Motorhead's History (Biography)

Motörhead (pronounced /ˈmoʊtərhɛd/) are a British rock band formed in 1975 by bassist, singer and songwriter Ian Fraser Kilmister, known mostly by his stage name Lemmy, who has remained the sole constant member. The band is often considered a precursor to or one of the earliest members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Usually a power trio, Motörhead had particular success in the early 1980s with several successful singles in the UK Top 40 chart. The albums Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, and particularly No Sleep 'til Hammersmith, cemented Motörhead's reputation as one of Britain's foremost rock bands.

Official site:


Genre(s): Heavy/Speed Metal

Country: United Kingdom

Show Date: August 2, 2009

Festivals: Global East Rock Festival 2009

Added by: TNRR

Motörhead are typically classified as heavy metal, and their fusion of punk rock into the genre helped to pioneer speed metal and thrash metal. Lemmy dislikes such labels, preferring to describe the band's music simply as "rock n' roll" and usually opening live shows with the line "We are Motörhead. We play rock and roll." Motörhead's approach has remained the same over the band's career, preferring to play what they enjoy and do best; their appreciation of early rock and roll is reflected in some of their occasional cover songs. Motörhead's lyrics typically cover such topics as war, good versus evil, abuse of power, promiscuous sex, substance abuse, and "life on the road". The band's distinctive fanged-face logo, with its oversized boar's horns, chains, and spikes, was created by artist Joe Petagno in 1977 for the cover of the Motörhead album and has appeared in many variations on covers of ensuing albums. The fanged face has been referred to variously as "War-Pig" and "Snaggletooth". The band is ranked number 26 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.

Lemmy was fired from Hawkwind in May 1975 for, as he says, "doing the wrong drugs". He was arrested on suspicion of possessing cocaine at the Canadian border and spent five days in prison, causing the band to cancel some of their North America tour dates. Now on his own, Lemmy decided to form a new band, originally to be called 'Bastard'. Douglas Smith, the band's manager, advised him that, "It's unlikely that we're going to get on Top of the Pops with a name like Bastard". Lemmy concurred and decided to call the band Motörhead, inspired by the final song he had written for Hawkwind.

Motorhead's Current Members

  • Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister
  • Phil Campbell
  • Mikkey Dee

Lemmy's stated aim was to "concentrate on very basic music: loud, fast, city, raucous, arrogant, paranoid, speedfreak rock n roll... it will be so dirty that if we move in next door to you, your lawn will die". On the recommendation of Mick Farren, he recruited Larry Wallis (ex-Pink Fairies) on electric guitar and Lucas Fox on drums. According to Lemmy, the band's first practice was in a furniture store in Chelsea, England in 1975. Kilmister has said they used to steal equipment, as the band was short on gear. Their first gig was supporting Greenslade at The Roundhouse, London on 20 July 1975. On 19 October, having played 10 gigs, they became the supporting act to Blue Öyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon.

Motorhead's Discography

  • 1977 - Motörhead
  • 1979 - Overkill
  • 1979 - Bomber
  • 1980 - Ace of Spades
  • 1982 - Iron Fist
  • 1983 - Another Perfect Day
  • 1986 - Orgasmatron
  • 1987 - Rock 'n' Roll
  • 1991 - 1916
  • 1992 - March ör Die
  • 1993 - Bastards
  • 1995 - Sacrifice
  • 1996 - Overnight Sensation
  • 1998 - Snake Bite Love
  • 2000 - We Are Motörhead
  • 2002 - Hammered
  • 2004 - Inferno
  • 2006 - Kiss of Death
  • 2008 - Motörizer
  • 2010 - The World Is Yours

The band was contracted to United Artists by Andrew Lauder, the A&R man for the band Lemmy was previously in, Hawkwind. They recorded sessions at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth with producer Dave Edmunds, during which Fox proved to be unreliable and was replaced by drummer Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, a casual acquaintance of Lemmy's. Their record label was dissatisfied with the material and refused to release it, although it was subsequently issued as On Parole in 1979 after the band had established some success.

In February 1976, deciding that two guitarists were required, the band auditioned "Fast" Eddie Clarke. Wallis, who was continuing to tour with a reformed Pink Fairies, quit immediately after the auditions and Clarke remained as the sole guitarist. This trio of Lemmy – Clarke – Taylor is today regarded as the "classic" Motörhead line-up. In December, the band recorded the "Leaving Here" single for Stiff Records, but United Artists intervened to prevent its general release as the band were still under contract to them, despite their refusal to issue their debut album. Initial reactions to the band had been unfavourable; they won a poll for "the best worst band in the world" in the music magazine NME.

