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Motorhead rocker Lemmy Kilmister dies of cancer aged 70

  • Motörhead founder and frontman Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister has died aged 70
  • Veteran rocker was diagnosed with cancer just two days before his death
  • The British heavy metal band had been due to tour the UK this January
  • Tributes have been pouring in from figures within the music community
  • Rocker said he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels a day for ‘many years’

By

Dan Cain

and
Sam Tonkin For Mailonline


Published:
20:05 EST, 28 December 2015

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Updated:
06:54 EST, 29 December 2015

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Many a hell-raiser has boasted of a life filled with booze, sex and drugs, but very few have lived it with the conviction and defiance of Lemmy, legendary Motörhead frontman, who has died aged 70.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve, Ian Kilmister committed himself to rock-and-roll after watching the Beatles at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club as a teenager.

He worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, played bass in a band called Hawkwind – before being kicked out for his drug use – and founded Motörhead – all on a bottle of Jack Daniels a day.

He also boasted of sleeping with 1,000 women, built up an impressive – if controversial – collection of Third Reich memorabilia and entertained millions despite an ever-growing list of health problems.

The most recent diagnosis was on Boxing Day, when Lemmy was told he had an aggressive form of cancer. 

Just 48 days later, the rock icon lost his life to the disease, surrounded by family at his Los Angeles home.

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Hell-raiser: Motörhead frontman Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister at Stringfellows, London, in 2010

Hell-raiser: Motörhead frontman Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister at Stringfellows, London, in 2010

Music icon: Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, pictured performing at Glastonbury this summer

Music icon: Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, pictured performing at Glastonbury this summer

Reaction: Tributes to Kilmister have poured in from well-known artists and figures within the rock and metal community following his death on Monday. Here he is pictured playing in Helsinki earlier this month

Reaction: Tributes to Kilmister have poured in from well-known artists and figures within the rock and metal community following his death on Monday. Here he is pictured playing in Helsinki earlier this month

Shock: Motörhead's official Facebook page confirmed the death of the veteran rocker at his Los Angeles home

Shock: Motörhead’s official Facebook page confirmed the death of the veteran rocker at his Los Angeles home

Some of music’s brightest stars have today paid tribute to the heavy metal legend, who co-wrote some of the bands most recognisable tracks, including the 1980 hit Ace of Spades.

Ozzy Osbourne tweeted: ‘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.’ 

Grammy award-winning band Motörhead, who released 23 studio albums over a 40-year period, announced Kilmister’s death on their official Facebook page.

The post read: ‘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 it’s 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.’

His death comes just over a month after the passing of his bandmate Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor.

Tributes have poured in for Kilmister from well-known artists and figures within the rock and metal community following his death on Monday.

Sharon Osbourne tweeted: ‘My dear friend, Lemmy, passed away today. I’ve known him for 38 years. He will be so missed but he will never be forgotten.’

While musician Billy Idol posted: ‘Lemmy RIP…. @mymotorhead my condolences to his family..’ 

Queen guitarist Brian May said: ‘Sitting here, Re-Tweeting, distracted, and wondering what I can possibly say about our utterly unique friend Lemmy’s passing. Ouch.’

Black Sabbath founding member Geezer Butler said: ‘Very sad to hear of Lemmy’s passing. We’ve lost a true, true legend. RIP.’ 

 

 

Rock legends Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol posted tributes to Lemmy Kilmister on Twitter

Rock legends Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne and Billy Idol posted tributes to Lemmy Kilmister on Twitter

Sad post: Ozzy's wife Sharon also posted a moving message about her friend of 38 years 

Sad post: Ozzy’s wife Sharon also posted a moving message about her friend of 38 years 

Ex-Motorhead guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, who played with the heavy metal group between 1976 to 1982, also paid tribute to his friend, saying ‘he was like a brother to me’.

‘I am devastated. We did so much together, the three of us. The world seems a really empty place right now. I am having trouble finding the words … He will live on in our hearts. R.I.P Lemmy!’

Kiss star Gene Simmons said: ‘Lemmy: Rest In Peace. Shake the heavens, my friend.’ 

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.’

Rock band Judas Priest tweeted: ‘Words about Lemmy can never be enough so we will simply say farewell Lord Lemmy thank you for the music, the shows.’

Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer added: ‘RIP #Lemmy heaven is Rockin tonight.’ 

Heavy metal band Metallica posted: ‘Lemmy, you are one of the primary reasons this band exists. We’re forever grateful for all of your inspiration. RIP’.

