Rock & Roll Heaven: Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister (1945 – 2015)


Ian Fraser Kilmister - "Lemmy" to millions of metal fans -- was born December 24, 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and grew up in North Wales. His musical awakening came at the age of 16, when he saw The Beatles perform at The Cavern Club. Inspired, he learned to play the songs from their first album, "Please Please Me." In addition to admiring the music, he liked the lads' cheeky attitude - especially that of a young John Lennon.

A few years later, Lemmy joined the Stockport-based band The Rainmakers, and then another band, The Motown Sect. The group played northern clubs for three years before Lemmy departed for The Rockin' Vickers. That group managed to get a record deal with CBS and toured Europe. Lemmy later worked with space rock band Hawkwind between 1971 and 1975.

He found his calling in 1975, when he formed "Bastard" with guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. After an industry friend told him he'd never get on the show "Top of the Pops" with a crude moniker, he christened the group "Motorhead." Shortly after, Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, and a metal legend was born.

While the band's sales peaked in the 1980s, they remained a beloved fixture of the metal community for decades. Their best known song, which remained a concert staple throughout their career, was "Ace of Spades."

In addition to his music career, Lemmy was known for making cameos in film in television, including the 1987 film Eat the Rich and 1990 science fiction film Hardware. Motorhead also wrote the soundtracks for both films.

Lemmy as "Dr. Rock" in Eat the Rich

He was also the subject of a documentary film, Lemmy, and the main character in the 16-bit videogame "Motorhead," released for the Commodor Amiga and Atari ST in 1992.

Lemmy trailer

Motorhead full videogame

Lemmy went to Rock and Roll Heaven on December 28, 2015, four days after his 70th birthday, and two days after being diagnosed with cancer. Upon the announcement of his death, his bandmates requested that Motorhead fans "Play Lemmy's music LOUD. Have a drink or a few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself."

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