Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister — “a pirate of the rock business,” “the king of partying” and a “fucking monster” on a bass as the frontman for the English rock band Motörhead — died on December 28 at age 70. Dressed like a biker with black mutton chops, he spoke the language of a poet and dominated the stage with his gravely voice for nearly four decades. He recorded more than 250 tracks and penned a slew of cult classics, including “Motörhead,” “(We Are) The Road Crew” and “Killed by Death.”
Born on Dec. 24, 1945, Kilmister began his musical journey as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and ended it on Monday just two days after his 70th birthday. He was sitting at home, in front of his favorite video game, surrounded by loved ones when he died after a short battle with cancer, the band reported on its official Facebook page. “We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness,” the band wrote. “There aren’t words. We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please…. play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD.”
Local metal royalty recalled their own Lemmy tales for the Dallas Observer. “Music Man” Jeffrey Liles, artistic director of the historic Kessler Theater in Dallas, met Lemmy years before he moved out to LA when he was booking at The Longhorn Ballroom in 1986. He actually promoted a show with Motörhead, Wendy O. Williams, Cro-Mags and Scratch Acid and later wrote about the experience for the Dallas Observer.
“All Ira [Zack, the owner of Longhorn Ballroom at the time] saw was a snotty, naked Yankee chick with a peroxide Mohawk screaming at a pungent English speed freak with a gigantic mole on his face,” Liles wrote in the Nov. 6, 2008 article. “It didn’t help matters that Motörhead sound check was so fuckin’ loud that it sounded like a 747 had parked inside the building.
“Once the [Motörhead] show began, Zack was clearly disturbed by everything he saw,” Liles added. “He had never been exposed to slam dancing or a mosh pit. Bloody punks straggled through the aisle towards the fire exit. Tattooed women dressed in biker gear spewed projectile vomit in every direction.
“The Longhorn Ballroom had a long history of impromptu riots and lawless psychosis,” he continued. “But this crowd was off some Road Warriors shit.”
His reputation often preceded him, even among other rockers. Local metal guitarist Rick Perry said his band Puncture opened for Motörhead in the mid-’90s. “I saw him backstage,” Perry said. “But I was too awestruck to speak. Motörhead has always been a symbol of no-compromise, no-bullshit, raw rock ‘n’ roll.”
“Thrashin’” Alan Tuggle, who’s been playing Lemmy’s songs on KNON’s Hard Time Radio show, recalled having a few Lemmy encounters over the years, but the most memorable occurred in 2002 when a friend named Hillbilly Joe Bowden made a custom cowboy hat for Tuggle’s metal hero. “After I watched him snort a huge line of something, he asked me to walk outside with him so he could smoke a cig,” Tuggle said. “We talked for about a half hour, and I didn’t understand a single word he was saying. But I didn’t let on.”
But the biggest Hard Time Radio moment occurred in 1997 when Tuggle and the late Pantera guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott put together a Motörhead cover night at the Tattoo Bar with Pantera headlining. “Lemmy gave his approval and even recorded a drop for the spot that we ran to promote it,” Tuggle said. “That was the biggest KNON benefit ever.”
Tuggle plans to turn Hard Time Radio into “Lemmy Time Radio” for a four-hour tribute from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Thursday on KNON 89.3FM.
Local musicians were also quick to post their thoughts about news of Kilmister’s death on their social media accounts as well as remembrances of their tales with the legendary rock star. Warbeast’s frontman Bruce Corbitt posted on Facebook, “FUCK!” and then provided a link to what the fuck he was talking about — an article titled “R.I.P. Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead Has Passed Away” by Bloody-Disgusting.com.
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Rock royalty also posted remembrances on their social media accounts. Foo Fighters wrote on Facebook, “My heart is broken. RIP Lemmy. Born to Lose, Lived to Win.” And Ozzy Osbourne tweeted, “He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend.” Kilmister had written several hits with Osbourne, including “Mama, I’m Coming Home, “See You on the Other Side” and the Grammy-winning “I Don’t Want to Change the World.”
Landon Uys, vocalist for Generator, posted on Facebook a grainy 2004 photo of him standing next to Kilmister at The Rainbow, a bar in Hollywood where the rock legend could often be found nursing a drink or two.
Uys wrote about one particular experience where he bought a bundle of roses from a flower girl who happened to be selling roses at The Rainbow and approached Kilmister who sat at the bar. “I laid the bundle of roses on the bar next to him and said, ‘These are for you, Lemmy. I love you, man!’” Uys recalled. “He turned around and looked at me embarrassed like he was gonna punch me in the face. Then he cracked a smile and said, ‘Fucking piss off.’ And we took this picture a few moments later.”
Former Pantera and Down bassist Rex Brown, who now slings for Kill Devil Hill, took to LinkedIn to share his thoughts, “Long Live Motörhead! I’m gutted…. The man had a hell of a run! Rock-n-Roll will never be the same.”