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Lemmy dead: Motörhead frontman Ian Fraser Kilmister dies aged 70

The British-born rocker learned of his cancer diagnosis on Boxing Day

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 29 December 2015 04:38 GMT
Lemmy never stopped recording or performing
Lemmy never stopped recording or performing (AP)

For decades, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister was the epitome of a rock and roll front man.

He drank and smoked, he “slept with 1,000 women”, and did everything else that a rocker should do. In the end, it all had a toll.

On Monday, it was reported that the Staffordshire-born founder and lead singer of the British metal band Motörhead had passed away. He was 70.

Agent Andrew Goodfriend told the Associated Press that Kilmister died on Monday in Los Angeles after a brief battle with aggressive cancer. 

Known simply as "Lemmy" to most, he was as famous for his moustache, mutton chops and the mole on his face, as he was for his music. 

Tributes pour in for Lemmy

But he was deeply respected and even revered as a rock innovator, from his time with the seminal psychedelic band Hawkwind in the early 1970s to his four decades in Motörhead, best known for their 1980 anthem Ace of Spades. He was also adamant that that the music he performed was rock, or rock and roll, not metal.

“We were not heavy metal,” he snapped at one interviewer. “We were a rock'n'roll band. Still are. Everyone always describes us as heavy metal even when I tell them otherwise. Why won't people listen?”

The band announced Kilmister's death on its Facebook page, describing him as "our mighty, noble friend" and urging fans to " Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy's music LOUD. Have a drink or few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself. HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT." 

Born on Christmas Eve, 1945, in Staffordshire, England, Kilmister founded Motörhead in 1975. Its bassist and lead singer ever since, Kilmister was royalty among fellow rockers. 

Ozzy Osbourne called him "one of my best friends."

"He will be sadly missed," Osbourne wrote on Twitter. "He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side." 

Tall and lanky, with his distinct look, Lemmy lived rock music - he was a regular at Sunset Strip rocker hangout The Rainbow and never stopped recording and performing.

Kilmister had suffered numerous health issues in recent months. According to the band's statement, he learned of his cancer diagnosis just two days before his death.

But the signs were there. In September, he cut short a concern in Texas, telling the crowd “I have to tell you, I got sick about a week ago”.

After attempting – and failing to to play Metropolis - he stopped and told his fans: “I can't do it.”

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