Tuesday 12 January 2016

Obituary: Lemmy Kilmister 1945 – 2015

Born To Lose, Live To Win...

“Death is an inevitability, isn’t it? You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.” – Lemmy Kilmister

This obituary may be running a little late but it isn't written with any less love because of it. Infact it has been due to the outpouring of love from Lemmy's friends and fans that this feature has been delayed until after the enigmatic musician's webcast funeral.

Only once every so often does a man such as Lemmy Kilmister come along. The founder and leader of arguably the loudest band on the planet Motörhead lead an uncompromising lifestyle. He was the hard drinking, hard living poster boy for the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. A lifestyle that claimed many of his friends and colleagues long ago. But the man born Ian Fraser Kilmister outlived so many of them it looked as though he was truly indestructible. With his trademark bass style, unusual microphone positioning and gruff recognisable voice Lemmy was unique, in fact Hunter S. Thompson's line in 'Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas' could have been a perfect summing up of Lemmy's life – “Too weird to live, too rare to die”.

But on December 28th 2015, just days after his 70th birthday, the man that allegedly drank a bottle of Jack Daniels a day and had a long-term affair with amphetamines and yet still lived to beyond retirement age sadly died following a short battle with an extremely aggressive form of cancer.

Lemmy was born in Stoke-On-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945. His father a former RAF chaplain separated from his mother just months after his birth. The family moved around a little before his mother married an ex-footballer and they relocated to Wales. Lemmy did not get on with his new stepfather's children and would soon grow to find an interest in Rock 'n' roll and girls. In his teens he began playing in local bands and working menial jobs. He then met a girl called Cathy and followed her to Stockport where they had a son.

Lemmy continued to play in small local bands before joining The Rockin' Vicars and gaining a record deal with CBS. He would go on to roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and play with the band's Sam Gopal, and later Opal Butterfly which were all short-lived. In 1971 though, Lemmy joined space rockers Hawkwind and switched from guitar to bass. He developed a distinctive style of playing informed by his previous experience as a rhythm guitarist which enhanced the Hawkwind sound. His high point with the band saw him take lead vocals on the band's smash hit single 'Silver Machine', but soon after he was fired from the band.

In the aftermath of his release Lemmy founded a new more raucous outfit he initially called Bastard, but after being informed he's never get on Top Of The Pops with a band called Bastard he rechristened them Motörhead and brought in guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. And the rest, as they say is history.

Motörhead pioneered a frantic and aggressive style of rock 'n' roll which became a major influence on both the emerging punk and heavy metal movements. Though Lemmy said he always had more affinity with the punk scene, indeed sharing the stage with the likes of The Damned and allegedly trying to teach Sex Pistols “Bassist” Sid Vicious how to play. But the band's loud uncompromising style drew them into the pantheon of the heavy metal greats.

The band's biggest mainstream success came with the release of the single and album 'Ace Of Spades', as well as the live recording 'No Sleep Til' Hammersmith'. Motörhead would go on to release a total of 22 studio albums the last of which, 'Bad Magic' was released in august 2015 to strongly favourable reviews from critics and fans alike.

Lemmy and by proxy Motörhead's appeal was in the reality they projected. Lemmy was straight-talking, down to earth and raw. The man onstage was the same as the man offstage. He never worried about being trendy, just being true to himself.

Lemmy was diagnosed with cancer only days before his death and only shortly after completeing the band's last tour. He had previously been diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension, and in 2013 he had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator fitted. His cancer diagnosis had given him two – six months to live, but Lemmy died on 28th December 2015 at home. His manager, Todd Singerman, later revealed: “He (Lemmy) gets home (from tour), we have a big birthday party for him at the Whisky A Go Go. His friends came down and played. Two days later I could tell he wasn't feeling good so we took him to the hospital, they release him, then after the brain scan they found the cancer in his brain and his neck... The doctor comes with the result a couple of days later and says... it's terminal.”

The news of Lemmy's passing was announced on the band's facebook page with a statement that read:
“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 its 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.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
1945 -2015
Born to lose, lived to win.”
Tributes came pouring in from peers such as Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Metallica, Anthrax and even WWE Professional Wrestler Paul Michael Lavesque whose character 'Triple H' regularly uses Motörhead songs as his entrance themes.

On Saturday 9th January, Lemmy's funeral was broadcast live from Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery over the internet and saw stars such as Slash, Scott Ian, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo in attendance while Foo Fighters founder and Probot bandmate Dave Grohl closed the service with a moving eulogy which was unfortunately not broadcast in its entirety due to the feed cutting out. In the UK after Lemmy's death was announced a facebook campaign gained momentum to try and get Motörhead's 'Ace Of Spades' single to the first number one spot of 2016. The campaign was partly successful with the song entering the top 20 at number thirteen which is higher than it's best position (fifteen) during it's initial release.

Lemmy made an indelible mark on rock and metal. He was an icon of the genre that helped defined it and through it he lived his life to the fullest. As he said in a Classic Rock Magazine interview: “I don't do regrets. Regrets are pointless. It's too late for regrets. You've already done it, haven't you? You've lived your life. No point wishing you could change it.”

R.I.P Lemmy Kilmister


Download post as PDF file
Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

[Valid Atom 1.0]

Click to download our free compilation albums!


Radio Nightbreed