Singer, musician and songwriter
Ian Fraser Kilmister, better known as Lemmy, was born on Christmas Eve in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
When he was just three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain and concert pianist separated from his monther.
His mother and grandmother moved to nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme and then to Madeley.
When Lemmy was ten years old, his mother married the former football player George Willis. George already had two children older than Lemmy from a previous marriage. Their names were Patricia and Tony. Lemmy didn’t get along with them.
The family moved to a farm in the Welsh town of Benllech, Anglesey. Later, this event made Lemmy remember that: “funnily enough, being the only English kid among 700 Welsh ones didn’t make for the happiest time, but it was interesting from an anthropological point of view”.
He was nicknamed “Lemmy” at the Sir Thomas Jones’ high school in Amlwch that he attended. Some suggested that the name originated from the phrase “lend me a quid ’til Friday” because of his alleged habit of borrowing money from people to play slot machines. Lemmy never confirmed this, but said that he did not know the origin of his nickname.
He soon started to show an interest in rock and roll music, girls, and horses.
At school, Lemmy was impressed to see how a pupil who had brought a guitar has been “surrounded by chicks”. Even though he couldn’t play, he took to school a guitar that belonged to his mother. He enjoyed seeing that this event made him be surrounded by girls.
By the time he left school, before the end of the fifth year after an argument with a teacher, his family had moved to Conwy, where his mother bought a smallholding.
There he worked at the Hotpoint factory in Llandudno Junction, where also his stepfather George worked, but he didn’t like this job as it was really repetitive and it just drove him crazy.
At the Hotpoint factory, Lemmy, along with another machine shop worker, was sent home and told not to return until, for safety reasons, he either had a haircut or agreed to wear a hairnet.
Mike Wilmore, one of his former co-workersfrom Old Colwyn, remembered their time together at the factory saying:
“Can you imagine Lemmy agreeing to wear a hairnet? The other lad came back complete with short back and sides and Lemmy walked. ”
Apart from working, he was also playing guitar for local bands such as the Sundowners and enjoyed spending time at a horse-riding school.
He was influenced by rock and roll and the early works of the Beatles, which led to him playing in several rock groups in the 1960s, including the Rockin’ Vickers.
Lemmy saw the Beatles perform at The Cavern Club when he was sixteen, and then learned to play along on guitar to their first album Please Please Me. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon.
One year later, he decided to leave North Wales after meeting a holidaying girl called Cathy, later following her back to Stockport. There, he joined “The Rocking Vicars”, a rock and roll band from Blackpool who signed a deal with CBS, before becoming a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, going on to join Hawkwind in 1972 before forming Motorhead in 1975.
Godfather of heavy metal
Lemmy was an English musician and singer-songwriter who founded and fronted the rock band Motorhead. His music was one of the foundations of the heavy metal genre.
He was also known for his unmistakable bass playing style in which he used his Rickenbacker bass to create an “overpowered, distorted rhythmic rumble”.
Another unique aspect of Lemmy’s bass sound is that he often played power chords using growling overdriven Marshall tube bass stacks.
Alongside his music career, he also had many minor roles and cameo appearances in film and television.
Lemmy worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and The Nice, before joining the space rock band Hawkwind in 1971, singing lead vocals on their hit “Silver Machine”.
After being fired from Hawkwind for drug possession in 1975, he founded Motorhead during the same year as the lead singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman. Motorhead’s success peaked in 1980 and 1981 and included the hit single “Ace of Spades” and the top charting live album “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith”.
Lemmy continued to record and tour regularly with Motorhead until his death in 28 December 2015 in Los Angeles, where the had lived since 1990.
Sadly, four days after his 70th anniversary, Lemmy died at his apartment in Los Angeles at 4pm PST from prostate cancer, cardiac arrhztmia and congestive heart failure.
Motorhead announced his death on their official Faceboo page later that day. According to the band, his cancer had only been diagnosed two days prior to his death.
Lemmy’s memorial service took place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, on 9 January 2016. The service was streamed live over YouTube with more than 230,000 people logging on to watch, while others gathered at the Rainbow. His body was cremated following the funeral.