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Ian Fraser Kilmister (born on 24 December 1945 in Burslemmarker, Stoke on Trentmarker, Englandmarker), better known by the stage name Lemmy, is an English singer and bass guitarist. He is best known as the founding member of the rock band Motörhead. His appearance, facial moles, mutton chops (sideburn-moustache combination), and gravelly voice have made him an instantly recognisable cult figure .

Childhood and early life

Lemmy was born on Christmas Eve in 1945 in Burslemmarker, Stoke on Trentmarker, Englandmarker. When Lemmy was three months old, his father, an ex-Royal Air Force chaplain, separated from his mother. His mother and grandmother settled in Newcastle-under-Lymemarker then moved on to Madeley, Staffordshiremarker.

When Lemmy was 10, his mother married George Willis, who had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom he didn't get along. The family moved to a farm in Benllechmarker, Angleseymarker, North Walesmarker and it was during this time that he started to show an interest in rock and roll music, girls and horses. He attended Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones school in Amlwchmarker, where he was nick-named Lemmy, although he is unsure why, and it would later be claimed that it originated from the phrase "Lemmy a quid till Friday" because of his habit of borrowing money from people to feed his addiction to fruit machines.

He saw The Beatles perform at the Cavern Clubmarker when he was 16, then played guitar along to their first album, learning the chords. He also admired the sarcastic attitude of the group, particularly that of John Lennon. Upon leaving school and with his family relocated in Conwymarker, Lemmy undertook menial jobs including working at the local Hotpoint factory while also playing guitar for local bands, such as The Sundowners, and spending time at a horse riding school. At the age of 17, he met a holidaying girl named Cathy and he followed her to Stockportmarker where she had his son, Sean. Sean was put up for adoption.

Recording and performing career

Early years: 1960s

In Stockport he joined local bands The Rainmakers then The Motown Sect, who enjoyed three years playing northern clubs. Wanting to progress further, in 1965 he joined The Rockin' Vickers who signed a deal with CBS and released three singles and toured Europe, reportedly being the first British band to visit Yugoslavia. With the band living in a Manchester flat, he had a relationship with a girl named Tracy who bore him a son, Paul, although it wouldn't be until the boy was 6 that Lemmy had any involvement with the child.

Wanting to progress even further, Lemmy relocated to Londonmarker in 1967. Sharing a flat with Noel Redding, he got a job as a roadie for The Jimi Hendrix Experience. In 1968 he joined Sam Gopal and recorded the album Escalator and the single "Horse". After meeting Simon King in a Chelsea shopping centre during 1969, he joined the band Opal Butterfly, but the band soon folded, having previously failed to raise enough interest with their preceding CBS singles.

At this point Lemmy thought about changing his legal name to his stepfather's surname of Willis, but with his actual father's surname of Kilmister, he decided changing his birth certificate and passport would be too much hassle, so didn't bother. An attempted reconciliation in 1970 between Lemmy and his birth father broke down, with Lemmy describing him as a "nasty little weasel".

Hawkwind: 1971–1975

See also Hawkwind
In 1971, Lemmy joined the space rock band, Hawkwind, who were based in Ladbroke Grovemarker, Londonmarker. He had little experience as a bass guitarist, but quickly developed a distinctive style that was strongly shaped by his early experience as a rhythm guitarist, often using double stops and chords rather than the single notes preferred by most bassists. His bass work was a fundamental part of the Hawkwind sound during his tenure, perhaps best documented on Space Ritual. He also provided lead vocals on a number of songs, including the band's biggest UK chart single, "Silver Machine", which reached No.3 in 1972.

Motörhead 1975–present

In 1975 Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind after he was arrested at Canadianmarker customs on drug possession charges; he spent five days in jail. He went on to form a new band with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took's Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. Lemmy's connection with Took (formerly of T. Rex) was not limited to Wallis, as they were personal friends and Took was the stepfather to Lemmy's son, Paul. This new band was originally called Bastard. When his manager informed him that a band by that name will never get a slot on "Top of the Pops", Lemmy changed the band's name to Motörhead – the title of the last song Lemmy wrote for Hawkwind.

