History & BiographyThe band was formed as Bastards in 1975 by experienced musician and roadie, vocalist and bassist Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister who had often been a guitarist. He would occasionally contribute guitars in the future such as on the song Limb From Limb. The man was in bands such as The Rainmakers and Motown Sect in the ‘60s. Lemmy’s The Rocking Vickers – interestingly, Lemmy’s father had been a vicar - had been an early band playing behind the Iron Curtain in Yugoslavia. The band was somewhat successful in the north of England. Lemmy’s first contribution to a full-length album was on a record by Malaysian musician Sam Gopal. Lemmy was credited as Ian Willis, which was his stepfather’s surname. Soon Lemmy was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix where he was acquainted with more extreme sounds. His work for Hendrix was in the UK and for a limited time only. To begin the ‘70s Ian was in British progressive acid rock band Hawkwind where he was forced to pick up the bass because that was the vacant slot. He was first heard on Hawkwind’s Doremi Fasol Latido of 1972. Hawkwind’s most famous song, Silver Machine, features Lemmy. He was fired in 1975 for being arrested for drugs possession at the Canadian border. Ironically, his next band would be very much about drugs, sex, rock and roll and anti-politics. He recruited Larry Wallis and Lucas Fox (ex-Shagrat and Lancaster) to form Bastard, which within two years evolved into Motörhead. Wallis was in Pink Fairies, which often played with Hawkwind. Lemmy’s replacement in Hawkwind was also from Pink Fairies. The monicker was changed as the band’s manager informed Lemmy that he would never appear on Top Of The Pops, or any TV program, as Bastard. The new monicker was a reference to the use of the drug amphetamine or speed. The band was named after the last Hawkwind song Kilmister had co-penned. Versions of the song feature Lemmy singing while others feature Dave Brock on the microphone. The track was a 7” B-side. Correspondingly, the new band’s first single was White Line Fever! Doug Smith who managed Hawkwind also managed Lemmy and his new band until the late ‘80s.
The band’s first show was opening for the progressive rock band Greenslade at The Roundhouse in London on 20 July, 1975 where it covered Hawkwind among others. The band was Motorhead without the umlauts. Soon the band was supporting American heavy rock act Blue Öyster Cult with whom it shared umlauts. Doug Smith remembers that the band played an earlier show in London three days earlier. Lucas Fox was fired in 1975 mid-recording with rumour attributing the split to his playing style. Fox would go on to work at Midem industry event. Philthy Animal was ushered in. Lemmy met Philthy at a pub in London and soon had his new drummer re-recording over Fox’s work. The only original drum work ending up on the album was the Hawkwind track, Lost Johnny. The group had recorded On Parole, but United Artists (mainly a film studio, but also Hawkwind’s label) refused to issue it. That decision would be reversed four years later thanks to the London-based band’s success. Coincidentally, the situation would be reversed when Hawkwind would sign with Bronze Motörhead’s label several years later. Next to be recruited was Eddie Clarke. Fast Eddie was a day labourer alongside Philthy and was introduced to Lemmy by the latter. Larry Wallis would leave and the band would be back to having a sole guitarist after all. This formation would be responsible for the group’s highest regarded albums. The self-titled album was meant to be a single that became a full-length after the band kept recording during a studio session. The first album was only completed because of Hawkwind tracks. The band toured with The Count Bishops.
