Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, the charismatic frontman of heavy metal group Motörhead, has died of cancer, the band announced on Facebook. He was 70 years old.
“There is no easy way to say this…our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer,” the post reads.
The singer and bassist celebrated his birthday Thursday and found out about his cancer two days later, according to the Facebook post.
Born in Staffordshire, England, Lemmy played in the space rock group Hawkwind from 1972 to 1975. Breaking from his former group’s sound, Kilmister formed Motörhead along with Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox in 1975. The name was the same as the final song Kilmister penned for Hawkwind, which is track No. 1 on Motörhead’s first recorded album, On Parole.
Not long after forming the group, Wallis and Fox were replaced by a new guitarist and drummer in Eddie Clarke and the late Phil Taylor, respectively. The trio produced five albums together, including the seminal Ace of Spades in 1980.
Motörhead produced 22 studio albums with various lineups, with Lemmy as the only regular member. The most recent configuration included guitarist Phil Campbell and former King Diamond drummer Mikkey Dee; the group put out August’s Bad Magic. Kilmister’s brash vocals and frantic bass riffs were essential to the group’s frenetic sound, and his look — a black cowboy hat and mutton chops — was synonymous with the band’s image.
Known for his love of alcohol and brazen personality, Lemmy embraced the rockstar image.
“If you’re gonna be a f—ing rock star, go be one. People don’t want to see the guy next door on the stage, they want to see a being from another planet,” he told the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “You want to see somebody you’d never meet in ordinary life, for a start. You want to see a being from somewhere else, who comes to your planet, f—s you up and goes away again.
“That’s the idea with rock & roll. It should be amazing from start to finish and not ordinary.”
The group’s music never produced exorbitant record sales, but did garner a cult following and influence other musicians. Members of the rock family posted their condolences on social media:
Lost one of my best friends, Lemmy, today. He will be sadly missed. He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.
— Ozzy Osbourne (@OzzyOsbourne) December 29, 2015
Oh my. Lemmy got let in on the big secret. One of the greatest rockers of all time. Amazingly unique incredible bass player. My hero. Wow.
— Flea (@flea333) December 29, 2015
Lemmy RIP….@myMotorhead my condolences to his family..
— Billy Idol (@BillyIdol) December 29, 2015
— Dave Navarro (@DaveNavarro) December 29, 2015
A sad day. Thanks for the songs and memories. We lost an original today. RIP Lemmy Kilmister.
— Nickelback (@Nickelback) December 29, 2015
My dear friend, Lemmy, passed away today. I’ve known him for 38 years. He will be so missed but he will never be forgotten.
— Sharon Osbourne (@MrsSOsbourne) December 29, 2015
RIP #Lemmy heaven is Rockin tonight
— Joey Kramer (@joeykramer) December 29, 2015
Very sad to hear of Lemmy’s passing. We’ve lost a true, true legend. RIP pic.twitter.com/vVVckaeZXM
— Geezer Butler (@GZRMusic) December 29, 2015
Lemmy — Motorhead What else can I say?
— Krist Novoselić (@KristNovoselic) December 29, 2015