Integrity is everything to me. I will not die ashamed. I will live on my deathbed knowing that I gave it my best shot, and everything else is meaningless to me
Although the title of ‘rock and roll legend’ is perhaps one applied overly commonly, there can be no dispute that Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister was. A walking, talking, growling, prowling, banging, crashing, hell-raising master of the stage, he epitomised the hard-living, hard-drinking attitude that so many fledgling musicians and bands have tried to mimic.
Although Lemmy is best known as the singer, bassist and creative tour-de-force behind Motörhead, his career in music up to that point was well underway - not as a frontman, but a roadie. After the breakup of his first band The Rockin’ Vicars he got a job as a member of the crew for Jimi Hendrix’s UK tour, lugging equipment up and down the country and mixing with rock royalty. He then joined space-rockers Hawkwind, singing on their best known single Silver Machine and playing the bass guitar with an overzealous amount of distortion to create a unique, heavy sound. He was fired from the band in 1975 when he was caught with amphetamines while crossing the Canadian border - he would later say that “I was doing the wrong drugs, see. If I had been caught with acid, those guys would have all rallied around me”.
Unperturbed, he went on to form his own band, originally named Bastards - he was talked down by a producer and decided on Motörhead instead. The band’s music is legendary, and helped to pave the way for heavy rock and metal in the decades since. Lemmy’s distinctive, gravelly voice was unique and instantly recognisable, and his lifestyle offstage was just as hard and fast as the music on it. He started smoking at 11, and would drink a bottle of Jack Daniels every day, along with an assortment of drugs. He lived the lifestyle that is often sung about, but rarely lived out in full, and he remains one of the greatest influencers to rock and metal worldwide.