Lemmy Kilmister before Motorhead

Lemmy Kilmister before Motorhead
Lemmy Kilmister before Motorhead

Motorhead is one of the bands that greatly influenced a huge number of artists at the end of the 20th century and even new bands and singers today to make music. They come from the city of London, and its birth marked the beginning of a new stage, a new way in which Rock and Roll could be played.

Many people consider that Motorhead built the foundations of heavy metal and also thrash metal, or at least was one of the pioneering bands in these sub-genres. Even the members of Metallica claim that Motorhead was the source of inspiration for their band to be born and become what it is today.

Many consider Motorhead to be the pioneers of Metal. . Credit: Kees Tabak

However, Lemmy Kilmister always flatly refused to accept Motorhead's inclusion in heavy metal. His reasons have been simple, summing up that he and his colleagues have always played in the band with a Rock essence.

Furthermore, the sound they projected was of an incredibly strong power, but without affecting the meaning of their music. Finally, his opinion concluded that volume is not everything, something that some metalheads, according to his words, still could not understand.

Kilmister was the person who decided to form this rock band, the same one that shook the floor of concert halls wherever they performed. Motorhead, the band that spent 40 years playing music, simply would not be possible without Lemmy.

Stubborn and visionary as he was, Lemmy constantly refused to be included in Heavy Metal, maintaining a unique way of playing Rock. Credit: Unknown

But the person behind the nickname "Lemmy" was someone quite unique, very honest about his own problems, aware of what could happen with substance abuse. He was the man who never lost his essence as a human being, because there was not a single time that he refused to collaborate with another artist. Furthermore, he was always faithful to his project and his way of seeing life is what could really define who Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister was.

Although all the events that the vocalist and bassist starred in while in Motorhead were extremely important, fun and at times they could seem to be the work of destiny, it would be interesting to clear up the mystery of this man.

Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister was considered one of the actors who most maintained his human side, never refusing to collaborate with any artist. Credit: Unknown

Setting aside his death in 2015 from a type of terminal cancer, leaving out his last concert, which he abandoned claiming that he could not continue singing, going back in time you can begin to see Lemmy's real life before it was Lemmy from Motorhead.

That moment Ian was his name and his 50th birthday celebrated with Metallica had not yet come, and the gorilla, wolf and dog with horns and chains was not yet illustrating the name of Motorhead. That is the stage before 1975, the life of Ian Kilmister prior to his participation in the group with "Bastard" as the original name.

The young Lemmy had a hard life full of problems with drugs and alcohol, however, that did not affect his musical talent. Credit: Michael Putland

"My first memory is of screaming, to whom and for what reason do I ignore it, it was probably a tantrum or I was just rehearsing"

This amusing phrase was said by Lemmy when his nickname had already consolidated, playing between the cries of a newborn and with the passion of music that has always been present from his innermost being.

Kilmister was born in the city of Burslem in the frozen European nation of England. The time this rock superstar came into the world was winter, which could be represented as hell if it were cold, especially for a mother and a baby. December 24 was the day that this important event occurred, in the year of 1945 to be more specific.

Lemmy as a child was somewhat rebellious and had a very different way of thinking than others, which led him to develop the style of Motorhead in the future. Credit: Michael Putland

His father abandoned his mother when Ian reached the young age of just three months, the reasons are unknown. However, it is most likely that this happened due to a lack of interest in caring for the child and taking care of his mother in terms of finances. Ian, his mother, and his maternal grandmother moved at least twice before he was 3 years old. Although they soon found a home in the Madeley region, it is Staffordshire.

Young Lemmy Kilmister said that by the time he was born, there was no Rock or anything else that could compare to it. Credit: Unknown

"... During the first 10 years of my life, Rock didn't even exist ..."

When Ian began to live his nine years, he also began to live with three new personalities for him. These individuals were his two stepbrothers, Patricia and Tony, who were the children of George Willis, who in that same year was marrying Ian's mother, becoming himself his stepfather.