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea wrote: ‘Lemmy got let in on the big secret. One of the greatest rockers of all time. Amazingly unique incredible bass player. My hero. Wow.’ 

‘My friend died today. We’ll all miss you. Your name was Lemmy, and you played Rock n Roll. Rest in Peace, my man. #RIPLemmy’, shared Slipknot’s Corey Taylor.

Sad tribute: Actress Juliette Lewis paid her respects to her 'hard living' yet 'soft spoken' friend

Sad tribute: Actress Juliette Lewis paid her respects to her ‘hard living’ yet ‘soft spoken’ friend

Inspiration: Metallic posted a shared statement about their 'primary' source of inspiration as a band 

Inspiration: Metallic posted a shared statement about their ‘primary’ source of inspiration as a band 

Shocked: Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea was in a state of complete shock at the news 

Shocked: Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea was in a state of complete shock at the news 

'Rest In Peace': Tributes also came flooding in from the likes of Slipknot star Corey Taylor 

‘Rest In Peace’: Tributes also came flooding in from the likes of Slipknot star Corey Taylor 

Mötley Crüe vocalist Vince Neil shared, ‘Wow just heard, Lemmy was a friend and legend. #Rip’.

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan added: ‘Rest In Peace Lemmy. A hell of a man who suffered no fools. U shall be missed brother, and, THANK u 4 the years of unwavering kick ass R&R.’

But his unique brand of heavy metal resonated with fans outside the genre.

Rapper Ice T said: ‘Just got the sad news about the loss of Lemmy from MOTORHEAD….. RIP ‘Raise Hell Homie …

‘I got to hang with Lemmy.. Did a song and this video for a movie. LEGEND.’

Beverley Knight, who is starring as Grizabella in Cats the musical, said: ‘That wonderful gravelly voice now silenced.’

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 
Ozzy Osborne

And author Neil Gaiman added: ‘RIP Lemmy, a man I saw playing the fruit machines in late night dives, and once thanked for getting me in to one.’

Figures from the world of wrestling, with which the band had a close affinity, posted messages of sorrow. 

WWE star Triple H said: ‘RIPLemmy One life, lived your way, from the beginning, till the end See you down the road my friend … Thank you for the gift of your sound.’

Ex-WWE wrestler ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, added: ‘Damn just heard Lemmy passed away. Swig of beer to one bad ass original rocker. Motorhead one of the all time influential bands.’

And Dubba Ray Dudley, also a WWE star, tweeted: ‘Who would win in a fight GOD or #Lemmy? Very sad. RIP brother. Glad to have met you and drink Jack n Cokes with you!!’

The news of Kilmister’s death in Los Angeles was originally broken by respected rock DJ Eddie Trunk via a series of posts on his Twitter account.

His post read: ‘Sorry to report that I have confirmed Lemmy @mymotorhead has passed away just now at the age of 70. RIP to a true original icon of rock.’

He followed it with: ‘Sadly this news is 100% confirmed and just happened. Let’s celebrate a true rock warrior and icon who gave us timeless music! #RIPLemmy’.

True greats: Motörhead's last line-up, with guitarist Phil Campbell, Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Mikkey Dee

True greats: Motörhead’s last line-up, with guitarist Phil Campbell, Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Mikkey Dee

Kilmister, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945, founded Motorhead in 1975. The group later became one of the defining metal bands of the 1980s.

He wrote in his autobiography, White Line Fever, that he had been fired from his previous band Hawkwind for ‘doing the wrong drugs’. 

His exit followed his arrest at the Canadian border for possessing cocaine and spent five days in prison, causing the band to cancel some of a US tour.

Famous for his hard-rocking lifestyle, Kilmister said he drank a bottle of Jack Daniels every day for many years, and also claimed to have slept with more than 1,000 women. 

He said he had never married because the love of his life, a woman named Susan Bennett, had died of a heroin overdose aged 19. He dedicated his autobiography to Ms Bennett.  

But he had struggled to quit his vices in his later years, according to the band’s manager Todd Singerman.

 

The news was originally broken by respected rock DJ Eddie Trunk via a series of posts on his Twitter account

The news was originally broken by respected rock DJ Eddie Trunk via a series of posts on his Twitter account

Kilmister was also known for his extensive – and controversial – collection of Third Reich memorabilia. 

He even had an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, leading to accusations that he had Nazi sympathies. 

But he maintained he ‘only collected the stuff. [he] didn’t collect the ideas.’