Motorhead's Setlist at Global East Rock Festival 2009 (August 2, 2009)

  1. Iron Fist
  2. Stay Clean
  3. Be My Baby
  4. Rock Out
  5. Metropolis
  6. Over the Top
  7. One Night Stand
  8. I Got Mine
  9. Guitar Solo
  10. The Thousand Names Of God
  11. Another Perfect Day
  12. In the Name of Tragedy (with Drum Solo)
  13. Just ''Cos You Got the Power
  14. Going To Brazil
  15. Killed By Death
  16. Bomber
  17. Encore:
  18. Whorehouse Blues
  19. Ace Of Spades
  20. Overkill

By April 1977, living in squats and with little recognition, Taylor and Clarke wanted to give it up, and after some debate, the band agreed to do a farewell show at the Marquee Club in London. Lemmy had become acquainted with Ted Carroll from Chiswick Records and asked him to bring a mobile studio to the show to record it for posterity. Carroll was unable to get the mobile unit to the Marquee Club but showed up backstage after the gig and offered them two days at Escape Studios with producer Speedy Keen to record a single. The band took the chance, and instead of recording a single they laid down 11 unfinished tracks. Carroll gave them a few more days at Olympic Studios to finish the vocals and the band completed 13 tracks for release as an album. Chiswick issued the single "Motorhead" in June, followed by the album Motörhead in August, which spent one week in the UK Albums Chart at number 43. The band toured the UK supporting Hawkwind in June, then from late July they commenced the 'Beyond the Threshold of Pain' tour with The Count Bishops.

In August, Tony Secunda took over the management of the band, and their cohesiveness became so unstable that by March 1978, Clarke and Taylor had formed and were gigging as The Muggers with Speedy Keen and Billy Rath.

In July 1978, the band returned to the management of Douglas Smith, who secured a one-off singles deal with Bronze Records. The resulting "Louie Louie" single was issued in September peaking at number 68 on the UK Singles Chart, and the band toured the UK to promote it, recorded a BBC Radio 1 John Peel in session on 18 September (these tracks were later issued on the 2005 BBC Live & In-Session album), and appeared for the first time on BBC Television's Top of the Pops on 25 October. Chiswick capitalised on this new level of success by re-issuing the debut album Motörhead on white vinyl through EMI Records. By this time, the standard of their performances had improved considerably, and the uncompromising nature of their music was beginning to garner a following from enthusiasts of both metal and punk.

On 8 May 1980, while the band were on tour in Europe, Bronze released The Golden Years, which sold better than any of their previous releases, reaching number eight on the UK Singles Chart. The band had, however, preferred the title Flying Tonight, in reference to the 'Bomber' lighting rig.

On 20 August, the band (40 minutes) and Girlschool (20 minutes) were filmed performing live at the Nottingham Theatre Royal for the Rockstage programme, broadcast on UK television by the ATV station on 4 April 1981.

During August and September 1980, the band were at Jackson's Studios in Rickmansworth, recording with producer Vic Maile. The "Ace of Spades" single was released on 27 October 1980 as a preview of the Ace of Spades album, which followed on 8 November. The single reached #15 and the album reached #4 on the UK charts. Bronze celebrated its gold record status by pressing a limited edition of the album in gold vinyl. Motörhead made two appearances on Top of the Pops in October that year with "Ace of Spades", and between 22 October and 29 November the band were on their 'Ace Up Your Sleeve' UK tour with support from Girlschool and Vardis, and also made an appearance as guests on the ITV children's show Tiswas on 8 November. The 'Arizona desert-style' pictures used on the album sleeve and tour booklet cover were taken during a photo session at a sandpit in Barnet. "Ace of Spades", considered to be the definitive Motörhead anthem, "put a choke on the English music charts and proved to all that a band could succeed without sacrificing its blunt power and speed". The album has been described as "one of the best metal albums by any band, ever".

Between 26 and 28 January 1982, the band started recording their self-produced new album at Ramport Studios, before moving onto Morgan Studios to continue the sessions throughout February. On 3 April the single "Iron Fist" was released, reaching #29 on the UK Singles Chart, followed by the parent album Iron Fist, released on 17 April and peaking at #6 on the UK Albums Chart. They were the last releases to feature the Lemmy, Clarke, Taylor line-up, though the line-up continued to perform in the Iron Fist UK tour between 17 March and 12 April, and the band's first headling North America tour from 12 May until Clarke's last gig at the New York Palladium on 14 May.

