>   Lemmy Kilmister / Motörhead                            
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Lemmy K. 1972
> Lemmy Kilmister -
this name more or less equals Motörhead one of the most influential rock bands -
which is still going strong, even well after it's 2nd decade has begun...

Born as Ian Frazier Kilmister on a Christmas eve and the son of a vicar - the man set out to become one of the most uncompromising - yet successful musicians - in the rock business.

Though Motörhead are frequently addressed as a heavy-metal / hard rock etc... band to Lemmy it was, is and will remain Rock 'n Roll!

That's what started the whole thing for him:
"It's Little Richard's fault, all of it.
Little Richard is directly responsible for Motörhead.
I heard "Good Golly, Mrs. Molly" and that was the end of it... Motörhead is Rock'n'Roll. I remember it before metal or punk.
I came up with Elvis and Little Richard the first time round."

Lemmy - 2004So, rock-music soon became the major obsession - but besides taking up the pieces himself, Lemmy also became Jimi Hendrix' roadie for a while - getting knee-deep into the drug-soaked world of psychedelia...
Around '66 he joined - maybe according to his father's profession - a band named The Rockin' Vicars - two other bands followed: Sam Gopal and Opal Butterfly

Around this time he got in loose touch with the band that Robert Calvert had joined forces with as well: Hawkwind.
Drummer of Opal Butterfly was Simon King - soon to become drummer of Hawkwind and Lemmy's flatmate was a certain Dik Mik - an old friend of Robert Calvert from the Margate-days and already a member of Hawkwind, operating the audio generators.

Around late 1971 Hawkwind was in desperate need of a bass-player and Dik-Mik repeatedly recommended his friend Lemmy. The band knew that Lemmy had a reputation of being a notorious 'speed-freak' - but after finally doing an audition he got the job - and immediately turned into one of the key-members of the band.

(early) Hawkwind  w. Lemmy + Calvert (back) 1972

Though he didn't contribute much to the songwriting, his powerful, energetic style - accompanied by the equally forceful new HW-drummer Simon King - gave the band much of the drive that should gain it its almost legendary status in the years to come.

One of the first recordings Lemmy did with Hawkwind was the bands first (and only) hit-single Silver Machine - composed by Robert Calvert and Dave Brock. Though Calvert was the original singer, it were Lemmy's vocals that appeared on the final single-release - and it was also him who did the vocals in the filmed version of it - in the band's first (and I believe only) Top of the Pops appearance.

doremi fasol latido - cover The first Lp featuring Lemmy was the 1972 release Doremi Fasol Latido - the album that for many Hawkwind fans marks the beginning of the band's 'golden period' - and features Lemmy's delirious, eerie acoustic contribution The Watcher - describing a kind of desperate Orwell-ish surveillance situation:

We are looking in on you now
What do you think you can do now
You're so very small from way out here
The last thing you will feel is fear
I gave you the chance to do the right thing

              The Watcher <

> lyrics by Lemmy Kilmister

I gave you the chance to do the bright thing
Now my sense is so disgusted
A world imprisoned screams with pain
There are no leaders you can blame
Human greed has destroyed your sphere
And there's no room for you out here
This is the end now.

Lemmy 2004The album was followed by extensive touring with the gigantic Space Ritual set-up. From this tour the band compiled a double live album by the same name that marked the bands biggest commercial success and their first creative climax.
Lemmy's dynamic style can be heard on this album at its best - in songs like the crushing Time we left or the catchy Calvert co-composition Orgone Accumulator.
The Space Ritual finally secured the band's cult-status - that it still gains up to date.

Hawkwind's rise to fame also presented them with even more kind attention from the local police forces (mostly the drug-squad commission)...

> LISTEN   to one of the episodes that the band - and Mr. Calvert and Mr. Kilmister went through - as told by Robert Calvert in a radio interview in 1982.... (real-audio file)

1974 saw the release of Hawkwind's new studio album Hall of the Mountain Grill.
In the meantime Calvert had left the band to pursue his solo-projects and new members had completed the line-up - pulling the band into a more melodic - keyboards/synth based direction. This was probably already the beginning of a certain departure of Lemmy from the rest of the band in musical terms - though again he contributed one song to the album: Lost Johnny - co-written by Mick Farren, former member of The Pink Fairies - it is a much heavier song than most of the others on the album.

The band went through the usual cycle of recording and touring and recording.... - and Lemmy kept his cycles as well - that didn't always agree with the rest of the band - his way of playing - being already very loud and aggressive brought up more and more problems.

Dave Brock on some scenes during Hawkwind gigs at the time:
"The other night Simon King kept hitting Lemmy on the legs with his drumsticks because Lemmy kept staggering into his cymbals.
I had a go at Lemmy the other because he just couldn't pull himself together, and he threw his bass on the stage because the strings kept coming out of the bridge.
Lemmy the lead-man (watch that trouser!) At Hammersmith Lemmy's lead kept coming out of the amp, and he carried on playing...
He's so deaf he didn't even realise. He plays so loud, man. That's what annoys Simon House. Lemmy plays so loud he can't hear a thing we're playing. And we were all shouting to Lemmy, you know, 'your fuckin' lead, man' and he still didn't understand. Then somebody plugged in in and I told him 'you cunt, if you do that again, I'll fuckin kill you.'
And sure enough he did it again.
We were all freaking out about that.
Lemmy's quite a good front man, though. He can put it about a bit. Likes to pose a lot."