The five of them moved to Wales, having a not very friendly coexistence, since Kilmister himself claims that he was never able to properly relate to the children of his mother's new husband.

However, this move to another terrain, a more rural one with a family farm, was the environment he witnessed the first time Ian was drawn to an acoustic guitar. Girls also quickly became another of their passions at this young age that Ian had.

It is from here that the inspiration for the immortal phrase that Lemmy once uttered and engraved in the memory of thousands of people arises: “The discovery of sex came before that of Rock and Roll because it must be taken into account that during the Rock didn't even exist for the first 10 years of my life ”.

During the early years of his life, Lemmy's family moved to a rural setting. This was the place where he found his two greatest passions: stringed instruments (acoustic guitar at the time) and women. Credit: Diffusion

The nickname "Lemmy"

This is undoubtedly one of the best kept secrets of Ian Kilmister's entire musical, artistic and personal career, but it is undoubtedly one of the most recurring questions that the singer could be asked when he had the opportunity.

However, popular opinion always affirms for sure that the word or nickname of Lemmy was born in one of the schools in which he studied in his childhood, the Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones of Amlwch.

Lemmy is a kind of derivation of "lend me" from the phrase "lend me a fiver", since it is stated that, since he was a child, he developed a great addiction to slot machines that were found in pubs. That is why it is supposed that "Lend me" became "Lemmy" and that is the nickname that the singer adopted.

The nickname "Lemmy" has always remained one of the artist's biggest secrets. To this day it is still unclear where it comes from, although he made a clarification. Credit: Unknown

On the other hand, since this version of the origin of his stage name Ian became popular, Ian Kilmister denied it at all costs. He was quite emphatic in stating that he was making a mistake in thinking that this was the reason the nickname came up.

Answering the question that was already causing a bit of annoyance for the singer, he was able to argue that "Lemmy" was born out of his childhood school. However, Wales was the place from which this distinctive could be born among all the performers of Rock and Roll.

He concluded his statement in the face of this question with a closing that did not yet accurately count the justification for the nickname, but at least cleared up the "Lend me a fiver". Quite simply, "Lemmy" was the name given to him by the farmers in the neighboring areas of the farm where he lived in Kilmister, out of pure affection, although the reason is still unknown.

Introducing The Beatles and music entering Ian's mind

Lemmy was inspired by The Beatles, like many other rock artists, when he was only 17 years old he was at one of their concerts and despite being drunk, this marked his future career. Credit: Allen Burgess

The Beatles was one of the greatest inspirations for Lemmy, he has always said so. In fact, the Rock and Roll of John, Paul, George and Ringo is the style of music on which Motorhead would later be consolidated, since that was the scheme they wanted to follow.

At the young age of 16, Ian Kilmister had the opportunity to attend one of the events that really made his musical career exist, a performance by The Beatles.

This important event in his life took place in the Cavern, surrounded by people too drunk to know who was on stage. But this was not an inconvenience for him, since he was in front of one of his biggest idols, John Lennon.

Although he was never able to pose with his greatest idol (John Lennon), Lemmy was later able to pose with the great Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Credit of the pic: Rob Shannaman

In this environment not worthy of the four music legends of all time, a man shouted an insult at John Lennon, saying he was "a fag." The singer stopped for a moment, got off the stage and asked for the person who had addressed the comment in bad taste.

The person who performed this despicable act rose from his seat saying that he did. John, the main promoter of love and peace, made himself respected by giving two direct blows to the face, causing the man to lose consciousness and some fragments of his teeth.

This show of attitude, combined with the band's excellent musical work and the unique feeling of being able to see a pioneering Rock and Roll band live influenced Kilmister's decision to consider music seriously.

With all these thoughts in his head, Ian a few years later bought the band's "Please Please Me" album. This made it possible for him to learn to play the guitar only by listening to The Beatles debut album out of his passion and many hours of reproduction and effort.

