Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, founding member and singer in the British heavy metal band Motörhead, has died at the age of 70 shortly after learning he had been diagnosed with cancer. And by shortly, I mean SHORTLY. Kilmister learned he had an aggressive form of cancer on December 26th. On December 28th, he passed away. That’s the way to go, if you ask me. Bad news, and you’re OUT. No sitting around feeling sorry for yourself, no long goodbyes, no Kübler-Rossian 5 stages of Death. Just GONE. Good for him. It’s very rock ‘n roll.
Says the band on their Facebook page:
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.
Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.
HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
Born to lose, lived to win.
Please feel free to post your condolences, well wishes and memories on our official tribute page.
Friends, fans, and rock contemporaries have been tweeting their support.
Bernie Marsden of Whitesnake tweeted: “Spent many a evening chatting with him, especially about Hendrix! A great man. RIP x.”
James Kottak of the Scorpions said Lemmy was “a true friend … the real deal … RIP you will rock & roll forever”.
Geezer Butler, founding bassist of Black Sabbath, said: “Very sad to hear of Lemmy’s passing. We’ve lost a true, true legend. RIP.”
British music journalist Mark Beech tweeted that Lemmy had told him: “I will be killed by death. I might be killed by too much booze, women or music, but it’s not a bad way to die.”
From the Guardian‘s obituary:
Lemmy was born in Burslem, Staffordshire, on Christmas Eve in 1945. His musical career began in the early 1960s and he was, for a time, a roadie for Jimi Hendrix. He played in several rock bands, including the Rockin’ Vickers, Sam Gopal and Hawkwind, before founding Motörhead (originally named Bastard).
He wrote in his autobiography, White Line Fever, that he had been fired from Hawkwind for “doing the wrong drugs”.
Motörhead’s loud, fast style was a pioneering force in heavy metal. Lemmy’s vocal growl and aggressive bass playing has been emulated by countless other bands, but the singer joked that he largely learned on the job, telling Spin in 2012 that “the volume’s loud so nobody really notices that much”.
The band’s highest-rating record was the live album No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith, which peaked at number one on the UK album charts – a testament to the band’s crushing onstage performances.
Other highlights from Motörhead’s extensive discography include their second and third albums, Overkill and Bomber, both recorded in 1979, and several high-rating singles in the early 1980s. The Ace of Spades album reached number four in the UK charts, and the single number 15.
The band’s early years are credited with laying the ground for thrash and speed metal, but Lemmy consistently refused to categorise their music as either punk or metal, often playing to audiences of both genres.
Despite the band’s success, Lemmy said in interviews over the years that he had made more money from writing Osbourne’s 1991 hit Mama I’m Coming Home than from the entire Motörhead catalogue.
He told the Guardian earlier this year: “I didn’t really want to be in the lifestyle without the music. And I didn’t want to be in the music without the lifestyle.”
(Top photo: Pacific Coast News)