A question that cropped up on my online quiz a few leagues back was; true or false, Lemmy’s real name was Ian Kilminster and over 80% of people put true. Admittedly, for years I thought that too, but there really is no ‘n’, it’s Kilmister.
The world learned of the death of Lemmy when, on 28th December, the band posted the announcement of Motörhead’s own Facebook page. They requested fans to ‘play Lemmy’s music LOUD. Have a drink or few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.’
Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve 1945 and died just four days after his 70th birthday. He was born in Stoke-On-Trent but his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, and his mother separated when Ian was just three months old. After a few moves the family moved to where Ian grew up in Anglesey, North Wales.
When he left school he took a few small jobs to earn some money to buy a guitar, one of the jobs was working at a local Hotpoint factory. He saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and that inspired him to concentrate on the guitar and perfected it enough to play along to the whole of the Beatles debut album, Please Please Me.
During the sixties he joined a few different bands including the Rainmakers and The Rockin’ Vickers who actually signed a deal with CBS records. He left the band in 1967 and moved to London and ended up sharing a flat Noel Redding who was the bass player with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which, in turn, led him to become their roadie for a year. After a brief spell with a psychedelic rock bands called Sam Gopal and Opal Butterfly, he joined London band Hawkwind, not only as singer but as bass player as well, something he had no experience with, but was persuaded into by band member Dik Mik. His bass playing became a trademark of the band and Lemmy also sang lead vocals on Hawkwind’s most successful single Silver Machine in 1972.
In 1975 Lemmy was arrested in Ontario, Canada on drug possession, spent five days in prison and then sacked from the band. Wasting no time, he immediately formed a new band and brought in musicians he knew. Lemmy named themselves Bastard but it was when their manager advised him that they would never have an appearance on Top of the Pops, he changed the name and decided on the title of the last song he ever wrote whilst with Hawkwind and that was Motörhead.
Their debut hit in 1978 was a cover of Richard Berry & the Pharaohs’’ sing Louie Louie which scraped into the chart at number 75. This was followed six months later by Overkill which just made the top 40. Their first top hit may surprise you, it was an EP called The Golden Years Live with the lead track being a Holland Dozier Holland song called Leaving Here. Then came their most well-known song, Ace of Spades which only peaked at number 15. In 1981 they teamed up with the all-girl group Girlschool and recorded a cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates 1959 hit Please Don’t Touch as Headgirl – it reached number five and became their highest charting UK hit.
Lemmy wrote a song called R.A.M.O.N.E.S for the Ramones, he also made a cameo appearance in the 1990 film Hardware. In 1987 they recorded the soundtrack to the film Eat the Rich of which Lemmy also appeared in.
In 2005, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary called Motörhead: Live Fast, Die Old during which they claim that Lemmy had slept with over 2000 women. Lemmy in a different interview when asked if that was true said, “I said more than a thousand, they made two thousand of it.”
He was well known as a Jack Daniels man but, again, according to the documentary they stated that he drank a bottle a day and had done since he was thirty. No doubt Lemmy said a glass a day!
In later life he suffered from diabetes and so decided to cut down on his alcohol and drug intake. He died at home in Los Angeles on 28th December with the cause of death being given as extremely aggressive cancer.
In an interview with The Guardian earlier in 2015 Lemmy said, “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.”
The front page of the band’s website was changed to read: The band signed off: Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, 1945 – 2015. Born to lose, lived to win.