LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, the Motorhead frontman whose outsized persona made him a hero for generations of hard-rockers and metal-heads, has died. He was 70.
Agent Andrew Goodfriend tells The Associated Press that Kilmister died on Monday in Los Angeles after a brief battle with aggressive cancer.
Known simply as “Lemmy” to most, he was as famous for his mustache, mutton chops and the mole on his face as he was for his music.
But he was deeply respected and revered as a rock master and innovator, from his time with the seminal psychedelic band Hawkwind in the early 1970s to his four decades in Motorhead, best known for their 1980 anthem “Ace of Spades.”
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The band announced Kilmister’s death on its Facebook page, describing him as “our mighty, noble friend” and urging fans to “…play Motörhead 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.”
Born on Christmas Eve, 1945, in Staffordshire, England, Kilmister founded Motorhead in 1975. Its bassist and lead singer ever since, Kilmister was royalty even among fellow rockers.
Ozzy Osbourne called him “one of my best friends.”
“He will be sadly missed,” Osbourne wrote on Twitter late Monday. “He was a warrior and a legend. I will see you on the other side.”
Tall and lanky, with his distinct look, “Lemmy” lived rock music — he was a regular at Sunset Strip rocker hangout The Rainbow and never stopped recording and performing. And he wasn’t just culturally revered, he was critically acclaimed: Motorhead won a Grammy for 2004’s best metal performance.
Kilmister had suffered numerous health issues in recent months. According to the band’s statement, he learned of his cancer diagnosis just two days before his death.
AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen contributed to this story.