Ian Fraser Kilmister, known by his stage name, ‘Lemmy’, was born in Stoke-On-Trent in 1945. He was the founder, lead songwriter, lead singer and bassist of the band Motörhead, who were at the forefront of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal’. Well known for his distinctive raspy vocals, that became one of the most recognisable voices in rock, and his pulverising bass playing, he was widely regarded as a leading influence in heavy metal. His influence stretches beyond his musical output, as he is also often remembered for his larger-than-life personality, military-influenced style, and iconic mutton chops.
While growing up, Lemmy was inspired by artists like The Beatles, Little Richard, and Elvis. Before beginning his own performing career, Lemmy worked as a roadie for artists such as Jimi Hendrix and subsequently joined the group Hawkwind in the early 1970s. His distinctive vocals can be heard on their song ‘Silver Machine’, which reached number 3 in the UK charts. It was around this time that Lemmy started to develop a desire to create music on his own terms. After being arrested for drug possession and later fired from Hawkwind, Lemmy decided to go in his own direction, founding Mötorhead in 1975.
While largely accepted across the heavy metal scene, Lemmy would often stress that Mötorhead’s inception came about due a connection with the outsider attitude of British punk rockers. With Mötorhead, Lemmy would go on to record 22 studio albums, across a career spanning 40 years. Mötorhead’s success peaked in the early 1980s, with hits such as “Ace of Spades”, which became one of the genre’s most defining songs. Alongside this, Mötorhead also released their iconic album “No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith” in 1981, which reached number 1 in the UK album charts.
Lemmy continued to record and tour regularly with Motörhead until his death on 28 December 2015 in Los Angeles aged 70, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer just a few days earlier.