Lemmy, born Ian Fraser Kilmister, the legendary frontman of iconic metal band Motorhead, died Monday at his home in Los Angeles due to complications from an aggressive cancer that was only discovered on Dec. 26, according to the band’s official Facebook page.
If there were a definition of the term “badass” in the Oxford Dictionary, Lemmy’s picture would be it. The man lived a pure rock and roll lifestyle until his last breath. Famous for his deep vocals into a down-turned microphone and his unorthodox style of playing bass, Lemmy proved an inspiration to a generation of musicians of all genres. Many called his style of playing “lead bass” because he really wasn’t holding the low end as most bassists do. He was like a second lead guitarist in the Motorhead trio.
Lemmy had experienced a number of health issues in recent months, cutting shows short in Salt Lake City and Austin and canceling a show in Denver altogether. Prior to leaving the stage in Austin, he said, “I can’t do it,” before leaving the stage. The thin air of Salt Lake was named as the cause for Lemmy cutting the show short and also given as the reason for the Denver cancelation.
Musicians the world over have taken to social media to express their sympathies and appreciation for Lemmy, including original Motorhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who wears the unfortunate title of sole remaining original member of the band following the November death of drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor.
Gene Simmons of KISS posted:
Lemmy: Rest In Peace, my friend. pic.twitter.com/2M6VPiBGyE
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) December 29, 2015
Lemmy was born in Burslem, England on Dec. 24, 1945. The infamous Hollywood club, Whiskey A Go Go, hosted a private, star-studded 70th birthday celebration for Lemmy on Dec. 13. The show featured a band consisting of Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum and Gilby Clarke of Guns N Roses; Robert Trujillo of Metallica; Charlie Benante and Scott Ian of Anthrax; Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society; and Steve Vai, among others.
Comedian Jim Norton, who befriended Lemmy and had him as his band director on the short-lived HBO stand-up series Down and Dirty, tweeted the following:
— Jim Norton (@JimNorton) December 29, 2015
Lemmy began his musical career in the early ’60s and was heavily influenced by the Beatles. He served time as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and earned his chops in the early prog-rock band Hawkwind. On his exit from the band, Lemmy said in his autobiography that he was fired “for doing the wrong drugs.”
Motorhead and Lemmy’s legacy loom large on the metal scene and popular music as a whole. His death leaves a big hole in rock and roll. The world has lost a legend and as posted on Motorhead’s Facebook page:
Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself.
HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister
Born to lose, lived to win.
We’d say “Rest in Peace, Lemmy” but you’d tell us to “Eff off.” RIP anyway, sir.