Lemmy Kilmister, Motörhead frontman and hard-rock hero, dies aged 70

Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister, the Motorhead frontman whose oversized persona made him a hero for generations of hard-rockers and metal-heads, has died. He was 70.

Lemmy Kilmister performing with Motorhead during Glastonbury Music Festival in June 2015. Joel Ryan / Invision / AP file
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Chris Newbould

Motorhead singer and bassist Lemmy, born Ian Kilmister in 1945 in Stoke-on-Trent, England, has passed away aged 70. The exact cause of death has not yet been confirmed, although Motörhead’s official website posted a statement last night citing “a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.” The legendary frontman has suffered from a number of health problems, including haematoma, for several years. Lemmy also had a defibrillator fitted in 2013 to correct an irregular heartbeat.

Lemmy's first major gig came when he joined the British spacerock outfit Hawkwind in 1972, going on to write and sing on some of their best-known songs, including performing vocals on their biggest hit Silver Machine and writing the song that would go on to be the name of his next band, Motörhead, his final track with Hawkwind.

Astoundingly, considering the band he was a member of, Lemmy was thrown out of Hawkwind in 1975 for his excessive lifestyle. For better or worse, Lemmy never gave up on his love of certain intoxicants, or of performing. Lemmy's own autobiography claims that when he tried to follow The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards down the blood transfusion route to better health, his specialist advised him that he may die without alcohol in his bloodstream. As recently as 2014 he told the UK's Guardian, "Apparently I am still indestructible," adding that the only thing that would stop him playing music was death itself.

Sadly, after 22 studio albums with Motörhead, a stint as bassist in The Damned, his time in Hawkwind, and appearances with the likes of The Sex Pistols, Slash, The Foo Fighters, and even winning a Grammy, ironically, for a cover of Metallica's Whiplash, Lemmy has proved destructible.

Lemmy never married, but is survived by an extensive collection of second world war memorabilia and a lot of bass guitars.