Clarke left as a consequence of the band recording Stand By Your Man, a cover version of the Tammy Wynette classic, in collaboration with Wendy O. Williams and the Plasmatics. Clarke felt that this compromised the band's principles, refused to play on the recording and resigned, later forming his own band, Fastway. Lemmy and Taylor made numerous telephone calls to find a guitarist, including one to Brian Robertson, formerly with Thin Lizzy, who was recording a solo album in Canada. He agreed to help out and complete the tour with them. Robertson signed a one-album deal resulting in 1983's Another Perfect Day and the two singles from it, "Shine" and "I Got Mine". In June and July the band played five dates in Japan, and from mid-October until mid-November they toured Europe. From late May until early July, the band conducted the 'Another Perfect Tour', followed by an American tour between July and August, and another European tour in October and November. Robertson began to cause friction in the band as a result of his on-stage attire, consisting of shorts and ballet shoes, and, furthermore, with his point blank refusal to play the old standards that every Motörhead audience expected to hear. This led to an amicable agreement that Robertson would leave, playing his last gig with the band at the Berlin Metropol on 11 November.

After Robertson's departure in 1983, the band were sent tapes from all over the world from potential guitarists. The group returned to the concept of dual lead guitars by hiring unknowns Würzel and Phil Campbell (ex-Persian Risk). In February 1984, the Lemmy, Campbell, Würzel and Taylor line-up recorded "Ace of Spades" for the "Bambi" episode in the British television series, The Young Ones. Scenes of the band playing are interspersed with the characters' antics as they rush to the railway station, in a parody of The Beatles' comedy film A Hard Day's Night. Taylor quit the band after that recording, causing Lemmy to quip: "Did I leave them or did they leave me?". Before joining Motörhead, Phil Campbell had met ex-Saxon drummer Pete Gill, and the trio decided to call him to see if he would like to visit London. The try-outs went well and Gill was hired.

Bronze Records thought the new line-up would not make the grade and decided to 'nail down the lid' on the group with a compilation album. When Lemmy found out, he took over the project, selecting tracks, providing sleeve notes and insisted that Motörhead record four brand new tracks to go at the end of each side of the album. During the sessions between 19 May and 25 May 1984 at Britannia Row Studios, London, the band recorded six tracks for the single's B-side and the album. The single "Killed by Death" was released on 1 September and reached #51 in the UK Singles Chart, the double album No Remorse was released on 15 September and reached silver disc status, attaining the position of #14 in the UK Album charts.

On 5 April 1985, ITV broadcast three songs that were recorded after the band went off air on their earlier appearance on The Tube programme. A week later the band, dressed in tuxedos, played three songs on the live Channel 4 music show ECT (Extra-Celestial Transmission). To celebrate the band's tenth anniversary, two shows were arranged at Hammersmith Odeon on 28 June and 29 June, a video of the second show was taken and later released as The Birthday Party. From early June until early August the band were on their 'It Never Gets Dark' tour of Sweden and Norway, an American tour followed in mid-November until late December.

From 26 March to 3 April 1986, the band toured Germany, Holland and Denmark on their 'Easter Metal Blast' and in June, played two dates in Bologna and Milan in Italy. The court case with Bronze was finally settled in the band's favour. The band's management instigated their own label, GWR. Recording took place in Master Rock Studios, London and the single "Deaf Forever" was released on 5 July as a taster for the Orgasmatron album, which was released on 9 August. On the same day as the release of the album, Lemmy and Würzel were interviewed by Andy Kershaw on the BBC Radio 1 Saturday Live show and "Orgasmatron" and "Deaf Forever" were played. The single reached #67 and the album reached #21 in the UK charts.

On 16 August, the band played at the Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington and was recorded by BBC Radio 1 for a future Friday Rock Show broadcast. The performance closed with a flyover by a couple of WW2 German aircraft. Also that day Lemmy was filmed giving his views on spoof metal act 'Bad News' for inclusion in a Peter Richardson Comic Strip film entitled 'More Bad News' since the band featuring Rik Mayall, Peter Richardson, Nigel Planer and Adrian Edmondson were also performing at Donington. In September the band conducted their 'Orgasmatron' tour in Great Britain, supported by fledgling act Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. In October they toured America and in December were in Germany.

