During a recent conversation with Landry Audio, Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian shared a story of late Motorhead leader Lemmy’s struggle with diabetes, explaining how “a cigarette literally saved him from having a part of his body amputated.”
“He literally almost lost a couple of toes. When he was in the throes of figuring out diabetes and all that, a couple of his toes went black from bad circulation and all this.
“He saw some doctor in LA and they were like, ‘Oh, [you must go under the knife] immediately. You’re gonna lose the toes,’ and this and that. And he was like, ‘I need a second opinion.’
“He flew back to London and saw a doctor there, and it was the same kind of thing: ‘We need to get these off. It’s an emergency.’
“So he goes to have the surgery done and he’s sitting in this office. He’s smoking a cigarette and someone tells him, ‘You’re not allowed to smoke in here. What are you – crazy? You can’t smoke in this office.’ And he said, ‘Well if I’m gonna fucking lose a toe, I’m gonna have a fucking cigarette.’
“Long story short, they said, ‘You can’t smoke in here,’ and he said, ‘Well, then I won’t be in here.’ And he left.
“He ended up seeing another doctor, and they literally told him, ‘You just need to change this or this in your diet, and your feet are gonna be fine.’ And he changed his diet, and he didn’t have to have his toes cut off.
“So a cigarette literally saved him from having a part of his body amputated.
“That’s when he started using Diet Coke instead of regular Coke in his Jack-and-Cokes, I believe. The doctor literally told him: ‘Switch to Diet Coke, and you don’t have to lose your toes.’ [Laughs]”