This Lemmy article was written by Bethan Brace, a GIGsoup contributor
Rock legend Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister has died, aged 70, two days after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Motörhead, Lemmy’s current band, confirmed through a statement on Facebook that ‘our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer’, and have requested that fans ‘play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD. Have a drink or few.’
Born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, on 24th December 1945, he moved to Anglesey at the age of 10. He gained the nickname Lemmy at school. He later told the Seattle Times ‘I can’t recall what my first word was, but it was very loud’.
After becoming romantically linked with a girl from Stockport, Lemmy moved to her hometown, where he became involved in the local music scene. This led to the formation of his first band, Rockin’ Vicars, who were infamous for playing the Manchester music scene whist dressed in clerical attire.
Moving to London to make his fortune, he had various music-related jobs, including being a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, before becoming the bassist for Hawkwind. He left the band in 1975 due to ‘pharmaceutical differences’, as his love for amphetamines was very far from the band’s preferred hallucinogenics. Having only played rhythm guitar before this, his stint in the space-rock band allowed him to develop his distinctive, fast and thrashing bass style.
This led to him forming a band that he couldn’t be fired from. Despite his best efforts to name the band ‘Bastard’, they settled on Motörhead. This was the beginning of a new era of rock.
Known for being one of the loudest bands of all time, Motörhead revolutionised rock music, introducing punk elements to the genre to create their iconic thrashing, aggressive and ear-splittingly loud sound.
To this day, Lemmy remains to be one of the most iconic rock legends of all time. Well known for his classic rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of excessive sex, drugs and alcohol, he was one of the true heroes of rock from his dyed mutton chops to his larger-than-life warts. A hellraiser in a sea of musicians controlled and limited by their public image, Lemmy simply didn’t care about anything other than living life to its fullest. To quote the man himself, ‘the only time I’m easy’s when I’m killed by death’.
For many he was the God of Rock, and was one of the best known figures and voices in the world of music. From seeing The Beatles performing at The Cavern Club, to being a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, to fronting bands including Rockin’ Vicars, Motörhead and Hawkwind, Lemmy was involved with every step of the rock revolution.
RIP Lemmy. We’ll all raise a glass (or bottle) of JD for you, and wherever you are now, we hope there’s whiskey, women and LOUD music.