Jimmy Miller, who had recorded with the Rolling Stones in the early ‘70s, produced 1979’s Overkill. The band was on Bronze Records now, which had signed the band after receiving and releasing a single first. That single, a cover version of Louie Louie, was successful and hit the UK Charts. Ironically, the press and listeners derided the group. The band landed in jail after some selective destruction at a Finnish festival. 1979’s Bomber is considered the band’s classic album although it was not at first. The title was inspired by a Len Deighton novel. The band toured with Saxon as openers. The group’s debut would, nonetheless, chart in the UK and the band would tour the country supporting none other than Hawkwind. As mentioned, the group’s first product for Bronze Records was the cover version of the song Louie Louie. The group would never stop covering songs. Motörhead headlined a show called Heavy Metal Barn Dance, which was a NWOBHM extravaganza. Also playing were Saxon, Girlschool, Angel Witch, White Spirt, Vardis and Mythra. The band played at Reading Festival. Ace Of Spades lands at number 4 in the charts. This album is considered a classic by many. It was also the band’s first release in the USA. Philthy breaks his neck during some horseplay with an Irish fan who was helping the band load equipment in Belfast. The band had more commercial success in 1981 with the release of St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP, in collaboration with Girlschool, which reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart. The monicker HeadGirl was used. Earlier, Girlschool had toured in support of Motörhead for the Overkill tour (Girlschool was now managed by Motörhead's manager Doug Smith) and had used the friendship and connection to sign to Bronze Records. The Girlschool collaboration materialized during Philthy’s recuperation. The group opened for Ozzy Osbourne in the USA on the Blizzard Of Oz tour. This was the band’s first foray there and the summer of 1981. Mountain was also on the bill. Brian Robertson was snatched from the road in Canada and recruited on contract. Iron Fist was reluctantly produced by Fast Eddie who had earlier produced a Tank album. The label and band couldn’t afford anyone else and were also tired of Vic Maile, who had produced The Ace Of Spades and the producer’s vanishing acts. Maile, who had worked with Hawkwind, had recorded some demos for the new album, but by now Philthy hated him and his own new kit’s drum sound. Ironically, Eddie Clarke would leave in 1982 objecting to Lemmy and the band covering country music song Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette with Wendy O Williams of Plasmatics, a trend that Lemmy would continue for years. Clarke had refused to play on the track that was being recorded in Toronto, Canada. He would form Fastway after leaving the band almost the same day as the said recordings. Eddie would attempt to cool down and continue, but Lemmy already had the replacement in mind. The band was heard on the soundtrack to the film She in 1982. Another Perfect Day is recorded. The band toured the USA and headed to Japan for the first time. Robertson would not last due to his image, which is said to have included satin shorts and ballet shoes. He had reportedly also refused to play several band staples. Lemmy would take the band to a two-guitar formation with Phil Campbell and Mick "Würzel" Burston after being undecided between the two. Phil Campbell would tell a documentary that he had first met Lemmy when the guitarist was a 12-year-old fan. A compilation album called No Remorse featured several new tracks. This ended the contract with Bronze. The band had recorded its successful Another Perfect Day, but Phil Taylor would decamp to Robertson’s band, Operator. Problems with Bronze kept the band away from the studio for a while. Former Saxon man Pete Gill was in. The man would not last and Motörhead would see the return of Taylor. In 1987, the band appeared in the Eat The Rich film. The makers of The Young Ones, had used the band and Lemmy in their serial before, and invited him unto their movie. Taylor would definitively leave again in 1992 during the recording of March Ör Die. His chops were questioned. Philthy would recall his frustration at Lemmy’s dictatorial tendencies, how Lemmy had wasted money on unused art and a Japanese show, which was the first of the tour and Lemmy refusing to play due to being upset at the merchandise. It was later revealed that Pete Gill left in 1983 whilst the band was recording Eat The Rich and there was a misunderstanding over a taxi in which Lemmy was waiting. Lemmy was in it and other members also waiting for it, albeit inside, resulting in a blow-up and that was that! The band launched a lawsuit against GWR and having gotten its release had signed with major label Epic Records. Former Black Oak Arkansas drummer Tommy Aldridge was recruited for the 1992 album, but King Diamond’s Mickey Dee would be the permanent replacement. The drummer could be heard on the track Hellraiser, which was co-written by Ozzy Osbourne and his guitarist Zakk Wylde. The track was earlier released on Ozzy’s album, No More Tears. The Motörhead version was heard in the film Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth. The band toured with Morbid Angel and Black Sabbath. Würzel left in 1995 and died in 2011. At the time of his death, he was trying to get a band called Leader Of Down up and running.
