Lemmy Kilmister

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Lemmy (2005)

Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister (born December 24, 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent , Staffordshire , England , † December 28, 2015 in Los Angeles , California ) was a British rock musician , member of the space rock band Hawkwind , founder of Rock band Motörhead as well as their singer and bass player .


Lemmy with electric guitar (2006)

Lemmy Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve 1945 in Burslem, a district of Stoke-on-Trent. His biological father was a field chaplain in the Royal Air Force during World War II , and his mother was a librarian . The father left the family shortly after Lemmy's birth. Kilmister attended elementary school in Madeley, a village near the town where he was born.

When he was ten years old, his mother married former professional footballer and factory owner George Willis and the family moved to Benllech, a seaside resort on the Wales island of Anglesey . After Kilmister was expelled from school at the age of 15, he worked in a riding school and factory until he left his parents' house at 16 and moved to Manchester , where he played in various bands.

In the late 1960s Kilmister went to London and initially kept himself afloat with odd jobs, including as a roadie at the Jimi Hendrix Experience and The Nice . In the early 1970s he joined the space rock band Hawkwind as a bass player , from which he was kicked in 1975 and therefore immediately founded Motörhead . In 1990 he moved to Los Angeles , where he lived until his death.

Kilmister had two sons from two relationships: Sean and Paul. He had a particularly close relationship with his son Paul Inder, who also played live with Motörhead as a guest musician at the band's 25th anniversary on October 22, 2000. However, Kilmister was never married, he explains in his autobiography White Line Fever that the great love of his life was his girlfriend Susann Bennett, who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 19 . As a consequence, he was strictly against heroin throughout his life and was an outspoken critic of governments' failure to control the drug effectively. Kilmister himself consumed LSD in the late 1960s and early 1970s and amphetamines in particular in the late 1970s and 1980s . For health reasons, he finally stopped using these drugs in the 1990s, but continued to drink large amounts of alcohol.

In March 2010 the rockumentary film " Lemmy " by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski was shown to the public for the first time at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas , in which numerous interviews with friends, colleagues and admirers as well as documentary recordings of Lemmy's life provide a detailed look Insight into his musician's life .

In 2000 Kilmister was diagnosed with diabetes and in March 2013 he was given an implantable defibrillator in Los Angeles due to heart problems . Because of his ongoing health problems, many concerts had to be canceled in 2013 and a performance at the Wacken Open Air Festival had to be canceled. The promotion tour of the new album Aftershock was also postponed and finally canceled entirely. According to his own statement, Lemmy had also stopped smoking, which he put into perspective a little later: he had reduced his cigarette consumption from two packets to two cigarettes per day. In 2015, several concerts in Salt Lake City were also canceled.

Shortly after his 70th birthday, Kilmister was diagnosed with tumors in the head and neck area. He eventually died on December 28, 2015 in his Los Angeles apartment. According to the death certificate, he died of prostate cancer , heart failure (heart failure) and cardiac arrhythmias. The death certificate does not reveal whether the head neck tumors were prostate cancer settlements or independent tumors.

Kilmister was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood .

Career as a musician

Lemmy with electric bass and the neck decoration " Iron Cross II. Class " (Reds, Edmonton, May 2005)

In 1957 Kilmister picked up a guitar for the first time, it was his mother's Hawaiian guitar , because he wanted to impress the girls at his school with it. He never had guitar lessons, but taught himself to play. The first band he played in Wales was called The Sundowners (later The DeeJays ).

When he came to Manchester in the early 1960s , a lively music scene was emerging there and in Liverpool , which was called the Mersey Beat after the River Mersey , which flows through Greater Manchester and Liverpool . Kilmister played in various bands, including The Rainmakers and then for about three years with The Motown Sect. In 1965 he finally became guitarist for Reverend Black and The Rockin 'Vicars (later The Rockin' Vickers). With them he recorded the singles Zing from 1965 to 1967 ! Went the Strings of My Heart (1965), It's Alright (1965) and Dandy (1966). He left the band in early 1967 and went to London.

There he initially had jobs with various musicians, e. B. with P. P. Arnold until he started singing with Sam Gopal in 1968 . With the band he recorded the album Escalator in 1969 , for which he contributed some songs under the name "Ian Willis" (the last name of his stepfather). After the band's failure, he was a member of Opal Butterfly for a short time, with whom he recorded the single Groupie Girl in 1970 , but left the band before the single and the accompanying film were released.

