Lemmy, Motorhead frontman, dies aged 70 after cancer diagnosis
Lemmy formed the rock group Motorhead in 1975 and recorded 22 albums, including Ace of Spades, as he became one of music’s most recognisable voices and faces. The band said “Our mighty, noble friend Lemmy has passed away after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.” Lemmy was born Ian Fraser Kilmister in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1945.
He lived in Anglesey, Wales, as a child and acquired the nickname Lemmy while at school, although he claimed to have had no idea where it came from. As Lemmy of Motorhead, he became known for his fast and furious bass guitar playing and gravelly voice. Lemmy was also credited with introducing punk sounds into the heavy metal genre and having a wild offstage reputation.
He first became involved in the Manchester music scene, before going to London. There he had a stint as a roadie with Jimi Hendrix and briefly played in progressive rock band Opal Butterfly. In 1972 he joined space-rock band Hawkwind on bass but left after being busted for drug possession on a tour of Canada in 1975.
Lemmy went on to form Motorhead – the name is US slang for someone who takes speed – and recorded 22 studio albums with the band between 1977 and 2015. The band achieved critical acclaim with the 1980 Ace of Spades album, which reached number four in the UK chart. They recently released Bad Magic and were set to play dates in the UK and Europe over the next few months as part of a world tour.
The band urges fans to play Lemmy’s music loud and “have a drink or few”, saying: “Celebrate the life this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself. “He would want exactly that.”
Lemmy, who was the only constant member of Motorhead, lived in Los Angeles and died at home with his family on Monday. He had been diagnosed with cancer on Saturday – two days after his 70th birthday.
Lemmy performed with Motorhead in Munich last month. His death comes just weeks after former Motorhead drummer Phil Taylor died at the age of 61. Ex-Motorhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who played with the group between 1976 and 1982, said “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!”