Lemmy's stepfather decided to support him in his decision to pursue a music career, however, it was necessary for him to find a job to help out at home. Credit: Unknown

Lemmy's hair and his first job

Ian Kilmister was already taking his last steps under his birth name, as he would soon take advantage of that nickname that the Welsh peasants had given him.

Plus, the experience of being able to see The Beatles in a pub was changing his perspective on the way he wanted to live life.

But there is always a detail in any of these types of stories, in Lemmy's case, it was the time when school ended. At that stage of his life he already knew that he wanted to dedicate himself to music. Lemmy suddenly felt one of those impulses that seem of little logic but that without them certain things could not have been achieved, such as entering the music scene.

However, it was still a few years before this could happen. On the other hand, Ian made a decision against the advice of his family and left high school, just as he was about to finish it.

Lemmy almost lost his first job because of a remark about his hair (it could get tangled in the machinery) and he had to shave it off. Lemmy indicated that for him it was "Sacred" Credit: Unknown

His stepfather accepted the will of young Kilmister, but a job was one of the best options to follow, because he had to contribute to the home and a couple of extra pounds would not hurt his pocket.

Ian agreed, since George Willis himself managed to get a job at the Hotpoint company, which specialized in industrial washing machines.

On his first day on the job, Kilmister had to return home again. This was because one of his supervisors made an observation about his long hair, which had to be shaved since otherwise a tragic accident could occur with any of the machinery.

Lemmy understood his boss's concern, but his hair, according to his words: "It is sacred." For this reason, he kept working at Hotpoint, but only because a hair net was the solution that could be reached between both parties, maintaining the "Sacred" and security.

Jimi Hendrix and Lemmy Kilmister on the same stage ... but from different angles

Jimi Hendrix on stage. Photo credit: Unknown

After witnessing a fight between John Lennon and a drunk, not being able to complete even the first day at Hotpoint because of the length of his hair and being able to learn to play the guitar just by listening to The Beatles, there was also an opportunity where Lemmy Kilmister was a collaborator/roadie with the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

However, the kind of work these two rockers from different eras had together would not be what many people would imagine. Taking into account that Kilmister was not yet involved in high-rise music projects in the late 1960s, one can understand the role he played as Hendrix's Roadie.

He was personally in charge of preparing the guitars that Jimi used for his very characteristic concerts. In addition, his work also included repairing the stage pedals that the singer could damage. On many occasions, he had to clean the stage after Jimi Hendix' performances.

Hawkwind, the band that started the career of this wonderful bass player, and where he saw his first mishaps in the world of alcohol and drugs.. Photo credit: Rollingstones.com

Hawkwind: Vices, prison, expulsions and the birth of another era

After small rock groups in which Lemmy participated as guitarist and occasional vocalist, as is the case of Sam Gopal, Opal Butterfly and The Rockin´ Vickers, the year 1971 came.

Back then, the Hawkwind band was formed and he had the opportunity to join this group of very talented musicians. It was there that he started playing bass, but also where drugs and his excessive use of them began.

According to Kilmister himself, "Drugs were a common bond in Hawkwind, it was the only way to guess if you were one of us." From what can be clearly understood that the use of substances in the group was very recurrent.

However, Hawkwind achieved a great victory together with Lemmy, since Silver Machine, a song in which Kilmister adds his voice, came to position at number 3 of the most popular singles in Great Britain, in 1972.

Finally, due to problems with the band and the use of drugs and alcohol, Lemmy decided to from his own band: Motorhead. Credit: Diffusion

But drugs always have consequences and will somehow cause avoidable problems. In the case of the bassist and singer, it happened the following year from Silver Machine, in Canada. In the country of North America they arrested him for possession of illicit drugs.

This was the drop that spilled the glass and Lemmy was expelled from the band. Kilmister, several years later, left an ironic phrase saying: "I was arrested with drugs because I used the wrong drugs."

2 years after this incident with the law, Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister decided to form his own band, which would later become a landmark for Rock.

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