He got in touch with this London band in 1971 through Dikmik Davies, who was then playing synthesizers with Hawkwind . Guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton and bassist Dave Anderson had left the band within a short time, and Kilmister was hoping to join the band as a guitarist. However, at the suggestion of Dikmik Davies, he eventually became the band's new bass player. He sang the single Silver Machine for her , which reached number 2 on the charts. The band split from him in 1975 after he was arrested by Canadian Customs for drug possession .

Shortly thereafter, Kilmister formed a new band he wanted to call Bastard. On the advice of his manager, however, he named the band Motörhead , based on the last song he wrote for Hawkwind. Until Kilmister's death, the band was active with him as the musical head.

In addition to Motörhead, he also played in the rockabilly band The Head Cat, founded in 2000 .

Kilmister has also worked as a writer and producer for other musicians. Among other things, he wrote the lyrics for four songs on Ozzy Osbourne's album No More Tears , composed Head Over Heels for Girlschool , Can't Catch Me for Lita Ford and produced the song Go Home Ann from the Ramones single Bonzo Goes to Bitburg as well as the album Metal Anarchy by the band Warfare .


  • Kilmister had two large fibroids on the left side of his face, sometimes wrongly referred to as warts .
  • Kilmister always positioned his microphone a little too high so that he had to raise his head during the vocal passages. This was a trademark of his stage presence, according to his statements it served the convenience and should be a relic from the early days when the band had only a few spectators and he “didn't have to see the misery in the audience”.
  • His rough, untrained voice was thought to be a result of his massive cigarette and alcohol consumption , especially his preference for " Jack and Coke " (mixed drink made from Jack Daniel’s and Coca-Cola on ice).
  • He was regarded as a collector of Nazi - Memorabilia and could not enter his apartment without Nazi objects counter fell to it by his own admission. Because of this passion for collecting he was often criticized, but emphasized that he was by no means a supporter of this ideology. His collection included B. Ashtrays by Eva Braun and hunting knives by Hermann Göring .
  • He strictly rejected religion or belief in deities and expressed this in some of his texts (including (Don't Need) Religion , Bad Religion or God Was Never on Your Side , Get Back in Line ). When asked about it, he replied:

“A virgin is impregnated by a ghost? Come on! Piss off! "

Bass technique and equipment

Lemmy (2015)

Lemmy Kilmister had an unusual style as a bassist. He originally started out as a guitarist, but in his own judgment he wasn't good enough and switched to bass guitar when he joined Hawkwind . In doing so, however, he kept the technique that rhythm guitarists usually use.

He preferred to play instruments made by Rickenbacker , which he himself called Rickenbastard , and used amplifiers made by Marshall . He achieved the typical bass sound by setting all the controls on the bass guitar to the highest level. On the amplifier itself, he turned the highs and lows softly and the mids to full volume. In 2008 Marshall released an amplifier called the 1992LEM , a replica of Kilmister's 1992 Super Bass Unit .


The following legend is related to the origin of the nickname “Lemmy”: He enjoyed spending his free time on tours at various slot machines , which caused him to suffer from a chronic shortage of money and many of his colleagues with the words “Can you lem'me five?” Or “Lemme a fiver ”('Can you lend me a fiver?') for some money. In his autobiography, however, Kilmister explains that he was nicknamed "Lemmy" when he was ten in Welsh elementary school.

Kilmister is said to have taught the unmusical Sex Pistols member Sid Vicious to play the bass. According to his own statements, Kilmister tried to give him bass lessons, which he gave up after three days: "Sid was a hopeless case."

Kilmister had a few small film roles, for example in Airheads , MARK 13 - Hardware as a Taxi Driver and a larger role in Eat the Rich . In the video clip Runnin 'Wild the band Airbourne , he also played a truck driver . He played a limo driver in the Foo Fighters' White Limo video clip . In the video I Wanna Be a Cowboy by the band Boys Don't Cry , Lemmy has a cameo as a cowboy. In Danko Jones - Full of Regret he can be seen as a passenger in a limousine.

Kilmister was on stage as the playback guitarist for Kirsty MacColl in her pop song Terry a . a. in the music store on January 26, 1984.

In the video game Brütal Legend he was the guest role of the "Killmaster". He is also a playable character in the music game Guitar Hero: Metallica .