In one interview, he said: ‘By collecting Nazi memorabilia, it doesn’t mean I’m a fascist, or a skinhead. I just liked the clobber.

‘I’ve always liked a good uniform, and throughout history, it’s always been the bad guys who dressed the best: Napoleon, the Confederates, the Nazis.’

The musician, who suffered from diabetes, had been plagued with health problems in recent times and the band were forced to postpone a string of shows earlier this year. 

In an interview with Decibel magazine last year, Singerman revealed: ‘He’s been up and down — he’s got a really bad diabetic problem and it changes on a daily basis.

‘A lot of it is fighting the bad habits, the things he’s not supposed to do any more. He’s stopped smoking, but he probably sneaks Jack and Coke here and there — he’d be lying if he said he’d stopped.’ 

Hours before appearing at the Monsters of Rock Festival in Brazil in April, Kilmister was reportedly taken ill with gastric distress and dehydration.

And in 2013, the band were forced to postpone shows in Italy and Austria after the rock veteran suffered a haematoma.

In the same year he was fitted with a defibrillator to correct heart problems.

In a recent interview with German magazine Lust For Life, Kilmister reportedly said he had been ‘close to death’ during his last surgery.   

Ace in the pack: Kilmister, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945, founded Motorhead in 1975 after being fired from previous band Hawkwind

Ace in the pack: Kilmister, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945, founded Motorhead in 1975 after being fired from previous band Hawkwind

‘It was the only moment I was stalked by the devil called doubt. I wondered if I’d make it. I’m not afraid of death – I often sing about it. 

‘So I wasn’t shaking in my bed, but I did have the feeling I wasn’t done yet. I still wanted to do shows and make records. That feeling pulled me through all this.’ 

Motörhead were set to tour the UK in January in support of their 23rd album ‘Bad Magic’, which was released in August of this year.

In June, the band graced Glastonbury festival for the first time in their 40-year history, playing a triumphant afternoon set on the Pyramid Stage.

Motörhead are perhaps best known for their single Ace Of Spades, while the fanged face that appears on their album artwork has become one of rock’s most recognisable figures.

It took several years for the band to break into the popular charts, which came when they achieved critical acclaim with the 1980 Ace Of Spades album, which reached number four in the UK chart. 

MailOnline has contacted a representative for Kilmister and is awaiting comment.

THE RISE TO FAME OF A ROCK ICON

Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister was born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945 to a father who was an RAF pastor and a librarian mother.

After his father left just three weeks after his birth, Kimister was brought up by his mother and grandmother. It was apparent from an early age he would not follow a conventional path in life.

In his autobiography, he wrote: ‘I had problems at school right from the start. The teachers and I didn’t see eye-to-eye: they wanted me to learn, and I didn’t want to… 

‘I played truant constantly, and that was it from day one, really.’ 

He picked up his nickname aged 11, when he moved to Anglesey, north Wales, with his mother and her second husband. 

After finishing school, and a brief stint working at a riding school, Lemmy worked at a washing machine factory.

He later Stockport in Manchester where he became involved in the local music scene, eventually joining a band called The Rockin’ Vickers.

He left the group in 1967 and moved to London in search of fame and fortune. He also spent seven months travelling with Jimi Hendrix as a roadie.

Five years later he became a bassist for Hawkwind.

In 1975 he formed Motorhead, but after two years of little recognition and living in squats, the group decided to split and played farewell show at the Marquee Club in London.

But a record producer at the gig offered the band some time in studio to record a single. 

The group made the most of the opportunity, eventually recording 13 tracks that formed their first album. Called Motorhead, it reached number 43 in the UK charts.

The Grammy-award winning band took several years to break into popular consciousness. 

But it all changed in 1980 with the release of their fourth album, Ace of Spades, which went on to become one of their biggest hits. Over the the next 30 years released a further 17 albums.

Motörhead’s loud, fast style was a pioneering force in heavy metal, with Kilmister’s vocal growl and aggressive bass inspiring countless other bands. 

The group recently celebrated their 40th year by releasing their 23rd studio album, Bad Magic, and were set to play dates in the UK and Europe over the next few months as part of a world tour. 

Lemmy attracted much controversy throughout his career, never making any secret of his alcohol and drug intake, and openly posing in Nazi paraphernalia in 2008.

But he defended the move claiming he did not support the ideology, and was simply a fan of the uniforms.

Lemmy was an avid collector of German military regalia, and had an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, leading to accusations that he had Nazi sympathies.

However, in a 2010 interview he said: ‘I only collect the stuff. I didn’t collect the ideas.’ 

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