Lemmy playing bass live.
Soon after, both Wallis and Fox were replaced with guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, and with this line-up the band began to achieve success. The band's sound appealed to both Lemmy's original fans and, eventually, to fans of the punk rock scene. In fact, he asserts that he generally feels more kinship with punks than with heavy metal; he even played with The Damned for a handful of gigs when they had no regular bassist—and Lemmy's guttural vocals were unique in the world of rock at that time. The band's success peaked between 1980 and 1981 with a number of UK chart hits, including the classic single "Ace of Spades" (still a crowd favourite today) and the #1 live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith. Motörhead have since gone on to become one of the most influential bands in the heavy metal music genre, and although Lemmy is the only constant member, are still performing and releasing records to this day. Despite Motörhead's many member changes over their 30-year history, the current lineup of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee has remained constant since 1995.

Lemmy has also worked with a number of other musicians over his career, and occasionally guests with Hawkwind. He wrote the song "R.A.M.O.N.E.S" for the Ramones, which he still plays in his live sets as a tribute to the band. He was brought in as a songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne's 1991 No More Tears album, providing lyrics for the tracks "Hellraiser", (which Motörhead would later record themselves and release a single), "Desire", "I Don't Want to Change the World", and the single "Mama I'm Coming Home". Lemmy has noted in several magazine and television interviews that he made more money from the royalties of that one song than he had in his entire time with Motörhead. After being diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes in 2000, which led to a brief hospitalization, Motörhead appeared at WrestleMania 17. Lemmy published his autobiography, White Line Fever in November 2002. In 2005 Motörhead won their first Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category with their cover of Metallica's "Whiplash". He lives in a two room flat in Los Angeles, two blocks away from his favourite hangout the Rainbow Bar and Grillmarker.

An officially licensed Lemmy figurine has been produced. Available as a "regular" or "special" edition, Lemmy recalls:
I had to stand on this platform while the camera went around and did the hologram thing and then they made the model, only smaller.
They said it's an action figure, and I said, 'So, you're gonna put a dick on it?'
They said, 'No.'
I said, 'Well, then it's not going to get much action then, is it?'
A bad name for it, right?


Lemmy appeared as an unlockable character in the game Guitar Hero: Metallica. He also stars as a character in Brutal Legend named Kill Master, whom he voices.

In October 2009 it was announced that he had been involved in recording a cover of Stand By Me featuring Lemmy on Vocals and Bass, Dave Lombardo of Slayer on Drums and produced by DJ and Producer, Baron. The song was made for legendary Pro Skateboarder Geoff Rowley

Film and television career

Lemmy has made a number of appearances in film and television, including the 1990 science fiction film Hardware and the 1987 comedy Eat the Rich, for which Motörhead also recorded the soundtracks. In the 1980s Motörhead were the musical guests on the cult British TV show "The Young Ones", episode entitled "Bambi". In the 1994 comedy Airheads (in which he is credited as "Lemmy von Motörhead"), one scene involving Brendan Fraser, Adam Sandler, and Steve Buscemi, has Brendan Fraser's character, "Chazz" Chester Darvey talking to an undercover cop who is pretending to be a record executive—Chazz asks him, "Who'd win in a wrestling match, Lemmy or God?", the cop replies, "Lemmy", to which Rex, played by Steve Buscemi, imitates a game show buzzer and the cop quickly changes his answer to "... God!". Rex replies saying, "Wrong, dickhead, trick question. Lemmy is God". Lemmy appears in the film and shouts out (truthfully) that he edited his school newspaper as other people in the crowd admit geeky pastimes in their youth. Lemmy has also appeared in several movies from the Troma studio.

Having a predilection for self-deprecating parody, he once appeared in an advertisement for Kit Kat chocolate bars, miming a piece of chamber music on the violin, in an upper-class tea-room, and he also appeared in an ad for Walkers where he gets his crisps stolen. He also appeared on an intro scene on The Drew Carey Show in which Motörhead play outside Carey's home, startling him awake. Lemmy is one of very few musicians to have been mentioned on Beavis and Butt-Head who was not made fun of. Upon seeing Lemmy making a cameo appearance in the Ramones' "Substitute" video, Butthead exclaims, "He's Lemmy. He can be in any damn video he wants to!". Lemmy made an appearance in the music videos for the 1986 Boys Don't Cry song "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" and the 1998 Rap song "Freak of the Week" by adult film star Ron Jeremy.