In 2006, the Swedish paleontologist Mats E. Eriksson named an extinct worm Kalloprion kilmisteri , based on Lemmy.

After his death, more than 150,000 people signed an online petition with the aim of naming the artificially produced and at the time officially nameless chemical element Moscovium after him. Lemmium was suggested as the name .

Nintendo's in-house video game character Lemmy Koopa is one of seven alleged descendants of the villain Bowser . After Kilmister's death, Dayvv Brooks, the product manager in charge at the time, confirmed that the character's name was based on Lemmy, as he was the kind of character "who does his own thing, no matter what the others think."

On November 14, 2016, an asteroid was named after him: (243002) Lemmy .

In 2017, a six-meter-long marine crocodile that became extinct about 165 million years ago was named after him. The crocodile is named Lemmysuchus .


Own projects

With The Rockin 'Vickers:

  • 1964: I Go Ape (7 ″)
  • 1965: Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart (7 ″)
  • 1965: It's Alright (7 ″)
  • 1966: Dandy (7 ″)
  • 2000: The Complete - It's Alright

With Sam Gopal :

  • 1969: Escalator (EP Promo)
  • 1969: Escalator

With Opal Butterfly:

  • 1970: Groupie Girl (7 ″)

With Hawkwind :

  • 1972: Silver Machine (7 ″)
  • 1972: Doremi Fasol Latido
  • 1973: Lord of Light (7 ″)
  • 1973: Urban Guerilla (7 ″)
  • 1973: Space Ritual
  • 1974: Hall of the Mountain Grill
  • 1974: Psychedelic Warlords (7 ″)
  • 1975: Kings of Speed (7 ″)
  • 1975: Warrior on the Edge of Time
  • 1977: Masters of the Universe (Compilation)
  • 1985: Space Ritual Vol. 2 (Compilation live)
  • 1985: In the Beginning (live)
  • 1986: Approved History of Hawkwind 1967–1982
  • 1999: Epoch Eclipse: 30 Year Anthology (Compilation Box)

With Motörhead:

With The Head Cat :

  • 2000: Lemmy, Slim Jim & Danny B.
  • 2006: Fool's Paradise
  • 2007: Rockin 'the Cat Club: Live from the Sunset Strip
  • 2011: Walk the Walk… Talk the Talk


  • 2006: LEMMY Damage Case (two CDs with 31 songs from Rockin 'Vicars to Motörhead)

Solo releases or projects:

  • 1981: Headgirl (Motörhead & Girlschool ) - The St. Valentine's Day Massacre
  • 1982: Lemmy & Wendy O. Williams - Stand By Your Man
  • 1990: Lemmy & The Upsetters - Blue Suede Shoes
  • 2000: Lemmy - Slim Jim & Danny B - Lemmy - Slim Jim & Danny B

Exclusive sampler contributions:

  • 1986: On the Road (Live) on Hear 'n Aid (An All-Star Album for Famine Relief)
  • 1990: Blue Suede Shoes on The Last Temptation of Elvis
  • 1996: Straight Edge as Fuck, Vol. 1-2
  • 1997: Tie Your Mother Down on Dragon Attack: A Tribute to Queen
  • 1998: It's a Long Way to the Top on Thunderbolt: A Tribute to AC / DC
  • 1999: A Piece of Pipe on Hardware (Soundtrack)
  • 2000: Desire on Bat Head Soup - Tribute to Ozzy Osbourne
  • 2001: Nothing Else Matters on Metallic Assault - A Tribute to Metallica
  • 2001: Shoot 'Em Down on Twisted Forever - A Tribute to the Legendary Twisted Sister (re-released on Ash Wednesday in 2003 )
  • 2002: Guitar Greats
  • 2002: Metal Brigade
  • 2002: Thirsty & Miserable on Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three
  • 2004: Whiplash on Metallic Attack: Metallica - The Ultimate Tribute
  • 2006: Back in the USSR on Butchering the Beatles - A Headbashing Tribute
  • 2008: Run Rudolph Run on We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year

