In 1975 Lemmy (b. Ian Kilmister, December 24, 1945, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England; vocals, bass) was sacked from Hawkwind after being detained for five days at Canadian customs on possession charges. The last song he wrote for them was entitled “Motorhead”, and, after ditching an earlier suggestion, Bastard, this became the name of the band he formed with Larry Wallis of the Pink Fairies on guitar and Lucas Fox on drums. Together they made their debut supporting Greenslade at the Roundhouse, London, in July.
Fox then left to join Warsaw Pakt, and was replaced by “Philthy” Phil Taylor (b. September 21, 1954, Chesterfield, England; drums), a casual friend of Lemmy’s with no previous professional musical experience. Motorhead was a four-piece band for less than a month, with Taylor’s friend “Fast” Eddie Clarke (b. October 5, 1950, Isleworth, Middlesex, England) of Continuous Performance as second guitarist, until Wallis returned to the Pink Fairies.
The Lemmy/Taylor/Clarke combination lasted six years until 1982, in which time they became the most famous trio in hard rock. With a following made up initially of Hell’s Angels (Lemmy had formerly lived with their president, Tramp, for whom he wrote the biker epic Iron Horse), the band made their official debut with the eponymous Motorhead/City Kids. A similarly titled debut album charted, before the group moved over to Bronze Records. Overkill and Bomber firmly established the group’s modus operandi, a fearsome barrage of instruments topped off by Lemmy’s hoarse invocations. They toured the world regularly and enjoyed hits with “Ace of Spades” (one of the definitive heavy metal performances, it graced a 1980 album of the same name that saw the band at the peak of their popularity) and the Number Five single, “Please Don’t Touch” (as Headgirl ). Their reputation as the best live band of their generation was further enhanced by the release of No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith, which entered the UK charts at Number One.
In May 1982 Clarke left, citing musical differences, and was replaced by Brian Robertson (b. September 12, 1956, Glasgow, Scotland), who had previously played with Thin Lizzy and Wild Horses. This combination released Another Perfect Day, but this proved to be easily the least popular of all Motorhead line-ups. Robertson was replaced in November 1983 by Wurzel (b. Michael Burston, October 23, 1949, Cheltenham, England; guitar) - so-called on account of his scarecrow-like hair - and Philip Campbell (b. May 7, 1961, Pontypridd, Wales; guitar, ex-Persian Risk ), thereby swelling the Motorhead ranks to four. Two months later and, after a final appearance on television’s The Young Ones, Taylor left to join Robertson in Operator, and was replaced by ex-Saxon drummer Pete Gill, who remained with the band until 1987.
By 1987 Phil Taylor had rejoined Motorhead, and the line-up remained unchanged for five years, during which time Lemmy made his acting debut in the Comic Strip film, Eat The Rich, followed by other celluloid appearances including the role of a taxi driver in Hardware. In 1991 the group signed to Epic Records, releasing the acclaimed 1916. The following year’s March or Die featured the American Mikkey Dee (ex-King Diamond) on drums and guest appearances by Ozzy Osbourne and Slash (Guns N’ Roses). The title track revealed a highly sensitive side to Lemmy’s lyrical and vocal scope in the way it dealt with the horrors of war. His idiosyncratic singing style, usually half-growl, half-shout, and with his neck craned up at 45 degrees to the microphone, remained in place. On a more traditional footing they performed the theme song to the horror film Hellraiser 3, and convinced the film’s creator, Clive Barker, to record his first promotional video with the band. Lemmy also hammed his way through insurance adverts, taking great delight in his press image of the unreconstructed rocker. Wurzel left the band and formed Wvkeaf in 1996. Now recording as a trio, the band released their nineteenth album (Snake Bite Love) in 1998.
In the ‘90s, Motorhead concentrated on touring more than recording. Outside of the band, Lemmy appeared in insurance commercials in Britain, acted in Hellraiser 3 and had a movie cameo. In 1997, the group moved to the metal-oriented Indie label, Receiver, and released Stone Dead Forever; the live Everything Louder Than Everyone Else followed in 1999, and a year later they returned with We Are Motorhead. Hammered appeared in 2002 and was followed by 2004’s Inferno. In 2005 the Sanctuary label reissued some of the band’s classic albums (Overkill, Ace of Spades, and Iron Fist) in two-CD deluxe editions. A collection of all-new material, Kiss of Death, arrived in 2006.
Motorhead has chosen now, in what might be some of the most tense times in recent global history, to release a hell-raising, rebel-rousing rock ‘n’ roll statement known as The World is Yours (2010). Written and performed by Lemmy Kilmister, Philip Campbell and Mikkey Dee in both Los Angeles, California, and Wales, with production once again by Cameron Webb, The World is Yours serves to remind everyone that you should never stop questioning or critiquing a society that would surely chew you up and spit you if given half a chance.
And with ten soul-scorching testaments to the unbridled power this world-famous trio continually maintain, The World is Yours delivers some of the finest, most important Motormusic yet. With the defiant, uproarious Rock ‘n’ Roll Music, Kilmister and company remind everyone that “rock’n’roll music is the true religion” and “rock ‘n’ roll even gonna set you free, make the lame walk and the blind see”. With The World is Yours, the band has triumphed over adversity to produce an absolute stormer in this, their 35th year as THE greatest, loudest and just plain coolest band around.