Motörhead performed the entrance theme song "The Game" for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)'s Triple H (who at one point wore his mustache and sideburns like Lemmy as a tribute), as well as "Line in the Sand" for Triple H's now defunct wrestling stable, Evolution. In 2006, they once again provided theme music for WWE as they recorded the song "King of Kings" for Triple H on the Wreckless Intent CD.He also provided his voice for the video game Brütal Legend, voicing the Kill Master, a character designed and based on his likeness.

Lemmy also appears in the new Airbourne music video for "Runnin' Wild". He plays a trucker driving wildly while the police chase him down a highway.

Lemmy recently has appeared on Down and Dirty with Jim Norton as the series deejay, and also created the theme music.

Lemmy: The Movie

A documentary/rockumentary on Lemmy has been announced for release in 2010. Entitled simply "Lemmy" and directed/produced by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski, the film is some two years in the making and is being shot on a combination of 16 mm film and HD video. It will feature interviews with friends, peers, and admirers such as Dave Grohl, Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Peter Hook of Joy Division/New Order, Dee Snider, Mick Jones of The Clash, Jim Heath of Reverend Horton Heat, Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats, Mike Inez, pro skateboarder Geoff Rowley, pro wrestler Triple H, C.C. Deville of Poison, Fast Eddie Clarke, Johnny Knoxville, Jarvis Cocker, Marky Ramone, former Hawkwindbandmates Dave Brock and Stacia, and Steve Vai. The film is said to set the record straight on a number of rumours and myths regarding Lemmy's lifestyle. To help promote the movie, Kilmister designed a t-shirt for sale on the film's web site.

Image and celebrity status

Dave Grohl, on his Probot website, summarises musicians he worked with. For Lemmy's entry he wrote:
We recorded his track in Los Angeles in maybe two takes about a year and a half ago.
Until then I'd never met what I'd call a real rock 'n' roll hero before.
Fuck Elvis and Keith Richards, Lemmy's the king of rock 'n' roll - he told me he never considered Motörhead a metal band, he was quite adamant.
Lemmy's a living, breathing, drinking and snorting fucking legend.
No-one else comes close.


'Sex Legend'

In a Channel 4 documentary called "Motörhead: Live Fast, Die Old", broadcast on 22 August 2005, it was claimed that Lemmy had "bedded" in excess of 2,000 women. Maxim magazine has Lemmy at number 8 on its top ten "Living Sex Legends" list, as they claim that he has slept with around 1,200 women.
In the documentary he explained that while in school he noticed a pupil who had brought a guitar to school and had been "surrounded by chicks". His mother had a guitar, which he then took to school, even though he could not play, and was himself surrounded by girls: "In those days just having a guitar was enough... that was it". 
Lemmy at age 60



Drugs

During Lemmy's time with Hawkwind, he developed an appetite for amphetamine and LSD and was to become renowned for his use of amphetamine. Before joining Hawkwind, he recalled Dik Mik, a former Hawkwind sound technician, visiting his squat in the middle of the night and taking speed with him. They became interested in how long "you could make the human body jump about without stopping", which they did for a few months, until Mik ran out of money and wanted to return to Hawkwind, taking Lemmy with him.

In November 2005, he was invited to the Welsh Assembly as a guest speaker by Tory Welsh assembly member William Graham. He was asked to express his views on the detrimental effects of drugs. However he shocked the Assembly Members and Welsh public when he called for the legalisation of heroin: "I have never had heroin but since I moved to London from north Wales in '67 I have mixed with junkies on a casual and almost daily basis," he said. "I also lived with a young woman who tried heroin just to see what it was like. It killed her three years later. I hate the idea even as I say it, but I do believe the only way to treat heroin is to legalise it." He stated that legalisation would eradicate the drug dealer from society.

Collector

Lemmy collects Nazi memorabilia, and has an Iron Cross encrusted on his bass, which has led to accusations of Nazi sympathies. However, he considers himself an anarchist or libertarian, and that he is "anti-communism, fascism, any extreme," saying that "government causes more problems than it solves". According to Keith Emerson's autobiography, two of Lemmy's Hitlerjugend knives were given to Emerson during Lemmy's time spent as a roadie for The Nice. Emerson used these knives many times as keyholders when playing the Hammond Organ during concerts with The Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Equipment

Lemmy in his usual singing stance, with his microphone in its high position.
Lemmy positions his microphone in an uncommonly high position, angled so that he appears to be looking up at the sky rather than at the audience. He said that it was for "personal comfort, that's all. It's also one way of avoiding seeing the audience. In the days when we only had ten people and a dog, it was a way of avoiding seeing that we only had ten people and a dog".