Guest appearances

Lemmy in 2005 performing with the DKT / MC5
  • 1974: Robert Calvert - Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
  • 1979: The Damned - I Just Can't Be Happy Today
  • 1979: The Damned - Machine Gun Etiquette
  • 1980: The Young & Moody Band - Don't Do That
  • 1984: Robert Calvert - Freq
  • 1986: Doctor & the Medics - "Waterloo" (role in music video)
  • 1988: Albert Jarvinen Band - Countdown
  • 1989: Nina Hagen - Nina Hagen
  • 1993: The Damned - Tales from the Damned
  • 1994: Fast Eddie Clarke - It Ain't Over Till It's Over
  • 1994: Shonen Knife - Tomato Head (promo single)
  • 1994: Shonen Knife - Rock Animals
  • 1996: Skew Siskin - Electric Chair Music
  • 1996: Ugly Kid Joe - Motel California
  • 1996: Myth Dreams of World - Stories of the Greek & Roman Gods & Goddesses
  • 1996: Skew Siskin - Voices from the War
  • 1997: Ramones - We're Outta Here!
  • 1999: Jetboy - Lost & Found
  • 1999: Skew Siskin - What the Hell
  • 1999: ANIMAL - Usa Toda Tu Fuerza
  • 2000: Swing Cats - A Special Tribute to Elvis
  • 2000: Doro - Calling the Wild
  • 2001: The Pirates - Rock Bottom
  • 2001: Hair of the Dog - Ignite
  • 2002: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra " Mike Batt and Guests" - Philharmania
  • 2003: Ace Sounds - Still Hungry
  • 2003: Skew Siskin - Album of the Year
  • 2004: Probot - Probot (Shake Your Blood)
  • 2005: Böhse Onkelz - Vaya con Tioz
  • 2006: Metallica - Damage Case (at the Novarock Festival)
  • 2006: Probot - Shake Your Blood (in Hyde Park)
  • 2008: Saxon - I've Got to Rock (To Stay Alive) - (Video)
  • 2008: Airbourne - Runnin 'Wild
  • 2009: Nashville Pussy - From Hell to Texas
  • 2010: Slash - Slash and Friends
  • 2010: Danko Jones - Full of Regret (role in music video)
  • 2011: Foo Fighters - White Limo (role in music video)
  • 2014: Emigrate - Rock City



  • 1982: Live in Toronto - Castle Hendering
  • 1984: Another Perfect Day EP
  • 1985: Birthday Party
  • 1986: Deaf Not Blind
  • 1987: Eat the Rich
  • 1988: EP
  • 1991: Everything Louder than Everything Else
  • 1991: Live in Alabama


  • 2001: 25 & Alive Boneshaker
  • 2002: Motörhead EP
  • 2002: The Best of Motörhead
  • 2003: The Special Edition EP
  • 2004: Everything Louder Than Everything Else
  • 2005: Stage Fright
  • 2010: Lemmy (DE: Gold in the music video award)


  • 1987: Eat the Rich
  • 1990: MARK 13 - Hardware (Hardware)
  • 1994: Airheads
  • 1994: John Wayne Bobbit Uncut (Video)
  • 1996: Tromeo & Julia (Tromeo and Juliet)
  • 1999: Frezno Smooth
  • 1999: Terror Firmer
  • 2000: The Toxic Avenger Part IV (Citizen Toxie)
  • 2001: Down and Out with the Dolls
  • 2005: The Curse of El Charro
  • 2005: Charlie's Death Wish (video)
  • 2010: Full of Regret (short film)
  • 2012: The Ballad of Danko Jones (short film)
  • 2013: Return to Nuke 'Em High Volume 1
  • 2015: Gutterdämmerung
  • 2018: Sunset Society (Director: Phoebe Dollar )


Dubbing voice

  • 2006: Scarface: The World Is Yours (Video Game)
  • 2009: Brütal Legend (Video Game)


  • Lemmy Kilmister with Harry Shaw: Lemmy, In His Own Words . Omnibus, London 2002, ISBN 978-0-7119-9109-5 (English).
  • Lemmy Kilmister with Harry Shaw, German translation by Thorsten Wortmann: LEMMY - TALKING . Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-89602-901-0 .
  • Lemmy Kilmister with Janiss Garza: White Line Fever - The Autobiography . IP Verlag Jeske / Mader, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-931624-25-0 .
  • Marvin Chlada , Jerk Götterwind (Ed.): Lemmy. A homage . Trikont Duisburg publisher and Dialog-Edition publisher, Duisburg / Istanbul 2017, ISBN 978-3-945634-19-6 .

