Lemmy Biography

(Founder of the Rock Band 'Motörhead')

Birthday: December 24, 1945 (Capricorn)

Born In: Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, United Kingdom

Ian Fraser Kilmister, better known by his nickname Lemmy, was an English musician, who cofounded the rock band Motörhead and steered it for the next forty years. Born in England to a chaplain-cum-concert-pianist father, he was mostly raised in Wales by his mother and stepfather. He learned to play guitar just to impress the girls in school. But, he soon developed a passion for rock and roll, deriving inspiration from renowned musicians the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Conway Twitty etc. By early 1960s, he started playing with the local bands before joining Hawkwind and remained with them for three years. Eventually, he formed his own band and served as its chief vocalist, songwriter and bassist. He quickly gathering a huge following and sold more than 15 million albums worldwide till 2016. When he died in 2015, his memorial service was not only attended by a large number of his admirers, but its live streaming on You Tube was watched by 230,000 people. Such was his popularity.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Ian Fraser Kilmister

Died At Age: 70


father: George Willis

children: Paul Inder, Sean Kilmister

Born Country: England

Bassists Rock Singers

Height: 5'10" (178 cm), 5'10" Males

Died on: December 28, 2015

place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States

Cause of Death: Prostate Cancer.

Childhood & Early Life

Lemmy was born as Ian Fraser Kilmister on 24 December 1945 in the Burslem area of Stoke-on-Trent, England. His father, Sydney Davy Albert Kilmister, was a chaplain at the Royal Air Force before he became a concert pianist. His mother’s name was Jessie Milda née Simpson.

When Ian was barely three months old, his father abandoned the family, leaving Ian to be raised by his mother. Eventually, the mother and son moved to Newcastle-under-Lyme, where they lived with Jessie’s mother, Elizabeth Emma Boulton, before shifting to Madeley.

When he was ten years old, his mother married professional soccer player, George L. Wills. Although he already had two children, Patricia and Tony Wills, both elder to Ian, he never learned to love them, preferring to lead a solitary childhood.

Ian began his education at Madeley High School. But sometime in late 1950s, when the family moved to a farm in the Welsh village of Benllech, he was enrolled at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, a community school located in the Pentrefelin area of Amlwch, Anglesey.

It was while studying at Ysgol Syr, that he first developed an interested in horses, girls and rock and roll. It was also during this time that he first earned his nickname, Lemmy, supposedly for his habit of borrowing money to play the slot machine, saying "lemmy (lend me) a quid 'til Friday"

By 1958, Lemmy noticed that those who had guitars were always surrounded by girls. Although he did not know how to play the instrument, he soon began to take his mother’s guitar to school. It had its desired effect and soon he found himself surrounded by girls.

To impress the girls, he next began to learn the chords; slowly developing an interest in rock and roll.  But at fourteen, he was expelled from school for smacking up the headmaster, who had canned him on his already wounded hand.

At sixteen, he went to his first music conference, watching Beatles play at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, being impressed by their onstage attitude. Eventually he moved with his family to Conway, where he started taking up several odd jobs, concurrently playing guitar with local bands such as the Sundowners.

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By early 1960s, Lemmy had moved to Stockport, where he continued to play with local bands like Rainmakers and Motown Sect. However, his career did not take off until he joined the English rock and roll band, The Rockin' Vickers, as a guitarist in 1965.

He remained with The Rockin' Vickers possibly till 1967, touring Europe with them and released three singles together. Later in the same year, he moved to London, where he took up the job of a roadie with the Jimi Hendrix Experience, still calling himself Ian Kilmister.

In 1968, he left Jimi Hendrix to join the Sam Gopal, an underground British psychedelic rock band, as the vocalist-guitarist, this time calling himself Ian Smith, releasing their only album, Escalator, in January 1969.  Later, in the same year, he joined Opal Butterfly, but the group disbanded in the following year.

In August 1971, he accidentally met Dick Taylor and through him joined the space rock band, Hawkwind, as a bassist and vocalist. Although he did not have any experience as a bass guitarist, he quickly developed a style of his own, often using double stops and chords.

He remained with the Hawkwind until 1975, recording several live and studio albums with them. Concurrently, he also lent his voice to several songs, including Silver Machine, the band's biggest UK chart single, which reached #3 in 1972.

Soon his bass work became a distinctive part of the band’s sound. By 1974, he was also writing songs, penning down hit numbers like Lost Johnny and Motörhead.

Forming Motorhead

In May 1975, Lemmy went on a tour of North America with the Hawkwind. While crossing into Canada from the USA, he was arrested on charges of possessing drugs. Although he was released the next morning the band members became concerned. Also tired of his erotic behavior, they decided to dismiss him.

On returning to London, he teamed up with Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox to form his own band, Motörhead, naming it after the last song he wrote for the Hawkwind. While Wallis played the guitar and Fox the drum, Lemmy served as the lead vocalist and also played the bass.

In August 1977, Motörhead released their first album, also named Motörhead,, including the eponymous song, Motörhead, in it. Although a minor chart success, it set the group’s style. AllMusic wrote in their review, "Lemmy's rasping vocal over a speeding juggernaut of guitar, bass, and drums...no wonder the punks liked them."

Motörhead remained active until Lemmy's death in 2015, releasing a total of 22 studio albums over a period of forty years.  Usually a power trio, their popularity peaked in early 1980s, with several singles entering the UK Top Forty chart. Apart from serving as the chief vocalist, Lemmy was also their chief songwriter.

They also made several international tours, in course of which they recorded ten live records, the first of which was released in June 1981. On 11 December 2015, during the band's European 40th Anniversary Tour in Berlin, he gave his final live performance, passing away shortly after that.

Major Works

Lemmy is probably best remembered for his single, Ace of Spades, which he co-wrote with Edie Clark and Phil Taylor.  Released in October 1980 on behalf of his band, Motorhead, the song remained a crowd favorite throughout the band's career and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry.

Among the albums, the best known is their debut live album, No Sleep 'til Hammersmith. Released on 22 June 1981, it peaked at number 1 on the UK album charts. One of its tracks, a live version of his single, Motörhead, charted at number six.

Personal Life & Legacy

Lemmy was a heavy drinker and a regular drug user, speed being his personal choice.  He also led a very promiscuous life; he had multiple partners, slept with more than thousand women and fathered at least two sons.

His first son, Sean, whom he fathered at the age of seventeen, was put up for adoption and remained out of touch. However, his second son, Paul Inder, also born out of wedlock, later became a guitarist and occasionally joined him onstage.

In 1990, he moved to Los Angeles, where he lived until his death from prostate cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, and congestive heart failure on December 28, 2015. His mortal remains were cremated and ashes were interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills.

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