In Memoriam: Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy Kilmister

It’s another tough day in the bass world. Rock icon and bass legend Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who fronted Motörhead since 1975, has died at the age of 70. The news was confirmed by the band’s Facebook page.

“There is no easy way to say this,” the statement read. “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. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.”

Kilmister was born December 24th, 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. He began playing guitar at 16 after seeing The Beatles perform at the Cavern Club and started bouncing around bands in 1960. Lemmy moved to London in 1967 to share an apartment with Noel Redding, bassist for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and subsequently worked as a roadie for Hendrix.

He didn’t pick up the bass guitar until joining the space rock band Hawkwind, but his previous experience as a rhythm guitarist helped to shape his unique playing style. Kilmister was fired from the group after his substance abuse got out of hand. It was the same year he began Motörhead, whose mix of rock, punk and metal inspired a generation. As the bandleader, Kilmister and Motörhead put out twenty-three studio albums, ten live recordings, twelve compilation albums and five EPs. Their final album, Bad Magic, was released on August 28th.

Kilmister’s failing health was apparent from several performances this year in which the sets were cut short. “Death is an inevitability, isn’t it?,” the bassist said. “You become more aware of that when you get to my age. I don’t worry about it. I’m ready for it. When I go, I want to go doing what I do best. If I died tomorrow, I couldn’t complain. It’s been good.”

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lemmy Kilmister.

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  1. puddintame

    Lemmy was such a unique talent- it was apparent the first time you laid eyes on him and heard his blazing style on bass. I was knocked out within the first 10 seconds of “Ace of Spades”and have been a fan ever since. Love you, Lemmy.

  2. Mark S B.

    Lemmy rest in peace , we wont forget you.

  3. jason

    well It’s like losing another from the tribe us bass players in general we’re all very mellow and kind it’s a very sad day for anyone that’s picked up a bass guitar

  4. Petey

    Geez! Just read about him in bass player magazine! Great article, too. Didn’t know he’s been around that long. Such a tragic lose! My condolences goes to his family & band mates. May ‘Lemmy’ RIP.

  5. Rodney Spiers

    Lemmy is simply a legend of rock. RIP Lemmy

  6. Kleb

    I’ve been a devoted electric bass guitar player for 38 years now, loving the instrument, it’s tone (in all its forms and styles) and it’s “stars”. In my pantheon, Lemmy shares the sacred space that can only be reached through insight, vision, and unwavering passion. What an artist in the true sense. Such a one as you is very rare indeed. My deepest condolences to his friends and family. RIP LEMMY!