Heavy Metal Legend Ian “Lemmy” kilmister sadly died December 28 2015 age 70 after succumbing to an extremely aggressive form of cancer. Born 24 December 1945 his nickname originated from the phrase “lemmy [lend me] a quid till Friday” because of his habit of borrowing money from people to feed his addiction to fruit machines. He saw The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club when he was 16, then played guitar along to their first album, Please Please Me, learning the chords. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon Upon leaving school and with his family relocated in Conwy, Lemmy undertook a few temporary jobs including working at the local Hotpoint factory while also playing guitar for local bands, such as The Sundowners, and spending time at a horse riding school. At the age of 17, he met a holidaying girl named Cathy. Lemmy followed her to Stockport, Cheshire, where she had his son Sean.
In Stockport, he joined local bands The Rainmakers and then The Motown Sect who enjoyed playing northern clubs for three years. Wanting to progress further, in 1965 he joined The Rockin’ Vickers who signed a deal with CBS, released three singles and toured Europe, reportedly being the first British band to visit Yugoslavia. With the band living in a Manchester flat, he had a relationship with a girl named Tracy who bore him a son, Paul Inder, although it would not be until the boy was six that Lemmy had any involvement with him.In the film Lemmy he speaks briefly of having another son by an unnamed woman. It appears this child was adopted because the mother has only recently “found him” and “hadn’t got the heart to tell him who his father was”.Wanting to progress, Lemmy relocated to London in 1967. Sharing a flat with Noel Redding and Neville Chesters, he got a job as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1968 he joined Sam Gopal and recorded the album Escalator and the single “Horse”. At that point Lemmy was thinking about changing his legal name to his stepfather’s surname of Willis, and appeared on the Escalatoralbum as Ian Willis; but he decided changing his birth certificate and passport would be too much hassle, so did not bother.After meeting Simon King in a Chelsea shopping centre in 1969, he joined the band Opal Butterfly, but the group soon folded, having previously failed to raise enough interest with their preceding CBS singles.An attempted reconciliation in 1970 between Lemmy and his birth father broke down, with Lemmy describing him as a “nasty little weasel”.
ln 1972, Lemmy joined the space rock band Hawkwind, as a bassist and vocalist. He had no previous experience as a bass guitarist, but quickly developed a distinctive style that was strongly shaped by his early experience as a rhythm guitarist, often using double stops and chords rather than the single note lines preferred by most bassists. His bass work was a fundamental part of the Hawkwind sound during his tenure, perhaps best documented on Space Ritual. He also provided the lead vocals on a number of songs, including the band’s biggest UK chart single, “Silver Machine”, which reached No.3 in 1972. ln 1975 Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind after he was arrested at the Canadian/US border in Windsor, Ontario on drug possession charges; he spent five days in jail. Lemmy was released without charge as Windsor Police had arrested him for possession of cocaine and after testing the evidence it turned out to be speed. So according to Canadian law at the time, he couldn’t be charged with anything and was released with no charge or conviction.
He went on to form a new band called “Bastard” with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took’s Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. Lemmy’s connection with Took (formerly of T. Rex) was not limited to Wallis, as they were personal friends and Took was the stepfather to Lemmy’s son, Paul. When his manager informed him that a band by the name of “Bastard” would never get a slot on “Top of the Pops”, Lemmy changed the band’s name to “Motörhead” – the title of the last song he had written for Hawkwind.Lemmy playing bass and singing. The high microphone position has become a Lemmy trademark.Soon after, both Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and with this line-up the band began to achieve success.
The band’s sound appealed to both Lemmy’s original fans and to fans of punk rock. he also played with The Damned for a handful of gigs when they had no regular bassist Lemmy’s guttural vocals were unique in rock at that time, and would not be copied until the rise in popularity of punk. The band’s success peaked between 1980 and 1981 with a number of UK chart hits, including the classic single “Ace of Spades”, which is still a crowd favourite and the #1 on the live album No Sleep ’til Hammersmith. Motörhead have since gone on to become one of the most influential bands in heavy metal and although Lemmy is the only constant member, are still performing and releasing records. Despite Motörhead’s many member changes over their 37-year history, the current lineup of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee has remained constant since 1995.
Lemmy has also worked with a number of other musicians over his career and occasionally guests with Hawkwind. He wrote the song “R.A.M.O.N.E.S” for the Ramones, which he still plays in his live sets as a tribute to the band. He was brought in as a songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne’s 1991 No More Tears album, providing lyrics for the tracks “Hellraiser”, (which Motörhead would later record themselves and release a single), “Desire”, “I Don’t Want to Change the World” and the single “Mama I’m Coming Home”. Lemmy has noted in several magazine and television interviews that he made more money from the royalties of that one song than he had in his entire time with Motörhead. After being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes in 2000, which led to a brief hospitalisation, Lemmy again appeared with Motörhead at WrestleMania 17.
Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever in November 2002. In 2005, Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performancecategory with their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”. Since 1990 he has lived in Los Angeles, California, currently resident in a two-room apartment two blocks away from his favourite hangout, the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Unfortunately in 2000, Lemmy was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes, and this led to a brief hospitalisation. In 2002 Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever .In 2005, Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category with their cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”. In October 2009 it was announced that he had been involved in recording a cover of “Stand by Me” featuring Lemmy on vocals and bass, Dave Lombardo of Slayer on drums, which was made for professional skateboarder Geoff Rowley. In 2011 Lemmy also appeared on the song Debauchery As A Fine Art from Michael Monroe’s new solo album called Sensory Overload.