Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead Dead at 70

Photo by Hannah Verbeuren

Lemmy Kilmister, frontman and bassist for groundbreaking rock trio Motörhead, has died, according to various sources. The veteran British musician known mainly by his first name, a longtime West Hollywood resident and fixture of the L.A. rock scene — especially at his favorite hangout, the Rainbow Bar & Grill — had just turned 70 on Dec. 24.

Less than half an hour after news of his passing began spreading via social media, Motörhead confirmed it via their Facebook page, saying the singer died at home on Monday, Dec. 28, just two days after being diagnosed with "an extremely aggressive cancer." Lemmy was "sitting in front of his favorite video game from the Rainbow, which had recently made its way down the street, with his family," according to the post.

The news spread like wildfire via Twitter, with fellow musicians from Billy Idol to Ozzy Osbourne taking to social media to pay their respects. "Lost one of my best friends, Lemmy, today," Osbourne wrote. "He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side."

Over the past two years, the famously hard-living musician had dealt with some health issues, most recently a lung infection that forced Motörhead to cancel some shows in August and September. Even after the band returned to the road in support of their latest album, Bad Magic, rumors of Lemmy's declining health continued to circulate, prompting him to declare in an interview with Classic Rock magazine earlier this month, "I’m sick of the fucking, ‘Are you going to die?’ line of questioning. It's getting really old, that question. I’m all right."

Born Ian Fraser Kilmister in Stoke-on-Trent in 1945, Lemmy first achieved fame as a member of the prog-rock group Hawkwind before founding Motörhead in 1975. The band was often credited with inventing what later became known as speed metal, and Lemmy was celebrated for his unique bass-playing style, in which he frequently strummed all four strings like a rhythm guitarist. 

Lemmy's death comes less than two months after the death of former Motörhead drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor.

"We will say more in the coming days," his surviving bandmates said via Facebook, "but for now, please … play Motörhead loud, play Hawkwind loud, play Lemmy’s music LOUD. Have a drink or few. Share stories. Celebrate the LIFE this lovely, wonderful man celebrated so vibrantly himself."

Read more: L.A. Weekly's 2011's Q&A with Lemmy

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