Lemmy Kilmister, leader of heavy metal’s Motorhead, dies at 70
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Ian Fraser Kilmister, the musician known as Lemmy who led and founded the high-octane heavy metal band Motorhead, died Monday at age 70.
A statement on the band’s Facebook page said the singer and bassist was suffering from “an extremely aggressive cancer” that was only diagnosed on Saturday, two days after his 70th birthday.
“Please … play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD,” the band wrote. “Have a drink or few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.”
Lemmy launched Motorhead in 1975, after a drug bust resulted in his ouster from his first big band, the psychedelic Hawkwind. Motorhead’s hard-driving sound appealed both to metalheads and to the burgeoning punk movement.
“We were more like the punks,” Lemmy told the Sun-Times in 2011. “And the punks always liked us. We were the only long-haired band who made it through that.”
He grew up on a farm in North Wales wanting to breed horses. “I was going to breed stallions when I was 13,” Lemmy said in the 2011 interview. “But I heard rock ’n’ roll and it was over. Rock ’n’ roll became my new farm. Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis started it. Without them, none of us would be here.”
Lanky and long-haired, with mutton chops and moles, Lemmy looked and lived like a hard-rock hero. He began every legendary live show with the announcement, “We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll!”
Ozzy Osbourne called him “one of my best friends.”
“He will be sadly missed,” Osbourne wrote on Twitter late Monday. “He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.”
Metallica tweeted: “Lemmy, you are one of the primary reasons this band exists. We’re forever grateful for all of your inspiration.”
And numerous other rock musicians took to social media to pay tribute, including Queen guitarist Brian May, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue and Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, who tweeted, “RIP #Lemmy heaven is Rockin tonight.”
In a Tuesday statement, Alice Cooper called Kilmister “one of the most beloved characters in rock’n roll. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t adore Lemmy; you can’t say ‘heavy metal’ without mentioning Lemmy.”