Motorhead frontman Lemmy dies aged 70
The gravel-voiced veteran, one of rock and roll’s great survivors despite a hard-partying lifestyle, was diagnosed with cancer on Saturday — two days after his 70th birthday — and died on Monday.
A godfather figure in heavy rock music, the singer and bass player with the band dubbed the world’s loudest was the embodiment of rock and roll excess.
“Our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer,” the band said on their official Facebook page.
“He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favourite video game from The Rainbow, with his family.
“We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.”
Kilmister lived a cramped flat in Los Angeles stuffed with memorabilia. He was typically to be found inside the nearby Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Strip, playing a fruit machine.
He is considered a heavy metal pioneer — though he always insisted Motorhead was a rock and roll band — and cut an iconic figure, with his mutton chop sideburns, long hair, prominent facial warts, black hat and black shirt.
Kilmister lived an unwavering life of booze, cigarettes, women, drugs and relentless touring.
“That’s what I always said I wanted to be remembered for, for being honest. Nothing else is worth a damn,” he once said.
‘Born to lose, lived to win’
The band said in their statement: “We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please play Motorhead 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. He would want exactly that.
“Born to lose, lived to win,” they added.
His death comes a month after that of Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, the band’s former drummer, who was 61.
Kilmister was born in Stoke-on-Trent in central England on December 24, 1945 and grew up on the Welsh island of Anglesey.
He was a roadie for legendary US guitarist Jimi Hendrix and was in the space-rock band Hawkwind, singing their best-known song, “Silver Machine”. He was sacked after a drugs bust and founded Motorhead in 1975.
Motorhead’s classic hit was the 1980 song “Ace of Spades” and the band released more than 20 studio albums.
Fans and fellow rockers reacted with shock to Kilmister’s death. Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne said: “Lost one of my best friends, Lemmy, today. He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.”
Nikki Sixx, of US band Motley Crue, added: “I’ll miss you buddy and our conversations. You were always a pillar of dignity. RIP Lemmy.”
British rock band Judas Priest tweeted: “We will simply say farewell Lord Lemmy thank you for the music, the shows.”
A life of legendary tales
Kilmister put his longevity down to never taking heroin, but he was not shy of taking other drugs: he claimed he once stayed awake for two weeks on speed.
He drank a bottle of whiskey a day with cola, but in recent years switched to vodka and orange to help manage his diabetes.
Kilmister was fascinated by military memorabilia and uniforms and his flat contained an impressive array of historic weaponry.
He claimed to have slept with more than a thousand women, but insisted this was not so surprising given how long he had been going.
Lemmy never married, saying one had to choose between home life and the road, but had a son called Paul.
Kilmister’s health had suffered in recent years and he cut a more frail figure in 2015 but the band stayed on tour, playing the Glastonbury Festival in June.
Motorhead were due back on the road in 2016, with a 20-date, one month European tour starting in Newcastle on January 23.
“If I have to die and be on my deathbed regretting decisions I made, I’m not interested in that,” he once said.