Well, it was surely MUCH more than posing that Lemmy still delievered...
...and he remained a member of Hawkwind for more than another year. In 1975 the band released Warrior on the Edge of Time - which marked another step into a more symphonic direction - dominated by the brilliant work on keyboards / mellotron and violin by Simon House - who could finally hear what the others were doing.

Warrior was clearly another step into the opposite musical direction Lemmy was heading for. Listening to the album these days, it seems hard to believe that the Motörhead - mastermind was on it. - And his basslines did sound less aggressive than on former albums...
The album didn't include a composition by Lemmy the single outtake 'Kings of Speed' featured a Kilmister composition on it's b-side, entitled MOTÖRHEAD.

In retrospect, this could very well mark the beginning of the end (of this Hawkwind line-up) and the beginning of the beginning of Motörhead.
Anyway, another tour had to go underway, before the final split of Lemmy took place - not in a big row on stage - but under rather strange and embarrassing circumstances. Attempting another of their almost traditionally ill-fated US-tours, the band had to cross the Canadian border after a gig in Toronto....but Lemmy didn't came through the customs...

Hawkwind in '75 - shortly before Lemmy's (r) departure

Lemmy: "Well, it was a bust, but not quite the way most people mean. Crossing the U.S.-Canadian border, they found some amphetamine and thought it was cocaine. I spent a night in one of their prisons. The band, somewhat hypocritically, I think, fired me, and I went home to form a new group.
Best thing that happened to me, really."

The time was 1975, when Lemmy - obviously pissed off by his fomer band members - returned to London and decided to form his own band called Bastard.
However, his manager argued that a band by that name would never ever set a foot into Top of the Pops, and Lemmy changed the name to the title of the last song he wrote for Hawkwind: Motörhead - the slang term for 'speed freak'.

Lemmy K. 1995 It took Motörhead around 3 years to really take off in commercial terms - and the rest is more or less history. Since 1977 - when the band was still playing support for Hawkwind on their U.K. tour - Lemmy and his comrades in arms and bullet-belts, are churning out records and touring continuously.
Their reputation increases year after year - and one will hardly find a (heavier) rock-band that doesn't acknowledge Motörhead as an important influence - or at least a band, that never lost its credibility - after all those years.

In 1995, when Motörhead saw the beginning of its 2nd decade - and Lemmy his 50th birthday, even the boys of Metallica flew in to Los Angeles, to dress up like Lemmy-clones and do a short tribute gig to him, calling themselves THE LEMMY'S!

By now, Lemmy and Motörhead have already gained the status of a living legend - but fortunately, Lemmy keeps cool enough to deal with this.
Just recently, when during an online Q & A game on the official Motörhead site, one of his fans claimed
"Lemmy, you are god!", his sobering reply was:
              "I've seen God on acid - he's taller."
So there.

Lemmy But however sad and unfortunate the circumstances of Lemmy's split from Hawkwind were - Mr. Kilmister is not only known to be outspoken against the press, politicians and all sorts of hypocrite's - he's also generous and forgiving...
Over the years he appeared from time to time at Hawkwind gigs and also guested on the band's 1984 Ep Night of the Hawks

lord of the hornets Calvert's and Lemmy's friendship, however, remained untroubled throughout those years - and Lemmy kept on collaborating with Calvert also on his solo-albums.
He played bass on Calvert's 1st solo album Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters and also on the 1982 single release Lord of the Hornets.

Lemmy - 2004 Calvert has been very fond of Lemmy throughout his life and obviously also appreciated his post-Hawkwind music. In an interview he even stated that he wished the sound of his current band (his last one that was: The Starfighters) to be something like a cross between Kraftwerk and Motörhead - however that may sound...

...alas, due to the early death of Calvert, we will never know -
...but the thought alone is inspiring ~ amusing, isn't it...

LINKS - More on Lemmy Kilmister / Motörhead:
  • Read Lemmy's short obituary on Calvert on The World ON Calvert pages.

  • The official web-trench of Motörhead
    THE site on the band. Here you'll find a wide range of infos on the band: their history, discography, tour news, video-stuff and even the section 'LEMMY SPEAKS' - Mr. K. was quite busy answering all sort of questions - quite entertaining and funny...

  • Lemmymania - a new page (1/98) on Lemmy and Motörhead - contains rare photos, lots of background infos on Lemmy's pre-Motörhead days - and promises to serve you more soon. recommended.

  • another comprehensive Motörhead site, edited by Scott Andrews, containing various links to related pages.

  • the WILMA spotlight on Motörhead - an extensive interview with Lemmy. Recommended.

  • The Motörhead Coffee-Break interview - for this you'll need the Real Audio Player - and then you'll have Lemmy in O-tone!
    Annexed to it you can have a look at one of Lemmy's poems!

  • Yet another Lemmy interview on his former activities with Hawkwind, his current Motörhead affairs etc. -