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Why Lemmy and Motorhead didn't play in Belfast for 20 years

By Cate McCurry

Published 30/12/2015

Lemmy during the 2004 Ulster Hall gig
Lemmy during the 2004 Ulster Hall gig
Motorhead singer Lemmy, who has died at 70. Lewis Stickley/PA Wire
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy Kilmister
Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
A Motorhead fan had to be treated for a blood clot on the brain after headbanging at one of their concerts, German doctors reported
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister
Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister

Heavy metal band Motörhead refused to play concerts in Northern Ireland for almost 20 years over fears their guitarist, a former soldier who had served here, would be targeted by republicans.

When former corporal Michael Burston joined the band in 1984 and until he left in 1995, the rock legends decided it was too risky to play in the city, frontman Lemmy, who passed away yesterday, recently revealed in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph.

The band did not play the city again after he left until 2001. Burston, who was nicknamed Worzel Gummidge in the Army because of his scarecrow-style hair, served here before joining the band.

Lemmy changed the spelling of his name to Wurzel as he felt it was more rock and roll.

Prior to that, the band made several appearances in Belfast in their original line-up including Lemmy, as well as drummer Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor and guitarist 'Fast' Eddie Clarke.

Lemmy died just days after celebrating his 70th birthday following a short battle with an "extremely aggressive cancer" and had only received the shock diagnosis on Boxing Day.

Thousands of tributes have been paid to the rock star, whose real name was Ian Kilmister.

The last surviving member of the band, Eddie Clarke, led tributes to Lemmy. He wrote on Facebook: "I have just been told that Lemmy has passed away in LA. Like Phil, he was like a brother to me. I am devastated. We did so much together, the three of us.

"The world seems a really empty place right now. I am having trouble finding the words... he will live on in our hearts."

A post on the band's Facebook page, which was also shared by the band's current drummer, Mikkey 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 [a bar].

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

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in 2009, Lemmy was questioned about the band's decision not to play in Belfast for much of the '80s and '90s.

As he explained, there was a valid reason: "Wurzel got posted to Belfast when he was in the Army. We just didn't want to risk it, you know? There are some nutters out there."

The band visited the city for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2001 on the We Are Motörhead tour and returned in 2004 for the Inferno album tour.

The Grammy-award winners are perhaps best known for their single Ace Of Spades.

Lemmy also played in the psychedelic band Hawkwind from 1971 until 1975.

Belfast Telegraph

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