Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, the charismatic frontman of heavy metal group Motörhead, has died of cancer, the band announced on Facebook. He was 70 years old.
“There is no easy way to say this…our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer,” the post reads.
The singer and bassist celebrated his birthday Thursday and found out about his cancer two days later, according to the Facebook post.
Born in Staffordshire, England, Lemmy played in the space rock group Hawkwind from 1972 to 1975. Breaking from his former group’s sound, Kilmister formed Motörhead along with Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox in 1975. The name was the same as the final song Kilmister penned for Hawkwind, which is track No. 1 on Motörhead’s first recorded album, On Parole.
Not long after forming the group, Wallis and Fox were replaced by a new guitarist and drummer in Eddie Clarke and the late Phil Taylor, respectively. The trio produced five albums together, including the seminal Ace of Spades in 1980.
Motörhead produced 22 studio albums with various lineups, with Lemmy as the only regular member. The most recent configuration included guitarist Phil Campbell and former King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee; the group put out August’s Bad Magic. Kilmister’s brash vocals and frantic bass riffs were essential to the group’s frenetic sound, and his look — a black cowboy hat and mutton chops — was synonymous with the band’s image.
Known for his love of alcohol and brazen personality, Lemmy embraced the rockstar image.
“If you’re gonna be a f—ing rock star, go be one. People don’t want to see the guy next door on the stage, they want to see a being from another planet,” he told the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “You want to see somebody you’d never meet in ordinary life, for a start. You want to see a being from somewhere else, who comes to your planet, f—s you up and goes away again.
“That’s the idea with rock & roll. It should be amazing from start to finish and not ordinary.”
The group’s music never produced exorbitant record sales, but did garner a cult following and influence other musicians. Members of the rock family posted their condolences on social media: