about now Lemmy, you’re not getting any younger". The singer says “Nah, still smoke a pack and a half a day and drink a bottle of Jack,” he shrugs.

  • This is a plausible guess, but it doesn't show that he actually was actually precluded from donating, nor that the ban was reasonable.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 9:58
  • 1
    @Oddthinking-It is advised to defer donation if alcohol is consumed in last 12 hours and if "Lemmy" Kilmister drank a bottle of Jack Daniel's every day since 1975 when he was 30 years until 2013, wont his blood be toxic when taken for a transfusion at any given time during that duration ? Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 10:10
  • 2
    I see your point. Probably worth explicitly stating it - that his blood is toxic, until he sobers up.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 10:57
  • 2
    I think it's a good guess that "his blood is toxic" is a dramatic way of saying "he is not considered a safe blood donor". There are lots of possible reasons this could be, not necessarily related to alcohol. For example, under US rules, any history of intravenous drug use makes a person permanently ineligible to donate blood, and it's possible that intravenous drugs are part of what he meant by his vague reference to "all sorts of shit in my system". Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:15
  • IV drugs probably weren't a factor, at least based on his own admission. However, if they can preclude you based on the company he kept, then maybe they were.
    – Jake
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 13:26

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