He has used Rickenbacker 4001 and 4003 bass guitars almost exclusively since his Hawkwind days, although some of these instruments were modified with the installation of Gibson Thunderbird pickups in the neck position. Rickenbacker produced a 60-bass run of Lemmy Kilmister signature basses, the 4004LK, which is fitted with three pickups, gold hardware, and elaborate wood carving in the shape of oak leaves. Lemmy currently uses a customised 4004.

He uses hot-rodded Marshall JMP Superbass II amplifiers from the late 1960s/early 1970s. Each amp, with a nominal output of 100 watts, is used with a 4x12 speaker cab and a custom-made 4x15 cab. He uses two such stacks, one on each side of the drum riser. For many years the amps were nicknamed "No Remorse", "Killer" (left side amp) or "Murder One" (right side amp) with appropriate nameplates. "No Remorse" was subsequently replaced by a new amp nicknamed "Marsha" when, as Kilmister said in an October 2004 interview, it "blew up". "Killer" and "Murder One" were believed to have been destroyed in Argentina when all the other equipment was stolen but this was later proven to be untrue. In 2006 Marshall designed new, prototype versions of "Murder One" which were then put into production, whilst the original amplifier was retired. A limited number of these bass heads have been released by Marshall in 2008 as the "1992LEM", a signature series copy of Lemmy's 1992 100 Watt Super Bass Head, "Murder One".

The phrase "everything louder than everyone else" sums up Lemmy's sonic approach, as he plays at the loudest possible levels. He uses the bridge pickup exclusively (giving his bass sound more definition) and turns all the tone and volume knobs on the bass up full. On the amplifiers, he turns off the bass and treble, and the midrange up all the way, with the volume and presence up to the 3:00 position. The result is a biting mid-range sound which is somewhat distorted but not "fuzzed out" or "blurry", a formula well-suited to his use of open-string drones and power chords. In the 1990s after a Motörhead show at Hultsfred, Sweden a radio reporter asked Lemmy "If you were to play here again in ten years, how do you think you would sound?" Lemmy replied "Same, but louder..."

Lemmy has occasionally played electric or acoustic guitar, notably on the acoustic song "Ain't No Nice Guy" from Motörhead's March Ör Die album, the title track on 1996's Overnight Sensation, "Limb from Limb" on Overkill (on which he plays the second lead break), "Boogeyman" on Rock 'n' Roll, and a mouth harp on "Whorehouse Blues" from the Inferno album.

In September 2006, his Rickenbacker bass was featured in the Bang Your Head exhibition at the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker in Cleveland, Ohiomarker.

Discography

For releases with Motörhead see the Motörhead discography


As a member of The Rockin' Vickers
  • 1965 – "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart" / "Stella" (7" single)
  • 1965 – "It's Alright" / "Stay By Me" (7" single)
  • 1966 – "Dandy" / "I Don't Need Your Kind" (7" single)
  • 2000 – The Complete: It's Alright (compilation)


As a member of Sam Gopal


As a member of Hawkwind


As a member of Robert Calvert's band
  • 1974 – "Ejection" / "Catch a Falling Starfighter" (7" single)
  • 1974 – Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
  • 1980 – "Lord of the Hornets" / "The Greenfly and the Rose" (7" single)


Side projects and career spanning
  • 1990 – Lemmy & The Upsetters – Blue Suede Shoes
  • 2000 – Lemmy, Slim Jim & Danny B – Lemmy, Slim Jim & Danny B
  • 2006 – The Head CatFool's Paradise
  • 2006 – The Head CatRockin' the Cat Club: Live from the Sunset Strip
  • 2006 – Lemmy – Damage Case (Compilation)
  • 2007 – Keli Raven & Lemmy Kilmister "Bad Boyz 4 Life" (single).


