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Motorhead's Lemmy died two days after 'aggressive cancer' diagnosis

Published 29/12/2015

Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister has died at the age of 70 (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy, frontman of rock band Motorhead, has died just two days after being diagnosed with "extremely aggressive cancer".

The rocker, real name Ian Kilmister, had received the shock diagnosis on Boxing Day only days after celebrating his 70th birthday. He died at his home in Los Angeles.

Todd Singerman, the band's manager, told the BBC that Lemmy's cancer was "in his brain and neck".

The legendary hell-raiser, most famous for the song Ace of Spades, looked gaunt at a 70th birthday celebration in mid-December in a picture posted by rock singer Sebastian Bach.

The death of the Stoke-born bass player and singer comes little more than a month since that of the band's first drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor. Lemmy himself led tributes to the 61-year-old rocker, who died on November 11.

The last surviving member of the classic Motorhead line-up, ex-guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke, led tributes.

Eddie, who played with the heavy metal group between 1976 to 1982, said on Facebook: " Like Phil, he was like a brother to me. I am devastated. We did so much together, the three of us."

American rock star Alice Cooper described Lemmy as "one of the most beloved characters in rock 'n' roll".

In a statement he said: "I can't think of anyone who didn't adore Lemmy; you can't say 'heavy metal' without mentioning Lemmy.

"If you're a 13 year old kid learning to play bass, you want to play like Lemmy. He was one of a kind.

"And I will personally miss seeing him out on the road. We did many shows together and we looked forward to it every time we were touring with Motorhead. Rock'n roll heaven just got heavier."

Motorhead - which consisted of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee - was due to tour the UK and Europe in early 2016, including performances at the end of January at the Eventim Apollo in London's Hammersmith, subject of the band's famous live album No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith in 1981.

A post on the band's Facebook page, which was also shared by the band's current drummer Dee, said: "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.

"He had learnt of the disease on December 26, and was at home, sitting in front of his favourite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made its way down the street, with his family.

"We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren't words.

"We will say more in the coming days, but for now, please ... play Motorhead 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. HE WOULD WANT EXACTLY THAT."

Singerman told the BBC that Lemmy was " one of the last true rock stars left, this guy lived it every day".

The rock music world reacted with shock at the news.

Ozzy Osbourne, of Black Sabbath fame, tweeted: "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."

Kiss star Gene Simmons said: "Lemmy: Rest In Peace. Shake the heavens, my friend."

Queen guitarist Brian May said: "Sitting here, Re-Tweeting, distracted, and wondering what I can possibly say about our utterly unique friend Lemmy's passing. Ouch."

Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan added: "Rest In Peace Lemmy. A hell of a man who suffered no fools. U shall be missed brother, and, THANK u 4 the years of unwavering kick ass R&R."

Lemmy, who was born in Stoke-on-Trent on Christmas Eve 1945, founded Motorhead in 1975 after being fired from previous band Hawkwind.

According to the band's website, his exit followed his arrest at the Canadian border for possessing cocaine, causing the band to cancel some of a US tour.

The Grammy-award winners are perhaps best known for their single Ace Of Spades, while the fanged face that appears on their album artwork has become one of rock's most recognisable figures.

It took several years for the band to break into popular consciousness, which came when they achieved critical acclaim with the 1980 Ace Of Spades album. It reached number four in the UK charts.

The band recently celebrated their 40th year by releasing their 22nd studio album, Bad Magic, and were set to play dates in the UK and Europe over the next few months as part of a world tour.

Metallica tweeted: "Lemmy, you are one of the primary reasons this band exists. We're forever grateful for all of your inspiration. RIP", while Judas Priest added: "Words about Lemmy can never be enough so we will simply say farewell Lord Lemmy thank you for the music, the shows."

The Foo Fighters tweeted: "We've lost a friend & legend. My heart is broken. RIP Lemmy. Born To Lose, Lived To Win."

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale spoke fondly of the band while talking on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC's Radio 2.

He said: "I saw Motorhead quite a number of times and they were a fantastic live band. He (Lemmy) had this reputation as a hard-living, hard-rocking character. He dressed the part. He looked the part. Long hair, sideburns, the guitar and the black leather jacket and the iron cross and the rest.

"And also they did an amazing stage show. At the end of their show, the bomber would descend from the ceiling with the sirens wailing and the flashing lights."

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