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Lemmy Kilmister
LEMMY KILMISTER (1945-2015).jpeg
Born 24 December 1945(1945-12-24) in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
Died 28 December 2015 (aged 70) in Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality British
Known for Motörhead, Hawkwind, The Rockin' Vickers, Opal Butterfly, The Damned, The Head Cat
Occupation Singer, musician, songwriter (1960–2015)
Children 2

Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister (1945–2015) was an English singer, songwriter and bass guitarist, most famous for being the founding member of the heavy metal band Motörhead. His appearance, facial moles, mutton chops, and gravelly voice, have made him an instantly recognizable cult figure, known beyond the world of rock music. Lemmy is considered as one of the great heavy metal musicians.


Lemmy's apartment in the 1980s
Lemmy's apartment in Los Angeles in 2010

Lemmy was born in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, England and raised in Anglesey, North Wales. His father, a clergyman, left the family when Lemmy was three months old. His meaningless nickname was acquired from his Welsh friends as a child.

Early Career

Ian Fraser „Lemmy“ Kilmister II.jpg

Kilmister spent the 1960s as a guitarist in a number of obscure bands (such as Rainmakers, Motown Sect, Opal Butterfly, Sam Gopal, and The Rockin' Vickers) as well as working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix in 1967, and also as a roadie for The Nice. In 1971, Kilmister joined the space rock band, Hawkwind, who were based in Ladbroke Grove, London. He had little experience as a bass guitarist, but quickly developed a distinctive style that was strongly shaped by his early experience as a rhythm guitarist, often using double stops and chords rather than the single notes preferred by most bassists. Kilmister's bass work was a fundamental part of the Hawkwind sound during his tenure, perhaps best documented on Space Ritual. He also provided lead vocals on a number of songs, including the band's biggest UK chart single, "Silver Machine", which reached No. 3 in 1972.


Lemmy collected German World War II memorabilia, had an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass and proudly wore a Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross around his neck, which has led to accusations of right-wing extremist tendencies; however, Lemmy considers himself an anarchist, saying that "government causes more problems than it solves" and that he is "anti-communism" According to Keith Emerson, as written in his autobiography, two of Lemmy's Hitlerjugend knives were gifted to Keith Emerson himself during Lemmy's time spent as a roadie for The Nice. Emerson used these knives many times as "keyholders" during his famous wrestling sessions with the Hammond Organ during the shows with The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

It is also reported that Lemmy sent flowers to the Ian Stuart funeral when he passed on. It is widely known that Ian and Lemmy were friends during the 70's when Motörhead and Skrewdriver both recorded albums on the Chiswick Records label.


In 1975, Kilmister was fired from Hawkwind after he was arrested at Canadian customs on possession charges; he spent five days in prison. Kilmister went on to form a new band with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took's Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. Lemmy's connection with Took (formerly of T Rex) was not limited to Wallis, as they were personal friends and Took was the step-father to Lemmy's son, Paul. This new band was originally called Bastard. When his manager informed him that a band by that name will never get a slot on "Top of the Pops", Kilmister changed the band's name to Motörhead - the title of the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind.

Soon after, both Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, and with this line-up the band began to achieve success. The band's sound appealed to both Lemmy's original heavy metal fans, as well as to fans of the nascent punk rock scene. In fact, Lemmy asserts that he generally feels more kinship with punks than with heavy metal; he even played with the The Damned for a handful of gigs when they had no regular bassist[7] — and Lemmy's guttural vocals were unique in the world of rock at that time.

The band's success peaked between 1980 and 1981 with a number of UK chart hits, including the classic single Ace of Spades (still a crowd favourite today) and the #1 live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith. Motörhead have since gone on to become one of the most influential bands in the heavy metal music genre, and although Lemmy is the only constant member, are still performing and releasing records to this day. Despite Motörhead's many member changes over their 30 year history, the current lineup of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee has remained constant since 1995.

Lemmy has also worked with a number of other musicians over his career, and occasionally guests with Hawkwind. He was brought in as a songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne's 1991 No More Tears album, providing lyrics for the tracks "Hellraiser", (which Motörhead later released on their "Hellraiser" single) "Desire", "I Don't Want To Change The World", and the massive hit "Mama I'm Coming Home". Lemmy has noted in several magazine and television interviews that he made more money from the royalties of that one song than he had in his entire time with Motörhead. In 2005 Motörhead won their first Grammy, beating out such modern contemporaries like Slipknot, Killswitch Engage, Hatebreed, and Cradle of Filth, in the Best Metal Performance category with their cover of Metallica's "Whiplash".

He has made a number of appearances in film and television, including the 1990 science fiction film "Hardware" and the 1987 comedy "Eat the Rich", for which Motörhead also recorded the soundtracks. In the 1994 comedy "Airheads" (in which he is credited as "Lemmy von Motörhead"), he shouts (truthfully) about being the editor of his high school newspaper. He has also appeared in several movies from the Troma studio. Having a predilection for self-deprecating parody, he once appeared in an advertisement for "Kit Kat" chocolate bars, miming a piece of chamber music on the violin, in an upper-class tea-room. Lemmy published his autobiography "White Line Fever" in November 2002.

Motörhead performed the entrance theme song "The Game" for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s Triple H (who at one point wore his mustache and sideburns like Lemmy as a tribute), as well as "Line in the Sand" for Triple H's now defunct wrestling stable, Evolution. In 2006, they once again provided theme music for the WWE as they recorded the song "King of Kings" for Triple H on the Wreckless Intent CD.

