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MOTÖRHEAD Frontman Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister Dies Aged 70
December 28th, 2015


‘Lemmy’ Kilmister


Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, frontman of hard rock trio Motörhead, died on December 28th, 2015 at the age of 70 following a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. The bassist / vocalist had learnt of his condition just two days prior.

Motörhead issued the following statement: “There is no easy way to say this… our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer. He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made it’s way down the street, with his family.

“We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.

“We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please… play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD. Have a drink or few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself. HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.

“Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister

“1945 -2015

“Born to lose, lived to win.”

Former Motörhead guitarist Fast ‘Eddie’ Clarke shared the following words, meanwhile: “I have just been told that Lemmy has passed away in LA. Like Phil (former Motörhead drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor), he was like a brother to me. I am devastated. We did so much together, the three of us. The world seems a really empty place right now. I am having trouble finding the words…

“He will live on in our hearts. R.I.P Lemmy!”

A memorial service for Lemmy was held on January 9th at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California.

Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister was born Ian Fraser Willis in Burslem, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, England on December 24th, 1945. His father – a Royal Air Force chaplain – abandoned him at three months of age, Lemmy being raised by his mother and stepfather in North Wales. It is often claimed that Lemmy’s nickname derived from a habit of asking people to “lemme a fiver”, but Lemmy actually adopted the name from his childhood fondness for the fictional character Lemuel ‘Lemmy’ Barnet, who featured in the 1950’s BBC Radio series Journey Into Space.

From 1965 to 1967, the musician handled guitar duties for The Rockin’ Vickers. Previous outfits included The Rainmakers and The Motown Sect. Rooming with bassist Noel Redding, he later roadied for Jimi Hendrix, subsequently changing his surname to Kilmister – the surname of his biological father. In 1968, Lemmy joined the ranks of psychedelic rock ensemble Sam Gopal for a brief tenure, lending vocals, lead and rhythm guitar to 1969’s Escalator.

Kilmister joined English space rock band Hawkwind in 1972 as a bassist, providing lead vocals for top five UK single ‘Silver Machine’. Three studio records in all featured the rhythmist, namely Doremi Fasol Latido (1972), Hall Of The Mountain Grill (1974), and Warrior On The Edge Of Time (1975). In addition, live jaunt Space Ritual arrived in 1973. Following an arrest for drug possession in Canada during 1975, the four-stringer was dismissed.

Later that year, Kilmister formed a band provisionally titled Bastard, rounded out by erstwhile Pink Fairies axeman Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. That moniker was revised to Motörhead, the name of the final track Lemmy wrote as part of the Hawkwind fold. The composition was re-recorded for intended debut On Parole, which was shelved by record label United Artists. Cut in September 1975 at Rockfield Studios in Wales, the effort didn’t surface until December 1979.

During recording sessions for the LP, Fox was replaced by drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor. Taylor had known guitarist Fast ‘Eddie’ Clarke when the latter was a foreman working on a houseboat, attempting to fund a music career. Ultimately, the drummer introduced Clarke to frontman Lemmy Kilmister, suggesting the axeman replace the departed Larry Wallis – Wallis wished to focus on the Pink Fairies. Dubbed the “classic” Motörhead line-up, the trio recorded the following studio affairs; Motörhead (1977), Overkill (1979), Ace Of Spades (1980), and Iron Fist (1982). In addition, the trio were featured on 1981 live outing No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith.

Throughout their 40-year history, Motörhead issued 22 studio full-lengths as well as a brace of live outings. 22nd studio full-length album Bad Magic was released on August 28th, 2015 through UDR Music / Motörhead Records. Motörhead’s latter day line-up was completed by guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, Dee having joined in 1992.

A Grammy for Best Metal Performance was awarded to Motörhead in 2005 for their cover rendition of the Metallica track ‘Whiplash’, the trio having earnt a nomination five years earlier for a cover version of the Metallica track ‘Enter Sandman’.

1991 Ozzy Osbourne record No More Tears boasts four sets of lyrics authored by Lemmy. Autobiography White Line Fever arrived in 2002, with documentary Lemmy: 49% Motherf**ker, 51% Son Of A Bitch surfacing in 2010.