Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, the founder, lead singer, bass player and principal songwriter of the band Motörhead and a friend to many bikers in several clubs on several continents, died Monday in Los Angeles.
For more than a decade, Kilmister and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones epitomized British hard rockers who lived by poet Dylan Thomas’ most famous lines.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Just three weeks ago, in a story titled “I’m sick of being asked when I’m gonna die,” Kilmister told the website Classic Rock, “”I’m sick of the fucking, ‘Are you going to die?’ line of questioning. It’s getting really old, that question. I’m alright. I’m going out there and doing my best. I have good days and bad days but mostly I’ve been doing alright. The last tour of the States was very good.”
Earlier this year, he switched his usual Jack Daniel’s and Coke for something he thought might be healthier – orange juice and vodka. “Apparently I am still indestructible,” he remarked at the time.
In a statement on Facebook, the surviving members of Motörhead wrote: “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.”
A longtime friend of Kilmister and a prominent motorcycle club member in the United Kingdom writes: “Motörhead was the first band to adopt a biker type patch. He used to ride an AJS. Lemmy had the respect to ask us to approve it. Lemmy loved the biker contact. Not just with my tribe. And he played many gigs just for booze when the gate didn’t pay the overhead. He was generous. I’m gutted.”
Kilmister was born in Staffordshire, England at the end of 1945 to a minister father and a librarian mother. He first met the Beatles in Liverpool when he was 18. He was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix. He founded and was kicked out of a psychedelic band named Hawkwind in the 1970’s. Motörhead was the name of the last song he wrote for Hawkwind. Motorhead was slang for a methamphetamine abuser.
Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister turned 70 on Christmas Eve. Apparently, to almost everyone’s surprise, he wasn’t indestructible after all.
Requiscat In Pace