The band disbanded in 2015 due to Lemmys death.

Discography (excerpt)

  • 1965 The Rockin' Vickers - Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart/ Stella (7")
  • 1965 The Rockin' Vickers - It's Alright / Stay By Me(7")
  • 1966 The Rockin' Vickers - Dandy / I Don't Need Your Kind (7")
  • 1969 Sam Gopal - Escalator
  • 1970 Opal Butterfly - Groupie Girl (7")
  • 1972 Hawkwind - Silver Machine/ Seven By Seven (7")
  • 1972 Various artists: Revelation triple album (one side of Hawkwind)
  • 1972 Various artists: Greasy Trucker's Party (one side of Hawkwind)
  • 1972 Hawkwind - Doremi Fasol Latido
  • 1973 Hawkwind - Lord Of Light (7")
  • 1973 Hawkwind - Urban Guerilla (7")
  • 1973 Hawkwind - Space Ritual
  • 1974 Hawkwind - Hall Of The Mountain Grill
  • 1974 Hawkwind - Psychedelic Warlords (7")
  • 1974 Robert Calvert Ejection/ Catch A Falling Starfighter (7")
  • 1974 Robert Calvert - Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
  • 1975 Hawkwind - Kings Of Speed (7")
  • 1975 Hawkwind - Warrior on the Edge of Time
  • 1977 Hawkwind - Masters of the Universe (compilation)
  • 1979 The Damned - I Just Can't Be Happy Today/ Ballroom Blitz (with Lemmy on bass) / Turkey Song(7")
  • 1979 The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette
  • 1980 The Young & Moody Band - Don't Do That (7" & 12")
  • 1981 Headgirl (Motörhead & Girlschool) - St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP
  • 1982 Lemmy & Wendy O. Williams - Stand By Your Man
  • 1984 Hawkwind - Earth Ritual Preview (12" EP)
  • 1984 Robert Calvert - Freq
  • 1984 Various artists - Hear'n'Aid
  • 1985 Hawkwind - Space Ritual Vol. 2 (compilation live)
  • 1985 Hawkwind - In the Beginning (live)
  • 1986 Hawkwind - Approved History Of Hawkwind 1967-1982
  • 1988 Albert Jarvinen Band - Countdown
  • 1989 Nina Hagen - Nina Hagen
  • 1990 Lemmy & The Upsetters - Blue Suede Shoes
  • 1990 Various artists - The Last Temptation Of Elvis: Blue Suede Shoes
  • 1990 Hardware - Original Soundtrack
  • 1992 Various Artists - Hellraiser III:Hell on Earth (Original Soundtrack)
  • 1993 The Damned - Tales From The Damned
  • 1994 Fast Eddie Clarke - It Ain't over Till It's Over
  • 1994 Shonen Knife - Tomato Head (promo single)
  • 1994 Shonen Knife - Rock Animals
  • 1996 Skew Siskin - Electric Chair Music
  • 1996 Ugly Kid Joe - Motel California
  • 1996 Myth Dreams of World - Stories of the Greek & Roman Gods & Goddesses
  • 1996 Skew Siskin - Voices From The War
  • 1997 Various artists - Dragon Attack: A Tribute To Queen
  • 1997 The Ramones - We're Outta Here!
  • 1998 Various artists - Thunderbolt: A Tribute To AC/DC
  • 1998 Various artists - ECW: Extreme Music
  • 1999 Jetboy - Lost & Found
  • 1999 Skew Siskin - What The Hell
  • 1999 Hawkwind - Epoch Eclipse: 30 Year Anthology (compilation box)
  • 1999 A.N.I.M.A.L. - Usa Toda Tu Fuerza
  • 2000 Lemmy - Slim Jim & Danny B - Lemmy - Slim Jim & Danny B
  • 2000 Swing Cats - A Special Tribute To Elvis
  • 2000 The Rockin' Vicars - The Complete - It's Alright
  • 2000 Various artists - Bat Head Soup - Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne
  • 2000 Doro - Calling The Wild
  • 2001 The Pirates - Rock Bottom
  • 2001 Various artists - Metallic Assault - A Tribute To Metallica
  • 2001 Hair of the Dog - Ignite
  • 2001 Various artists - Twisted Forever
  • 2001 Various artists - Frezno Smooth (Original Soundtrack)
  • 2001 Various artists - WWE: The Music, Vol. 5
  • 2002 Various artists - Guitar Greats
  • 2002 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Mike Batt and guests - Philharmania
  • 2002 Various artists - Metal Brigade
  • 2002 Various artists - Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three
  • 2003 Various artists - Ash Wednesday (Original Soundtrack)
  • 2003 Ace Sounds - Still Hungry
  • 2003 Skew Siskin - Album Of The Year
  • 2004 Probot - Probot
  • 2004 Various Artists - The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie Soundtrack (with Motörhead, contributed "You'd Better Swim")
  • 2004 Various Artists - Metallica: The Ultimate Tribute Album (This has Motörhead doing Whiplash for which they won the grammy)
  • 2004/5 Various - Numbers From The Beast: An All Star Salute To Iron Maiden - Trooper
  • 2005 Hawkwind - Take Me to Your Leader
  • 2005 Throw Rag - 13 Ft. and Rising - Tonight the Bottle let me Down
  • 2005 Skew Siskin - Devil's Disciple (Compilation)
  • 2006 Lemmy - Damage Case (Compilation)
  • 2006 The Head Cat - Fool's Paradise
  • 2006 Various artists - WWE Wreckless Intent- King Of Kings

External links