The band’s 25th anniversary album, We Are Motörhead, was issued in May and would include a cover version of the Sex Pistols’ song God Save The Queen. The song’s video featured Lemmy on a double decker touring London. Following a one-off anniversary gig with Motörhead, Fast Eddie Clark was looking for musicians in 2000 in order to unveil a new studio album. Motörhead cancelled a series of European shows in 2001 in support of the band's 25th anniversary following advice from Lemmy's doctor that he get 4 weeks of rest to recover from exhaustion and the flu.
The band announced a tour with Heaven And Hell, Judas Priest and Testament. In 2007, the band played in both Venezuela and Brazil. The band played at the Download Festival the year after. The band picked Motorizer as the title for its new album, which was out in September through SPV Records. In late 2013 to early 2014, the band cancelled shows and a tour with Saxon due to Lemmy’s health problems. Nonetheless, in March 2014, Motörhead announced that two other bands, namely Megadeth and Anthrax, would join it from the 22nd to 26th of September 2014 at the first annual Motörhead's Motörboat cruise. Amazingly, Bad Magic was released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the band. The album’s cover depicts XXXX as well. Lemmy would again miss many shows due to illness. Former drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor died a year after suffering from a brain aneurysm on Wednesday, November 11th of 2016 at the age of 61. He was with the band beginning its debut album until definitively leaving in 1992. Motörhead was forced to cancel late November concerts in Germany after the band's guitarist Phil Campbell "suddenly required hospitalization." Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, the 70-year-old founding singer and bassist, died in late December 2015. After suffering from various ailments and either cancelling or cutting short concerts in 2015 the man was eventually diagnosed with cancer and died two days after the news on December 28th. He had been given two to six months to live. The group obviously disbanded. Motörhead's most successful song, the title track to 1980’s Ace Of Spades album, re-entered the U.K. Top 20 following Lemmy Kilmister death from cancer. A group of fans had coordinated the purchase of the song. The band’s last drummer Mikkey Dee joined an incarnation of Thin Lizzy. Chris Fehn of Slipknot has recorded drums for Phil Campbell's solo album. Other guests were Judas Priest singer Rob Halford and Ugly Kid Joe singer Whitfield Crane. Motörhead's November 20 and November 21st, 2015 concerts at the Zenith in Munich, Germany were released in May 2016 through UDR as the Clean Your Clock CD and video. Lemmy Kilmister was honoured by the German postal service through a collection of stamps. Former member Mikkey Dee was named as a permanent replacement for Scorpions' drummer James Kottak who had been on alcohol rehabilitation. Leader Lemmy was dead, but business needed to continue and so something called Global Merchandising Services contracted something called Camerons Brewery to create a Road Crew beer named after a Motörhead song. A number of cover versions recorded by the band Was compiled and issued as Under Cöver by Silver Lining Music to cash in on the band. The material was already released elsewhere. Former guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke died on January 10th 2018 after a bout of pneumonia. He was 67 years old. Original guitarist Larry Wallis died in September 2019. He was 70. Silver Lining Music released Louder Than Noise… Live In Berlin on CD with bonus DVD in April 2021. The recording was taken from a 2012 performance. Mikkey Dee would play at a Tribute To Motörhead concert at Mellby Horsepower in Laholm, Sweden on 23.07.2022. The show was to feature several surprise guests playing Motörhead songs. Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons, featuring Motörhead guitarist Phil Campbell and his sons Todd, Dane and Tyla, were conducting a U.K. tour where they would play Motörhead songs in May 2022. The act’s final album from 2015, Bad Magic, was re-released in February 2023 as Bad Magic: Seriously Bad Magic. This edition added an interview, unreleased tracks Bullet In Your Brain and Greedy Bastards and live recording from Mt Fuji Festival in Japan from 2015. Lemmy Forever commemorated the man at Wacken in 2023 with a float and a parade to Lemmy's Bar where more of the man's ashes were placed in an urn and fans treated to a display of his equipment. Phil and Mikkey joined Doro on stage that night while drones formed images of the man overhead. In what is sure to not be the last of them BMG issued another live record. This one was called Live At Montreux Jazz Festival '07. Jesterhead, In Flames' mascot, joined Motorhead’s Snaggletooth and Anthrax’s Not Man in Iron Maiden’s Legacy Of The Beast mobile game in 2023.
