I was planning on posting my next batch of album reviews, when I received some sad news that Lemmy Kilmister, lead singer and bassist for the rock band Motorhead, had passed away at age 70. While most music fans may have heard the name "Lemmy" in discussions about heavy metal or mentioned in music documentaries, but who was he and why was he so important to music.
Lemmy was born on Christmas Eve in England in 1945 and always had a knack for conquering the impossible. His first introduction into rock music was as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience in 1967 during the height of the band's popularity in Europe. He joined the space-rock band Hawkwind in 1972, before being fired three years later for his erratic behavior within the band. This would set the stage for the birth of one of the most important bands in the history of heavy metal...Motorhead.
Formed in 1975, Motorhead lasted forty years, without ever having a "hit single" or a platinum selling album and the one remaining original member that entire time was Lemmy. His love for gambling was immortalized in the song "Ace Of Spades," his live for women in "Love Me Like A Reptile" and his love for World War II memorabilia in "Bomber." He would begin every show with, "we are Motorhead and we play rock and roll," having never considered himself a heavy metal musician. Inspired by Little Richard and The Beatles, Lemmy just wanted to play louder than any other band in history. His bass would be tuned differently than a normal deep bass guitar and he played it more like a rhythm guitar, which made his sound on the instrument very distinctive. He is considered my many in the hard rock/heavy metal genre to be one of the godfathers of rock music as his name is synonymous with heavy metal music.
I was fortunate enough to see Motorhead twice, once during the 2012 Gigantour with Megadeth and more recently this past September with Anthrax. Watching him take the stage was like a general rising from a war. He would slowly take his position in front of his mic stand, but once the music started, Lemmy was a strong as ever, belting out the lyrics to "Stay Clean" and "Metropolis." Along with his longtime band members, Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mikkey Dee (drums), every Motorhead show would solidify Lemmy's legacy. He will forever live within the hearts, minds and ringing ears of fans everywhere. So remember, when you listen to Motorhead, play it LOUD!