Motörhead frontman and bassist Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister has died at age 70 from cancer. Kilmister, the founding and lone consistent member of the pioneering heavy metal band, was best known for his snarling vocals and larger than life rock ‘n roll persona. The English group known best for rock anthem Ace of Spades confirmed the news Monday on the band’s Facebook page.
Updated 12/29/2015 at 2:15 p.m.: Motörhead drummer Mikkey Dee has confirmed that the remaining band members will not be recording or touring under the iconic group’s name after Lemmy’s passing yesterday. “Motörhead is over, of course. Lemmy was Motörhead,” said Dee to Swedish publication Expressen (via Rolling Stone).
Born in 1945, Kilmister began his career in rock ‘n roll in 1964 in Blackpool, England playing with local R&B groups according to AllMusic. After a short stint as a roadie for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, he took a turn as the bassist for space rock band Hawkwind. “In Hawkwind I became a good bass player,” he said to Classic Rock magazine in 2012 (according to BBC). “It was where I learned I was good at something.”
The rocker then formed his own band Motörhead in 1975. Over his five-decade career with the group, Kilmister recorded 22 studio records including Ace of Spades (1980) and the British chart-topping live record No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith (1981). The group’s most recent full-length, Bad Magic, was released in August 2015. Kilmister certainly didn’t expect the group to last this long, telling USA Today earlier this year that he thought Motörhead would be a band for “about six months.”
While Kilmister had a penchant for drinking and doing drugs, he did finally give up the vices in 2013 due to health complications. “I suddenly realized I was waking up in pools of other people’s vomit, and I had no recollection of them,” Kilmister said to Rolling Stone last year. “That’s a bit much. I’m not saying don’t have fun, don’t snort the occasional line – but don’t make it your life.”
On Monday night, many hard rock compatriots took to Twitter to honor the late frontman, including fellow rock icons Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss’ Gene Simmons.
Lost one of my best friends, Lemmy, today. He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) December 29, 2015
Lemmy: Rest In Peace. Shake the heavens, my friend.
— Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) December 29, 2015