Clad head to toe in black denim, named after their singer’s favorite drug, quite possibly the loudest band on Earth, England’s Motörhead are rock n’roll’s ultimate outlaw gang. Like AC/DC or The Ramones, they write basically one song and that one song is better than most bands entire discographies. Helmed since 1975 by legendary bassist-singer-rogue Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, their high speed hymns of oblivion have been inspiring hard rockers, metalheads and punks for nearly 40 years and the band has no intentions of slowing down. These are the 10 Most Crucial Moments in Motörhead History.
10. Lemmy Roadies For The Greatest Guitarist Of All Time
When Lemmy moved to London in 1967 he crashed on Jimi Hendrix Experience bassist Noel Redding’s floor and landed a part-time job as a roadie for the group. Getting paid to watch Jimi Hendrix play guitar night after night not only ranks as one of the best jobs ever but the Lord of The Strings also showed Lemmy the fine points of being a rock star and how to charm the ladies, in an out of the bedroom. 9. Motörhead: Every Punk Rockers Favorite Metal Band
Despite members protests that Motörhead are just a rock n’roll band, there’s no denying their place in the heavy metal pantheon. When they formed, punks and metalheads were opposing tribes but the band’s raw, aggressive style won fans amongst the safety-pinned minions and Lemmy even filled in on bass for first wave British punks The Damned. As punk went hardcore and metal started to thrash, Motörhead also provided the sonic blueprint for mid-80s crossover bands. 8. Lemmy Gets Kicked Out Of Hawkwind
Lemmy joined acid-gobbling English space rockers Hawkwind in 1971 and played on their UK hit single “Silver Machine” and landmark Space Ritual double live album. Thanks to heavy touring the band was poised for a US breakthrough but when Lemmy got busted for amphetamine possession going into Canada in 1975 his more lysergic-friendly bandmates gave him the boot. Proving revenge is a dish best served piping hot, Lemmy rushed back to England, purportedly screwed all their girlfriends and started Motörhead.
7. Snaggletooth: The Original Heavy Metal Mascot
Artist Joe Petagno’s “cross-breed gorilla-wolf-dog,” known to fans as Snaggletooth (a.k.a the War-Pig a.k.a The Bastard) is one of heavy metal’s most enduring and recognizable images. It first popped up on the band’s self-titled debut album and has gone through countless variations, appearing on all but 2 of Motörhead’s 20 albums. Perhaps most famously, it is the graphic center-piece of the band’s iconic “Motörhead – England” t-shirts, which have been mandatory apparel for metalheads worldwide since the group’s inception.
In 1976 readers of England’s New Musical Express magazine voted Motörhead “The Best Worst Band In The World.” Nearly 30 years later they won 2005’s Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. Ironically, it was for a cover of “Whiplash,” a song by former disciples Metallica who have been known to play unannounced shows as a Motörhead cover band as a tribute to their heroes. 5. No Remorse Double LP
This 1984 double LP “Best of” compilation served as many kids first proper introduction to the band and rates as high as their proper albums to many fans. Original LPs and tapes came in deluxe leather jackets and cases with Lemmy’s song-by-song commentary on the inner sleeves. It also featured the first recordings of the twin-guitar Motörhead lineup of Phil Campbell and Würzel, including the fan favorite “Killed By Death.” 4. Lemmy, Hit Songwriter
Surprisingly, rock’s resident brigand, known to live on a diet of cheap speed and cheaper sex, co-wrote one of fellow reprobate Ozzy Osbourne’s most sensitive power ballads, “Mama, I’m Coming Home.” To Lemmy’s chagrin, he’s made more money from that one song’s royalties than from the entire Motörhead discography. (NOTE: He has also written songs for The Ramones and Lita Ford.) 3. No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith Live LP
This 11 song live assault is Motörhead’s most successful album chart-wise, going #1 in the United Kingdom at the time of its release in 1981. The single LP collection finds the classic lineup of Lemmy, drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke tearing into the cream of their repertoire with no quarter shown to the audience or their eardrums. It is one of rock great live recordings, its status as such acknowledged in such tributes as the Beastie Boys song “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and Metallica’s seminal No Life ’til Leather demo. 2. Lemmy: The Movie
With the tag line “49% Motherf**ker, 51% son of a bitch,” 2010’s Lemmy is a feature length documentary about Motörhead’s mole-sporting sole constant member directed and produced by Greg Olliver and Wes Orshoski. Tucked between celebrity accolades from Slash and Dave Grohl among others, one learns such interesting tidbits as the fact that Lemmy has bedded over 1000 women, owns an extensive collection of Nazi memorabilia and his idea of fatherly advice to his son is “Don’t do coke. Just do speed. It’s much better for you.” 1. Ace Of Spades LP
Released in the fall of 1980, Ace Of Spades is the album Motörhead will forever be remembered for. Never before had a band played with such speed and power while still swinging like a pirate ship on a stormy sea. The album was a huge influence on the nascent thrash bands and found favor with fans of extreme music far and wide. Every song is good to great, including the signature title track and the touring anthem, “We Are The Road Crew.” The cover of the band dressed as bullet-belted desperados cemented their image as rock’s Wild Bunch and the music ensured their reputation as one of hard rock’s greatest bands.
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