Motörhead has fans in the hard rock, heavy metal and punk rock scenes. The band’s mascot was one Snaggletooth (also known as Bastard), which was illustrated by artist Joe Petagno. The band was prolific with live albums, videos and singles and more recently had its main man more and more interested in less heavy and more commercial music styles and projects. The Head Cat side-project was a rockabilly act staffed by Lemmy, drummer Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats and guitarist Danny B. Harvey of Lonesome Spurs and The Rockats.
The band projected an outsider image, but sold over fifteen million albums. The band had more recently become hip with age and also issued merchandise like condoms to further make money. Following the commercial moves of other bands Motörhead too had its own beer in 2015, Imperial Pale Lager. The band was often covered and has been the subject of tribute albums. Lemmy liked Nazi paraphernalia and imagery, but denied a Nazi link. Lemmy has instead insisted that bad guys always have the better image. He was a collector of Nazi memorabilia. The band’s first show came with an intro that was culled from a speech Hitler had given. Morbid Angel singer and bassist David Vincent had apparently approached Lemmy in this regard, but was rebuffed.
MOTÖRHEAD - OVERKILL - SANCTUARY/EMI
Overkill is the best of the early Motörhead albums. The album features several enduring cuts as well as an inventive and harder sound. The album’s opening song is the powerful title track which must have generated enough power upon release to inspire three-dozen bands at least. Stay Clean is next and thrashes hard with a sound based on a bass guitar on overdrive. Feel the power as Lemmy’s bass manoeuvres in turbo mode. (I Won’t) Pay Your Price has guitar flourishes galore. The same is true for Capricorn. No Class takes the piss out of the band’s image and critics, while Metropolis is infectious and heavy at the same time. The beauty of Overkill is its viciousness. It is memorable, yet uncompromising. As Lemmy says, this is Motörhead being a blues band at 1,000kph.
This version of the album comes with a second bonus track featuring b-sides of singles, alternate versions, three songs from a John Peel session and 7 songs from a 1979 concert. The extras are nice, but Overkill on its own is close, if not quite, the best ”˜head album. - Ali “The Metallian”
MOTÖRHEAD - BOMBER - SANCTUATRY/EMI
The Motörhead catalogue has been issued, re-issued, repackaged and passed on from one label to another so many times that surely one more is going to make no difference. Bomber has been pressed several different ways, been re-issued with bonus live songs, been part of a disc set and here been issued by Sanctuary complete with a second disc featuring the aforementioned live songs and several alternate versions and tracks originally meant as singles. The album sits in my collection as a limited edition green LP from France!
Bomber is something of an enigma in itself. Released in 1979 by Bronze Records the album climbed up the charts as Motörhead was apt to do those days in Europe and has become the band’s seminal record. There surely is nothing wrong with this album... except its first half! While songs like Bomber, Stone Dead Forever and Poison rock like only Lemmy and company could, songs like Dead Men Tell No Tales, Lawman and Sweet Revenge are sub-par and even lacklustre. Step Down is more earthy and a product of the '70s heavy rock scene and less punky than ”˜head of yore. Eddie Clarke takes over the vocals on the song. Lawman and Sweet Revenge need a tempo lift and so forth, but Lemmy must have known better. The album’s cover plane became the band’s stage prop of many years and the LP itself began with Lemmy’s line, “this is it.” The man obviously is wise.