Web links

Commons : Lemmy Kilmister  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister is dead. ( Memento of the original from December 29, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: SWR3 . December 29, 2015, accessed December 29, 2015. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.swr3.de
  2. Legends on the stage . In: Nordbayerischer Kurier from 18./19. June 2016, p. 55.
  3. Joel McIver: Lemmy Kilmister obituary . In: The Guardian . December 29, 2015, accessed December 29, 2015.
  4. MOTÖRHEAD Manager On LEMMY's Health: 'He Has Great Days And Then He F ** ks It Up' . In: blabbermouth.net . 17th January 2014.
  5. Rock bassist Lemmy goes on tour with a defibrillator. ( Memento of the original from June 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: gmx.net . June 22, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.gmx.net
  6. Sebastian Kessler: Motörhead tour canceled . In: Metal Hammer . January 24, 2014.
  7. blabbermouth.net
  8. blabbermouth.net
  9. Martin Tege: Motörhead: Lemmy's health is still critical - further concert cancellations. In: rollingstone.de. 3rd September 2015.
  10. Alex Young: RIP: Lemmy Kilmister - Motörhead Frontman Dead At 70. In: consequenceofsound.net. December 29, 2015, accessed December 29, 2015.
  11. Mötorhead's Lemmy died of prostate cancer, says death certificate. In: The Guardian . January 20, 2016, accessed February 11, 2018 .
  12. The grave of Lemmy Kilmister. In: knerger.de. Klaus Nerger, accessed on May 8, 2019 .
  13. ^ A b Carol Clerk: The Saga of Hawkwind . Omnibus Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-84449-101-8 , pp. 79-80. (English)
  14. The Rockin 'Vickers . allmusic.com
  15. ^ Richie Unterberger: AllMusic Review. allmusic.com; accessed January 27, 2009.
  16. Artist Biography by Ralph Heibutzki. allmusic.com; accessed January 27, 2009.
  17. Carol Clerk: The Saga of Hawkwind . Omnibus Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-84449-101-8 , p. 77.
  18. a b Died: Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, 70 . In: Der Spiegel . No. 1 , 2016, p. 125 ( online ).
  19. Frank Thiessies: Age makes you beautiful. For example Lemmy Kilmister. welt.de, December 25, 2010, accessed on May 22, 2012 .
  20. Tobias Rapp : On the death of Lemmy Kilmister: He was a Motörhead and he played rock'n'roll. In: Spiegel Online . December 29, 2015, accessed February 11, 2018 .
  21. message. ( Memento of the original from January 29, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Metal Hammer online July 10, 2008; accessed January 24, 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.metal-hammer.de
  22. a b c d Moritz von Uslar : 100 questions to Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 29, 2015.
  23. Remorse is pointless . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , December 29, 2015.
  24. - ( Memento of the original from November 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . In: BassPlayer.com , accessed January 25, 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bassplayer.com
  25. Product information ( Memento of the original dated January 31, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on marshallamps.com , accessed January 28, 2009. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.marshallamps.com
  26. [1]
  27. ^ Motorhead's Lemmy rocked the Welsh assembly
  28. ^ Götz Kühnemund: Motörhead . The real essence of rock and roll. Ed .: Holger Stratmann. Rock Hard , December 2009, ISSN  1437-8140 , p. 81 .
  29. ^ Beatclub Backstage . In: musikausstudiobremen.de . December 28, 2015.
  30. Kirsty MacColl - Terry 1984 . In: YouTube .
  31. Mike Hohnen: Scientist Names Newly Discovered Species After King Diamond. In: Music Feeds. September 18, 2012, accessed January 1, 2016 .
  32. ^ John Wright: Support Lemmy tribute, help make 'Lemmium' the new chemical name for Heavy Metal in the Periodic Table . In: change.org . Online petition on Lemmium.
  33. Patrick Klepek: How A Mario Character Was Named After Motorhead's Lemmy. In: kotaku.com. December 29, 2015, accessed January 8, 2016 .
  34. Sebastian Herrmann: "Lemmysuchus", the primeval crocodile. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung . August 9, 2017. Retrieved February 11, 2018 .
  35. Gold / platinum database of the Federal Association of the Music Industry , accessed on May 28, 2016.
  36. Sunset Society: Lemmy, Tracii Guns and Dizzy Reed as actors in the vampire horror film by Simon Bauer on www.rockhard.de, June 14, 2018