December 29, 2015


Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister Dead at 70

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Ian Fraser Kilmister—known to the world as metal legend Lemmy and the sole constant member of Motörhead—has died. Motörhead's Facebook page confirmed the sad news in a post honoring the late rock star, adding that he passed away today (Dec. 28) "after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer." The London-born singer/guitarist/bassist had just celebrated a birthday on December 24. He was 70.

The news of the metal legend's death was first reported by radio/TV personality Eddie Trunk with sentiments quickly echoed by Ozzy Osbourne.

Lemmy was born in Staffordshire, England on December 24, 1945, and began playing in local bands in the early 1960s before relocating to London (and briefly serving as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience). 

In 1972, he secured his first major taste of success by joining space-rock outfit Hawkwind as a bassist-vocalist, despite having no previous experience on the instrument. During his stint in the band, he developed his signature, heavy chordal technique and contributed lead vocals to several songs. He was fired from the band in 1975 after being arrested at the American/Canadian border on drug possession charges.

His next move was forming a new band, Bastard, with guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. After learning another band had already taken that name, he changed the moniker to Motörhead, the title of a Hawkwind song. Lemmy then replaced his bandmates with new members – guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor – securing the classic line-up that recorded hard-rock/speed-metal anthems like "Ace of Spades" and "Overkill."

Though the band's most acclaimed period came in the late 1970s, Motörhead have survived throughout the decades, with Lemmy as the sole consistent member. Their most recent – and assumedly final – LP, Bad Magic, came out in August of this year. 

In 2013, the frontman suffered a hematoma and was fitted with a defibrillator to correct an irregular heartbeat. This past September, he canceled a handful of gigs after suffering complications from diabetes and a lung infection, and the band was forced to cut multiple concerts short.