On 28 March 1992 the band played what would turn out to be Taylor's last gig at Irvine Meadows, Irvine, California. The band had been wanting Lemmy to get rid of their manager, Doug Banker, for some time and after an unsolicited visit from Todd Singerman, who insisted he should manage them despite never having managed a band before, the band met with Singerman and decided to take him on board, firing Banker. In the midst of this, the band were recording an album at Music Grinder Studios, in the city's east part of Hollywood during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Three drummers participated in the making of the March ör Die album: Phil Taylor, who was fired because he did not learn the drum tracks on the song "I Ain't No Nice Guy"; Tommy Aldridge who recorded most of the material on the album; and Mikkey Dee, who recorded "Hellraiser", a song originally written by Lemmy for Ozzy Osbourne's No More Tears album. The March ör Die album features guest appearances by Ozzy Osbourne and Slash.

Lemmy had known Mikkey Dee from the time when King Diamond had toured with Motörhead. He had asked Dee to become Motörhead's drummer before, but Dee had declined due to his commitment to King Diamond. On this occasion, Dee was available and met the band to try out. Playing the song "Hellraiser" first, Lemmy thought "he was very good immediately. It was obvious that it was going to work." After recording "Hellraiser" and "Hell on Earth" in the studio, Dee's first gig with Motörhead was on 30 August at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The new line-up then went on tour, playing dates with Ozzy Osbourne, Skew Siskin and Exodus. On 27 September, the band played at the Los Angeles Coliseum with Metallica and Guns N' Roses. The band toured Argentina and Brazil during October and conducted the 'Bombers and Eagles in '92' tour of Europe with Saxon throughout December.

In February and March 1994, Motörhead toured the US with Black Sabbath and Morbid Angel. In April the band resumed their tour of the States until early May, playing a gig with the Ramones on 14 May at the Estadio Velez in Buenos Aires, attracting a crowd of 50,000 people. The band toured Japan in late May and Europe in June, August and December.

A tour of the USA with Dio and Speedball began with two shows (Los Angeles & Hollywood) in early October 1996 and concluded in Washington on 4 December. During this time the band had recorded Overnight Sensation, at Ocean Studio and Track House Recording Studio. The album was released on 15 October, the first official album of the band as a three-piece since Another Perfect Day and the best distributed album the band had had for years. The band concluded the year's touring with thirteen dates in Germany.

During 1997, the band toured extensively, beginning with the first leg of the Overnight Sensation tour in Europe on 12 January at the London Astoria, where the guest musicians were Todd Campbell, Phil Campbell's son, on "Ace of Spades" and Fast Eddie Clarke for "Overkill". The European leg lasted until March and was followed by four dates in Japan, from late May to 1 June, and an American tour with W.A.S.P. throughout the rest of June. In August, three dates in Europe were followed by seven dates in Britain, which ended with a show at the Brixton Academy on 25 October, where the guest musician was Paul Inder, Lemmy's son, for "Ace of Spades". A further four dates in October in Russia concluded the year 1997.

In 1999 Motörhead made a tour of the states between 20 April and 2 June, before going to Karo Studios in Brackel, Germany to record their next album, We Are Motörhead, which was released in May the following year. During the time the album sessions took place, the band played at venues around Europe, the first of which was at Fila Forum in Assago, near Milan, where Metallica's James Hetfield joined the band on-stage to play "Overkill". In October and early November, the band toured the states with Nashville Pussy. Throughout the rest of November, the band conducted their European 'Monsters Of The Millennium' tour with Manowar, Dio and Lion's Share, ending the Millennium with two shows at the London Astoria. The two shows were billed under the Kerrang! "X-Fest" banner and at the first show were supported by Backyard Babies and during the second show guest vocals were provided by Skin from Skunk Anansie and Nina C. Alice from Skew Siskin for "Born to Raise Hell", and Ace from Skunk Anansie played "Overkill" with the band.

In May 2000, the release of We Are Motörhead and the single from it, "God Save the Queen", coincided with the start of the band's 'We Are Motörhead' tour across South and North America during May and June, with a further nine shows across in Europe in July. Shows in the USA and France were followed by the release of a double-disc compilation album, The Best Of, on 12 September. Four dates in Japan preceded the band's 25th Anniversary concert on 22 October at the Brixton Academy in London, where guest appearances were made by "Fast" Eddie Clarke, Brian May, Doro Pesch, Whitfield Crane, Ace, Paul Inder and Todd Campbell. The show also featured the return of the Bomber-lighting rig. The event was filmed and released the following year as the 25 & Alive Boneshaker DVD, and the CD of the show, Live at Brixton Academy, was released two years after that. Lemmy states the reason for the DVD as wanting "to record it for the posterity or whatever it is. I nodded off through the tenth anniversary, we never did anything on the twentieth, so the twenty-fifth made sense."

