After 40 years fronting the band Motörhead, Ian Fraser Kilmister, better known to fans as Lemmy, passed away on December 28, 2015 – only four days after celebrating his 70th birthday. Though I’m only a casual Motörhead fan, I feel inspired to share a few thoughts on this occasion. Lemmy was certainly a man with a clear creative vision, remaining true to his ideals throughout his long career.
Motörhead’s 1987 album Rock ‘n’ Roll was an important part of my personal soundtrack in high school. Though Lemmy himself didn’t look back on Rock ‘n’ Roll as one of the band’s best, I think it’s a solid effort; tracks like Traitor and Dogs are highlights that still hold up for me today. Along with other the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, Motörhead blended the energy of punk with the brutal attack of the heaviest metal, paving the way for modern speed metal and thrash. They had a sense of humor, as evidenced by tracks like Vibrator (it’s about exactly what you’re thinking of), and could write some nice melodies, too – All for You is a fine example. They were pioneers in the field of heavy metal punctuation (umlauts are cool), and Lemmy made numerous cameo appearances in film and television over the years – watch for him as the water taxi driver in the 1990 sci-fi movie Hardware (which is worth seeing even if you’re not a Lemmy fan). Some interesting side notes: Lemmy co-wrote Ozzy Osbourne’s 1991 hit Mama, I’m Coming Home, and Motörhead alumnus “Fast” Eddie Clarke went on to form Fastway – one of the great underrated metal bands of the 1980s.
In closing, here’s Lemmy and company performing Ace of Spades earlier this year. He was definitely one of rock’s coolest senior citizens.