The bonus material is interesting. The live material (Dead Men Tell No tales, Step Down, Leaving Here, etc.) speaks for itself. More interesting is the band’s b-side Over The Top and alternate versions of Bomber (listen to the vocals!), Stone Dead Forever and so on.
If nothing else the album’s fifth song went on to inspire the '80s biggest glam band... - Ali “The Metallian”
MOTÖRHEAD - ACE OF SPADES - SANCTUARY/EMI
This edition of Ace Of Spades is one of the several titles re-issued by Sanctuary of Motörhead’s Bronze Records’ catalogue. Originally issued in 1980, Ace Of Spades is one of the quintessential 'head albums, if you will forgive the grammatical faux pas.
Ace Of Spades has gone down heavy metal history for its vicious infectious title track, although what it really should be known as is the hardest album ever featuring songs about a bunch of women of dubious repute. Song after song describes gambling, boozing and loving women not exactly deemed as classy by society. Like all other Motörhead albums Ace features sub-par songs, Fire Fire, Shoot You In The Back or Dance, but it is the aces, which totally make up for any weakness. Aside from the title track which acts as the harbinger of thrash metal Jailbait is a rabble-rouser that almost matches the title track, while Love Me Like A Reptile rocks and has toms that rattle like a snake. The Chase Is Better Than The Catch plays it cool and slows down mid-song for some groove. The Hammer is probably best described as punk crossover. No matter the title, the songs packs an impressive array of bass guitar sounds and rhythms.
This version comes with a second disc complete with 15 tracks featuring what the description calls “alternatiuve version” probably meaning 'alternate version.' It is interesting to hear songs like Ace Of Spades, Love Me Like A Reptile or Dirty Love with different arrangements. Four of the songs are culled from the band’s BBC radio session with a David Jensen. - Ali “The Metallian”
MOTÖRHEAD - IRON FIST - SANCTUARY/EMI
"You know me, prepare to die"... Ah, good old reliable Motörhead. Iron Fist, originally bashed together in 1982, is a quintessential 'head effort from the Lemmy/Clarke/Taylor line-up. The band’s proto-thrash ramblings rumble, the bass thunders, the quirky guitar wails and cringes and the drums roar in what is, and must have been even more so back then, no incidental explosion.
The band’s line-up here would not last, but songs like Iron Fist, Heart Of Stone, Speedfreak and (Don’t Need) Religion will not be forgotten. The band’s no holds barred attitude is perhaps best encapsulated in the song (Don’t Let 'Em) Grind Ya Down. Although, the sheer attitude and vigour of Go To Hell is no slouch either. This version comes with a second disc featuring rare b-side and live tracks recorded in Toronto. There are a total of fifteen extra tracks on this particular version. Motörhead certainly adhered to its own preachings and has kept motoring ahead. Thank goodness. - Ali “The Metallian”
MOTÖRHEAD - OVERNIGHT SENSATION - CMC
Lemmy and his assorted band of cohorts have been on the path of thrash and bash for over twenty years. Having come to symbolise unwavering persistence, the 'head seemed to drive into a slight off-ramp at the beginning of the decade via a couple of major label releases like 1916. But believe me, the band is back cruising the highway again. It is no accident that the album kicks off with the line "White noise is coming." This is the real thing. Lemmy might be over fifty years old, but he is the slap in the face of those who believe metal is dead. Civil War and Crazy Like a Fox are 'head style kicks in the teeth - almost as heavy as Shine from thirteen years ago. I Don't Believe a Word is a ballad-esque song. Lemmy's bass quakes on the title track to exacted distortion. Love Can't Buy You Money and Listen to Your Heart have the street sound you expect from Guns' N Roses. Overnight Sensation then, is nothing short of a great collection of heavy metal songs and whether for pure joy of metal or for blasting in the car or at home with friends, this one constitutes a safe bet. - Ali "The Metallian"
MOTÖRHEAD - EVERYTHING LOUDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE - CMC/ BMG