Band collaborations


Charity collaborations
  • 1984 – Hear'n'Aid


Guest appearances
  • 1988 – Albert Järvinen BandCountdown
  • 1989 – Nina HagenNina Hagen
  • 1992 – BootsauceBull – guests on "Hold Tight"
  • 1994 – Fast Eddie ClarkeIt Ain't Over Till It's Over – guests on "Laugh at the Devil".
  • 1994 – Shonen KnifeRock Animals – guests on "Tomato Head" single remix (Track 3 – "Lemmy In There Mix") – not the album track
  • 1996 – Skew SiskinElectric Chair Music
  • 1996 – Ugly Kid JoeMotel California
  • 1996 – Myth Dreams of WorldStories of the Greek & Roman Gods & Goddesses
  • 1996 – Skew Siskin – Voices from the War
  • 1997 – The RamonesWe're Outta Here! – guests on "R.A.M.O.N.E.S."
  • 1999 – Jetboy – Lost & Found
  • 1999 – Skew Siskin – What the Hell
  • 1999 – A.N.I.M.A.L.Usa Toda Tu Fuerza – guests on a version of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell"
  • 2000 – DoroCalling the Wild
  • 2000 – Swing CatsA Special Tribute to Elvis – guests on "Good Rockin' Tonight", "Trying to Get to You" and "Stuck On You"
  • 2001 – The Pirates – Rock Bottom
  • 2001 – Hair of the Dog – Ignite – guests on "Law"
  • 2002 – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Mike Batt and guests – Philharmania – guests on "Eve of Destruction"
  • 2003 – Ace Sounds – Still Hungry
  • 2003 – Skew Siskin – Album of the Year
  • 2004 – ProbotProbot – guests on "Shake Your Blood"
  • 2005 – Throw Rag13 Ft. and Rising – guests on "Tonight the Bottle let me Down"
  • 2007 – The WarriorsGenuine Sense of Outrage – guests on "Price of Punishment"
  • 2007 – Keli Raven single "Bad Boyz 4 Life" (co-writer & guest vocalist)
  • 2008 – Airbourne – Guest actor on Airbourne's "Runnin' Wild" Music Video
  • 2008 – We Wish You a Metal Christmas – Run Run Rudolph
  • 2008 – LegacyGirlschool album – Don't Talk to Me vocals, bass, triangle and lyrics.
  • 2009 – Brütal Legend (video game) – The Kill Master (voice)


Appearances on film soundtracks, tribute, wrestling and various artists albums


Videography

Video tape/laser disc



DVD



References

  1. Kilmister, Ian Fraser and Garza, Janiss, White Line Fever, Simon & Schuster, 2002 ISBN 0-684-85868-1 p.5
  2. Lemmy: White Line Fever - from, er, Stoke BBC News Stoke and Staffordshire article. Retrieved on 2007-02-11.
  3. BBC North Wales feature on Lemmy
  4. Motorhead Videobiography (Double DVD with 48 page book) Edgehill Publishing Ltd., June 2007 ISBN 978-1-905954-38-4
  5. http://www.inkedmag.com/articles/detail/123/damage-case-lemmy-kilmister/
  6. see the notes for Smash it Up - The Anthology 1976 - 1987
  7. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/kultur/961/308903/text/ Interview with German newspaper SZ 2008-09-05
  8. YouTube - Kit Kat Commercial (July 2001) Peace and Love
  9. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s05jcrJw0as
  10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS55jzbLTcs "Freak of the Week"
  11. HBO: Down + Dirty with Jim Norton Official Website
  12. Lemmy: The Movie Official Website
  13. Sheen Only No. 2 on 'Living Sex Legends' List - The 'Two and a Half Men' star allegedly has 5,000 notches on his rapidly dwindling bedpost - Zap2it


Further reading

  • 1981 Motörhead – Author: Alan Burridge, published by Babylon Books, ISBN 0-86001-935-7
  • 1994 The Illustrated Collector's Guide To Motörhead – Authors: Alan Burridge and Mick Stevenson, published by Collector's Guide Publishing, ISBN 0-9695736-2-6
  • 2002 White Line Fever – Authors: Lemmy and Janiss Garza, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-85868-1
  • 2002 Lemmy: In His Own Words – Author: Harry Shaw, published by Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-9109-X
  • 2002 Motorheadbangers Diary Of The Fans Volume 1 – Author: Alan Burridge, published by e-booksonline(uk)ltd, ISBN 1-903949-14-9


External links




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