A tour of West and East Europe followed the anniversary concert, taking the band through October, November and December. The schedule for the Eastern European tour was quite brutal, involving two eighteen-hour drives back-to-back and little time off, at the Warsaw venue the band did not arrive until eleven o'clock and the crew were still loading into the venue at one in the morning, while the fans waited.

From March through to June 2008, the band convened in Los Angeles with producer Cameron Webb to begin work on their 19th album Motörizer. Mikkey Dee's drum tracks were recorded at Dave Grohl's studio. Motörizer was released on 26 August. It does not feature artwork from Joe Petagno, the artist who designed many of their classic album covers.

In June 2008 the band performed at the main stage of the Download festival. Between 6 August and 31 August, Motörhead joined with Judas Priest, Heaven & Hell and Testament on the Metal Masters Tour. On 20 August the band played one date at the Roseland Ballroom, New York, as part of 'The Volcom Tour 2008' which continued with bands The Misfits, Airbourne, Valient Thorr and Year Long Disaster at House of Blues, Anaheim, California on 2 September, playing a further thirteen dates. The band concluded the tour without the supporting bands, playing one more show at the Roseland Ballroom on 20 September, and the final gig, at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, New Jersey on 21 September.

On 30 September, Reuters reported that Neverdie Studios had signed a deal with Lemmy and Motörhead to develop and market Lemmy's Castle and Motorhead Stadium inside the virtual world of Entropia Universe, an online virtual universe. The year's touring ended with a 34-date tour of Europe with a variety of support bands including Danko Jones, Saxon, Witchcraft, and Airbourne. On 6 March 2009, the band played in the Middle East for the first time, at the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival in Dubai. On 1 April Motörhead are reported to have entered into a two year sponsorship deal with UK Roller Derby team the Lincolnshire Bombers Roller Girls.

In a November 2009 interview with ABORT Magazine's E.S. Day, Lemmy stated that Motörhead would enter the studio in February 2010 "to rehearse, write and record" their 20th studio album, to be released on 13 December 2010. The album is being recorded with Cameron Webb and Welsh producer Romesh Dodangoda in Longwave Studio, Cardiff.

On 25 January 2010 it was confirmed that Motörhead would play at Download Festival in June 2010, and on 24 February 2010 it was also confirmed that they would play at Rock in Rio in May 2010.

In an interview with Hungarian television in July 2010, drummer Mikkey Dee announced that the album was finished, with 11 tracks. The album's name was said to be The Wörld is Yours. On 3 November 2010, Future PLC, a UK media company, announced that Motörhead are to release The Wörld is Yours via an exclusive publishing deal with Classic Rock magazine on 14 December. The standard CD release of The Wörld is Yours will go on sale on 17 January 2011, through Motörhead's own label, Motörhead Music.

To coincide with the release of their upcoming album, Motörhead embarked on a 35th Anniversary UK tour, from 8 - 28 November 2010, and a European tour from 31 November 2010 - 19 December 2010. They will also take their tour to the Americas in 2011.

In October, the band re-recorded a slow blues version of their longtime hit Ace of Spades for a TV spot for Kronenbourg beer. The file will be available for free download from the Kronenbourg website.

On 5 December the single "Get Back In Line was released. Followed by the release of a video for the single on December 6.

In December, Mikkey Dee told to some French journalists that Motörhead is planning to release a box-set with several DVDs in 2011. He didn't give any details but said that it will come in a "beautiful package including many surprises".

On 17 January 2011, it was announced that Motörhead would be part of the Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth.

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Official Motorhead's Video

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Other bands that participated at the Global East Rock Festival 2009: Arcana Imperia, Crematory, D.V.S., Diary of Dreams, Ensiferum, Epica, Graveworm, Kingdom Come, Kreator, Maknamara, My Dying Bride, My Favorite Scar, Sonic Syndicate, Tarja Turunen, W.H.I.T.E.

Created At: September 22, 2010 3:52 PM Updated At: May 9, 2011 11:48 PM