Ian Fraser Kilmister, known as Lemmy Kilmister, died at age 70 on Monday, twenty days after a European tour in which he put all his energy. Founder of rock band Motörhead, singer and bass guitarist, Lemmy was diagnosed with “an extremely aggressive form of cancer” on Dec. 26.
“We are profoundly saddened to learn about the passing of our friend, Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister. He was, and will forever be, the perfect embodiment of rock and roll, who for over four decades had an immeasurable impact on music”, writes the Motörhead team on its official website.
According to Sweden’s Expressen, Drummer Mikkey Dee confirmed there won’t be more tours or records without Lemmy but said that the Motörhead brand survives, since the frontman will live forever in the hearts of everyone. Dee revealed that Kilmister had been “terribly gaunt” and ended up very tired after the recent European tour. Still, the drummer, who replaced Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor in 1992, expressed how amazed he was because Lemmy gave it all in spite of his health problems and the tour didn’t have to be cancelled. Dee also said he was grateful over the years he could spend with him and the great time they had together.
Phil Campbell, the band’s guitarist since 1986’s Orgasmatron, tweeted on Tuesday morning that life wouldn’t be the same without the man he considered as a friend and brother. He finished his tweet with the phrase “PLAY IT LOUD”. In an interview for Soundcheck magazine in 1985 Lemmy said he loved playing as fast as possible and loud, pushing amplifiers to their limits. “If Motörhead moved in next to you, your lawn would die”, he said.
Guns N’ Roses’ drummer Matt Sorum shared a photo of himself with Kilmister on Instagram, alongside the caption, “Honored to have known this great man, under the tough exterior he was a kind and gentle soul, I loved him deeply.” Sorum toured briefly with Motörhead in 2009 during Dee’s filming of the Swedish version of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
Lemmy Kilmister led the British rock band for four decades and was the author of hit songs interpreted by Ozzy Osbourne and the Ramones, to which he alongside his fellow Motörhead members paid a tribute in 1990 by writing the song R.A.M.O.N.E.S. They performed it in concert and in the studio. Kilmister influenced many heavy-metal bands such as Metallica and Foo Fighters.
Motörhead’s frontman was born in Stoke on Trent, England, on Dec. 24, 1945. He was raised in Wales, where he became known as Lemmy, and attended Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones School in Amlwch, which he left at age 16. Kilmister started working in a factory, then became a guitarist and moved to London. His first band was Hawkind and in 1972 sang the hit “Silver Machine”.
After he was arrested in Canada for possessing drugs, Lemmy was fired from Hawkind. The charge was later dropped and he decided to form his own band, calling it just like the last song he had written for his first band: Motörhead. Since it was founded in 1975, Motörhead sold over 30 million albums.