Many consider Black Sabbath to be the archetypal heavy metal, many others believe Led Zeppelin to be deserving of the title. Some call Judas Priest the masters of metal, while others swear by Iron Maiden. While all the aforementioned are well and truly deserving of the accolades, my heart has always had a soft spot for the 'head'. No matter how many times referred to as Rock' n Roll, Motörhead has truly been the symbol for uncompromising metal music, metal life style and metal attitude. Amidst thick and thin, major and independent label, success ( a British number one album in the form of No Sleep 'til Hammersmith ) and indifference (their earliest label would not even release their already-recorded LP), Lemmy and co. have delivered consistent head bashing metal without compromise since 1977. Lemmy has weathered everything from ascending age to a change of tide against heavy metal to the disdain of politically correct lynch mob to bash it out in the unique format which can only come from his gang of roving original free spirits. While my only reservation towards the newest product of Motörhead's legacy would be the sheer abundance of 'head live and compilation albums - just the last few years have seen No Sleep at All, Live 1983 (released in '91), Live at the Brixton Academy, etc - it would be far from The Metallian to criticize an album of so much great material. Everything from the classics like Overkill and Iron Fist, to the newer soon-to-be-classics like Civil War and Overnight Sensation and on to the under rated cuts like Killed by Death is present on this loud piece of assault' n battery on CD. Sure, my favourite Motörhead track somehow fails to materialize (what no Shine??), but the power which is jam-packed and squeezed tight on this double CD puts bands twenty years younger to shame. No wonder we get quotes praising Motörhead in the highest terms from everyone like Tony Iommi to Bobby Blitz to Joey Ramone in the inside cover. This kicks! - Ali "The Metallian"
MOTÖRHEAD - HAMMERED - SANCTUARY
There are very few constants in life. Here are several: stupid people, piss in American 'beer', lying media, teenage girls getting signed to major labels after a molestation session (or two), and of course a hard 'n' heavy album from Lemmy and cohorts every couple of years. Let's talk about this last one. What can one say about Hammered that hasn't been said about other previous Motörhead albums? It still kicks back sides left, right and centre. Hammered is not the band's heaviest, and the vocal melodies on Walk A Crooked Mile demonstrate it; yet is more potent than ten bands whose members are one-third Lemmy's age. The guy is just so brutally honest. There are two bonus tracks here and one is a live version of Overnight Sensation. The other is a track called The Game and it has an odd and distinctly unMotörhead feel. It almost sounds throwaway! Regardless, there shall be no glory without effort and no authority without a price to pay and Lemmy's been paying for 35 years now. There is more metal in Lemmy's mole than most bands combined and while that doesn't say anything specific about Hammered you can refer to the opening of this review and stop worrying about it. It's Motörhead after all!
MOTÖRHEAD - MOTORIZER - SPV
Little can be added to the history of Motörhead after 23 albums and over three decades of churning our signature Lemmy material. Runaround Man, the opener, is a no-frills song that as always tries to capture the Ace Of Spades feel. Teach You How To Sing The Blues is lyrically much the same and musically half a gear lower. When The Eagle Screams has an out of place and short intro then moves into near four minutes of just Motörhead. Rock Out is faster paced and shorter at just over two minutes. One Short Life on the other hand is chunkier and heavier. Buried Alive, like the opener, is solid. English Rose’s “Come on down honey...Spend my money” doesn’t really work. Back On The Chain veers towards unexciting rock at times. Heroes is catchy and anthemic. Time Is Right is faster but may be too one-dimensional. The Thousand Names Of God closes Motorizer and probably offers the most variation. When Lemmy says, “We are Motörhead and we play Rock 'n' Roll” he is at his truthful and predictable best. - Anna Tergel