Motörhead Frontman and Hard Rock Legend Lemmy Kilmister Dead at 70

Lemmy Kilmister, legendary singer and bassist of Motörhead, has died at the age of 70, according to the band's official Facebook page.

“If you're going to be a fucking rock star go be one,” he once told the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in an interview. “People don't want to see the guy next door on stage; they want to see a being from another planet. You want to see somebody you'd never meet in ordinary life.”

In 2011, years of hard drinking and drug use caught up with Kilmister: He was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to have surgery. “I can’t say I was really that surprised when the doctor told me I needed it,” he told Revolver in 2014. “When you’ve lived the life that I have, you should always expect something like that to crop up. I was not a good boy. I’ve had too much fun.”

In the end, however, it wasn't sex or drugs that killed Kilmister. “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,” the band said on its Facebook page. “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.”

Kilmister's thundering bass and trademark raspy vocals helped to drive the band’s unrelenting, hard-and-fast sound. Motörhead’s enduring hits include “Ace of Spades,” “Orgasmatron” and “Overkill.”

“We're different from everybody really, and this and that whole thing, so called. Cause we look like metal and we sound like punk, you know? So, there you go. Except we can play,” he said in a 2010 interview with Stay Thirsty Media.

While metal and punk fans around the world claim him as one of their own, Kilmister always pegged Motörhead a rock band.

“Fuck Elvis and Keith Richards, Lemmy's the king of rock 'n' roll — he told me he never considered Motörhead a metal band, he was quite adamant. Lemmy's a living, breathing, drinking and snorting fucking legend. No one else comes close,” Dave Grohl wrote on the Foo Fighter's website about Kilmister after recording with him.

Born Ian Fraser in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in 1945, Kilmister was the son of a vicar who abandoned him when he was three months old. He later took the name of his stepfather. After his family moved to Wales, Kilmister worked factory jobs as a teenager while playing guitar for local bands.

Most musicians wax poetic about their musical roots, but Kilmister was unromantic about becoming a musician: "I'm an egomaniac. I like being the centre of attention as much as anybody so I didn't mind. I was in it for the girls, to tell the truth,” he said in a 2005 interview with The Independent. “I think if more musicians told the truth, that would be the reason why most of them are in it. When you're young and you're desperate to get laid, you work out that being a bricklayer isn't that attractive. I was never going to be a doctor or a lawyer, so being a musician seemed to be the best of what was on offer."

In 1965, Kilmister moved to Stockton and joined the band The Rockin' Vickers. However, a mere two years later he relocated to London, where, between gigs, he worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix.

“As a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, I learned that I should give up being a guitar player,” he told Spin in 2012. “Anyone who watches Hendrix should give up the idea of being a fucking guitar player, ’cause he was so unbelievably good. He just took your breath away. He would just pull things out of it that you’d never believe, that you’d never heard before.” So, he took up the bass and joined the band Hawkwind as bassist and vocalist. When he was fired from the band in 1975, he co-founded Motörhead, to create “the dirtiest rock’n’roll band in the world. If you moved in next door, your lawn would die.”

The band hit its zenith between 1980 and 1981 with a number of UK hits, including the classic "Ace of Spades.” However, although it is one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, Motörhead has not racked up many industry awards. Most notably they have not been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But Kilmister never cared that much about that, stating “It doesn’t matter to me. The biggest room in that place is the gift shop,” in a 2014 interview. I don’t really care about being the best of anything. I just want to be good and I want to be recognized. We never set out to be the loudest band in the world. It just turned out that way. And in the end, I just want to be remembered for being an honest man. Really, I don’t mind how I’m remembered as long as I’m not remembered as an asshole.”


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