In '71, Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) joined the British band Hawkwind. Four years later while on a North American tour, Lemmy got busted (wrongly) for drug possession and spent five days in jail. Upon his release he was dumped from Hawkwind. No one has heard anything from Hawkwind since (or before for that matter) but Lemmy returned to the UK and started a new group. It was named after the last song he wrote for Hawkwind, "Motorhead."
The initial line-up failed to gel so it was back to the drawing board with "Fast" Eddie Clarke on guitar and drummer Phil Taylor. Clarke would be the first to hit the road and was replaced by Brian Robertson, then Mick Burston. Taylor didn't go the distance either with Pete Gill, taking over, then Tommy Aldridge and finally Mikkey Dee in '91. But through it all Lemmy, as singer and bassist, was the main draw.
Motorhead's "No Remorse" in '81 was the perfect example of the band's all-out, no compromise, Heavy Metal attack. "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith," with live performances of some of Motorhead's best material, including "Ace Of Spades" and "Overkill" was another standout.
In the '90s, Motorhead released an album every couple of years. Those efforts failed to chart on the Billboard 200. But Motorhead was able to maintain a European presence - especially in Germany and Sweden.
For '96 release "Overnight Sensation" the group, who had operated as a quartet (two guitars), paired down to a trio with Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell, who joined in '84, and Dee. According to one count that was the 11th line-up change the group had gone through.
Following the '00 release "We Are Motorhead," the group left their long time label CMC for Steamhammer. Their first album for the German imprint was '02's "Hammered."
'04's "Inferno," the group's best effort in years, ended Motorhead's U.K. chart drought (but just barely) while "Kiss Of Death" (great album title, especially for Motorhead), issued two years later, did okay in the group's homeland but scored a major success in the U.S. Next up was '08 album "Motorized."
"The World Is Yours," Motorhead's 20th studio album, dropped in '11. Prior to the set's release, the group embarked on a 35th Anniversary UK tour.
The DVDs The World Is Ours - Vol. 1: Everywhere Further Than Everyplace Else and The World Is Ours - Vol. 2 - Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else illustrated the group's live chops.
After decades of recording and touring, was the end in sight? An interviewer asked Lemmy that question in '12 and got the definitive answer.
"We put out an album out every two years," explained Lemmy. "I will continue to do that as long as I can afford an amp." To prove the point, Motorhead unfurled "Aftershock" in '13.
The album was recorded at RG Studios in North Hollywood with longtime producer Cameron Webb. "Steal it if you must, buy it if you can!" advised Lemmy. Campbell took a more reasoned tone. "I really think the variation on the album shows that we've dug deep and produced some of our best work for a long time."
They also received the 2013 Golden God Award in recognition of their contributions to Rock and Metal. "It's awesome to be headlining our first ever awards show," Motorhead said in a statement. "It's an honor to play some kick-ass Rock 'n' Roll at the Golden Gods Awards.
"Aftershock" debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 selling 11,000 copies in its first week. It was the group's highest charting debut.
Returning to RG Studios with long-time producer Cameron Webb, Motorhead unfurled there 22nd studio effort, "Bad Magic," right on schedule, in '15. The set included a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil."
However, the supporting tour go derailed. Kilmister stopped the band's show in Austin. "I can't do it," he told the audience. Unable to continue he led bandmates off stage. It was the second show in a week that was cut short. Subsequently, the tour was put on hold.
Within months, Kilmister died (12/28/15), just two days after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and four days after his 70th birthday.
"Today we lost the greatest badass in the history of Rock 'n Roll," said one-time temporary Motorhead drummer Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses). "He was a man who lived his life with no apologies and lived the dream of a life on the road playing to thousands of fans worldwide."
"Clean Your Clock," arriving in '16, was a live set recorded in Munich the previous November on what turned out to be the band's final trek.
1980 Ace Of Spades
1982 Iron Fist
1983 Another Perfect Day
1987 Rock 'n' Roll
1992 March Or Die
1996 Overnight Sensation
1998 Snake Bite Love
2000 We Are Motorhead
2006 Kiss Of Death
2010 The World Is Yours
2015 Bad Magic
2016 Clean Your Clock (live)
Motorhead is the ultimate power trio - guitar, drums and Lemmy.
Blast 'em. Motorhead rips through chord progressions with a vengeance or they mercilessly hammer a single chord with an unmatched ferocity. So it's little wonder they have gone through so many guitarists - they (and their guitars) simply wear out. The same is apparently true of drummers. Obviously, Lemmy is made of stronger stuff.
Motorhead hit the '70s hard and even managed to do some damage in the '80s. "No Remorse" is the best place to start. "Motorhead" and "Overkill" are next. Motorhead's live work demands attention. Fired up by an audience they jacked beyond measure "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith" Rocks. Moving into the late '80s and '90s Motorhead continues to release CDs but nothing could compare with the efforts already listed. "Orgasmatron," issued in '86, was the last great gasp for the decade.