Lemmy Kilmister, an unmistakable artist

Omaggio a Lemmy Kilmister di Zoa StudioToday, December 24th, would have been the 75th birthday of Lemmy Kilmister, founder and leader of Motörhead.

His life was really so intense and rich that it would be difficult to tell everything and do justice to the incredible, but above all unforgettable, Lemmy.

And so we celebrate this life with curious anecdotes that will make you smile. And we hope they will make him smile too under his unmistakable “Prussian mustache”!

Short biography of Lemmy Kilmister

Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on December 24, 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent, a town in central England.

His father (a Royal Air Force chaplain) left the family when Lemmy was only three months old. Lemmy later also lived in Staffordshire and North Wales.

Lemmy (later we tell you the origin of the name) was influenced by rock and roll and early Beatles work, which led him to play in various rock bands in the 1960s; including the Rockin ‘Vicars. Legend has it that Lemmy, after seeing Cliff Richards surrounded by delirious girls on the TV pop show Oh Boys !, became convinced that rock and roll life was his way.

He then worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix (we’ll also tell you about this in detail later!) and The Nice, before joining the space-rock band Hawkwind in 1971, singing as lead vocals on their hit Silver Machine. After being fired from Hawkwind for drug possession in 1975, Lemmy founded Motörhead in the same year as a singer, bassist, songwriter and frontman.

Motörhead’s success reached its peak in 1980 and in 1981 the band’s most successful single, Ace of Spades and the highest rated live album No Sleep ’til Hammersmith were released.

Lemmy continued to record and tour regularly with Motörhead until his death in December 2015 in Los Angeles, where he had lived since 1990. His funeral was broadcast online for his fans to follow.

Why the name Lemmy?

As we told a few lines ago we know at the registry office today’s protagonist is Ian Fraser Kilmister.

And it seems that everyone in his country knew another basic thing about Lemmy: his unbridled passion for slot machines. Even fans know that Lemmy was an avid table and slot game player, he even referred to his love of gambling in the hit Ace of Spades.

So as a kid, in order to play more slot machines, he always asked his friends “Can you lend me a quid?” Which is pronounced lemmy.

And that’s how his legendary name in the world of rock and roll was born!” According to other sources, the name Lemmy is just a slang form for a “goat”.

The first theory however seems more interesting. Anyway in Italy these cool things don’t happen, or at least they aren’t as cool as the birth of the name Lemmy.

Think of Tommaso Zanello, known as “Er Piotta”, for his round eyeglasses like the then one hundred lire coins, called piotte in the Roman dialect. You see, it’s not the same!

Lemmy roadie for Jimi Hendrix

Surely one of Lemmy Kilmister’s most curious facts is that he made the roadie for Jimi Hendrix!

This happened after he moved to London in 1967, where he befriended Hendrix bassist Noel Redding. He was a roadie for the group for eight months.

When asked if he had learned anything from Hendrix, Lemmy replied perfectly “Yes, I learned to give up the guitar and play bass instead.” What else could he have said?

Note that even though he was part of several bands and worked with the likes of the aforementioned Jimi Hendrix, Lemmy wasn’t particularly famous on his own.

He founded Motörhead when he was 30 and gained popularity around the age of 35. I would say this can motivate us not to give up, he certainly did not! Not even when he was hunted by the Hawkwind. Few people know that before forming Motörhead, Lemmy played in an extraordinary space-rock band, Hawkwind.

The band split in the wake of Kilmister’s arrest for drug possession in 1975. The charges were dropped, but Lemmy was unable to get his band back. He himself believed that the accident was just a pretext to throw him out. Getting kicked out was probably unfair, but if it hadn’t happened we might never have heard of Motörhead.

Lemmy Kilmister writer for Ozzy

After arriving in America with almost nothing in his bank account, Lemmy managed to get help from Ozzy Osborne. They have since become close friends.

Since Lemmy really wasn’t “traveling in good water”, financially speaking, Ozzy’s wife Sharon offered him to write a couple of songs for her husband.

Lemmy wrote six songs for Ozzy No More Tears‘ sixth studio album and 4 of them even make it to the album, released in 1991. In an interview following the release, Lemmy Kilmister stated that Osbourne’s money was more than he ever made with Motorhead. Especially those resulting from that song masterpiece “Mama I’m Coming Home“.

Lemmy the collector

The inimitable Lemmy owned a large collection of Nazi accessories, as did his compatriot David Bowie.

Speaking of collections, do you remember the one on Aleister Crowley by Jimmy Page?

We told you about it a few weeks ago. Back to Lemmy, after appearing in a promotional photo wearing a Nazi cap for the “Wacken Rocks Seaside” concert on July 5 in Aurich, Germany, the rocker was investigated for “unconstitutional propaganda”, which is illegal under the Article 86 of the German Criminal Code.

Furthermore, Article 86a prohibits all “unconstitutional” symbols, including all Nazi insignia, flags, slogans and salutes. In an interview with New York Waste, Lemmy defended himself, saying, “I don’t just collect Nazi stuff, I collect items from all Axis countries. Even from countries that aren’t even mentioned as former part of the axis anymore. Like Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary … From the history of time, the bad guys have always had the best uniforms. Napoleon, the Confederates, the Nazis. They all had murderous uniforms. I mean, the SS uniform is fucking great. They were the rock stars of that time. What can you do about them? They’re just fine. Don’t tell me I’m a Nazi because I collect uniforms. In 1967 I had my first black girlfriend and many more since then. I just don’t understand racism, I never thought it was an option. “

Another curiosity in the curiosity about women and “collections”. Lemmy claimed to have had more than 1200, and to have conquered them all with sympathy and dialogue.

The petition to rename Jack Cola to Lemmy

Upon Lemmy’s death on December 28, 2015, a petition was born via Change.org to change the name of the famous Jack Daniels and Coke to that of today’s protagonist, as an avid consumer of the drink.

The petition quotes : A Jack Daniels and a Coke will forever be associated with Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, the iconic founder of Motorhead. To celebrate and remember one of the true legends of Rock and Roll, I ask everyone from now on to refer to the combination of Jack Daniels Whiskey and Coca-Cola as “Lemmy”. Let it be so.

Over 45,000 people have signed this petition. Too bad it is now closed, but the resonance of the same has been so strong that many more of the “signatories” are now aware of this fact. Jack Cola must be called Lemmy … let it be so!


In conclusion

As we announced in the title, Lemmy was an unmistakable artist.

Aside from his musical pursuits, Lemmy was well known for his tough lifestyle, smoking habit, and regular consumption of alcohol (we just saw this in the latest anecdote) and amphetamines.

He was also unmistakable for his appearance and his characteristic hoarse voice, one of the most recognizable in rock. The style on stage was equally recognizable, both for his usual attire (sunglasses, cowboy hat, boots, long hair, Prussian and German medals and symbols), and for his way of performing always with his head extended towards the ‘high to reach the microphone: he rarely looked at the audience or the bass he played with.

And again Lemmy was known for his unmistakable style of playing the bass, his Rickenbacker, with which he created a “distorted and powerful rhythmic rumble”. So, Lemmy, following your left forearm tattoo, “born to lose, live to win”, you not only kept your word, living to win, but you also succeeded in the difficult task of never being forgotten.

Take a look to believe!



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