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"I was born to play the bass."

Quote from Bass Player Magazine

This is Lemmy.  Bass player and frontman of Motorhead!
Lemmy Kilmister Player Spotlight

As we ascend to the height of summer, the festival season is bellowing through the fields, we always feel the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll is alive and kicking. It feels as though, in the modern day music scene, the present relies heavily on the past; where historical musicians and legends become the inspiration and regeneration for each generation.

True rock ’n’ roll inspiration rarely comes in such excess within one entity.  However, this man’s heady reputation, antics, and appearance are as widely heralded as his musical creations.

A true one-of-a-kind, unique player and contemporary of his time who rarely followed the rules.  He was a through-and-through rock ’n’ roll machine; fuelled by Jack n’ Coke, coke, and a wild cocktail of other psychedelic supplements.  This is what we all want to see and hear: a real rockstar, who lived and breathed it at the absolute limit.

He made no apologies, and no excuses.  He could even forgo this introduction.  Hold onto your sanity, this is LEMMY! 🃏 ♠️

Neil Lupin | Redferns | Getty Images


It’s always intrigues me to discover early life and the journey of every rock ‘n’ roll icon.  I always find it so fascinating how they started and where they ended up, the journey can sometimes be better than the destination…

Ian Fraser Kilmister was born on Christmas Eve in 1945 in the town of Burslem, also known as the “mother town” of Stoke-On-Trent and home to the potteries.  His parents separated when he was only a few months old; his father an ex-Royal Air Force Chaplain ⛪️ - somewhat ironically 🤔.

"At the age of 10, Kilmister's mother married George Willis, who had two older children from a previous marriage, Patricia and Tony, with whom he didn't get on. The family moved to Benllech, Anglesey, North Wales and it was during this time that he started to show an interest in rock ’n’ roll music, girls, and horses.

He attended Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones school in Amlwch, where he was nick-named Lemmy, although he is unsure why, and it would later be claimed that it originated from the phrase "Lemmy a quid til Friday" due to his habit of cadging money from people to feed his addiction to fruit machines.  Upon leaving school and with his family relocated in Conwy, Kilmister undertook menial jobs including working at the local Hotpoint factory while also playing guitar for local bands, such as The Sundowners, and spending time at a horse riding school.”

Excerpt - Metal Wiki

Lemmy’s earliest rock & roll experiences were in 1964, when he joined two local Blackpool, England R&B bands, the Rainmakers and the Motown Sect. Over the course of the '60s, he played with a number of bands - including the Rockin' Vickers, Gopal's Dream, and Opal Butterfly - as well as briefly working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix. In 1971, he joined the heavy prog rock band Hawkwind as bassist. Lemmy was originally slated to stay with the band only six months, but he stayed with the group for four years. During that time, he wrote and sang several songs with the band, including their signature track, the number three U.K. hit "Silver Machine”.

“I’d never played bass in my life!" Lemmy said in his memoir. After joining Hawkwind onstage for the show, vocalist and sax player Nik Turner told him, "Make some noises in E. This is called 'You Shouldn't Do That.'" Lemmy passed the audition and spent the next four years playing bass with the band.”


Prior to the hazy days of Hawkwind, Lemmy had already had his fair share of rock 'n' roll experiences, he pretty much had a crash course with that guy from America that came over with a Strat and some cool clothes, can't remember his name… ‘Jimi’ was it? 😀

“In his pre-Hawkwind days, Lemmy cut his teeth as part of the road crew for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. "Jimi taught me how to find drugs in the most unlikely places because that was part of my job for him," Lemmy told Revolver. "That's how I learned to function on five hits of acid. But I also learned about theatrics and performing. Jimi was so effortlessly cool and he would move like an elegant spider. He was always interested in the crowd. He made very bad jokes because he was so out of his mind. People couldn't figure out what he was talking about by the time he was finished. But he was certainly the best guitar player you'll ever see, probably ever."


The Motörhead logo and emblem


Lemmy was kicked out of Hawkwind in the spring of 1975 after he spent five days in a Canadian prison for drug possession. Once he returned to England, Kilmister set about forming a new band. Originally, it was to have been called Bastard, but he soon decided to call the band Motörhead, named after the last song he wrote for Hawkwind. Lemmy drafted in Pink Fairies guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox to round out the lineup. Motörhead made their debut supporting Greenslade in July. Two months later, the group headed into the studio to make their debut album for United Artists with producer Dave Edmunds. Motörhead and Edmunds clashed over the direction of the recording, resulting in the group firing the producer and replacing him with Fritz Fryer. At the end of the year, Fox left the band and Lemmy replaced him with his friend Philthy Animal (born Philip Taylor), an amateur musician.

Instantly recognisable as a cult rock 'n' roll icon with his signature attire, mutton chop sideburns, facial moles, and gravelly voice not to mention he was always seen with a drink 🍺  in one hand and a cigarette 🚬  in another. 😉

This absolute rock 'n' roll monster along with filthy animal Phil Taylor and Fast Eddie Clarke was a full speed ahead outfit built for pure carnage!

Motörhead, Overkill music video

Formed in 1975, and taking their name from the American slang for speedfreak, Motörhead, put simply, played rock ‘n’ roll. But they were more than that, so much more; they were an inspiration, a lifestyle, the very embodiment of rock ‘n’ roll. And since frontman-bassist Lemmy Kilmister’s death on 28th December 2015, there has not been a single day when they’ve not been sorely missed. It seems almost unfathomable that there is no more Motörhead, and never again will we wake up to ringing ears from their always deafeningly brilliant shows. Never again will we hear a new album.

Metallica ft. Lemmy live in Nashville, 2009

“Rock 'n' roll is the only religion I found that never lets you down!”

From an interview with Lemmy in 1983

The big one! Motörhead's Ace of Spades music video


As we know, Lemmy started out as a guitar player and was thrown into bass the day of his Hawkwind audition.  Straight into the fire, bass thrown round his neck - a Rickenbacker no less - and that was it,  he became a bass player or The Bass became him as he sometimes quotes.

Incredibly through his full throttle career Lemmy basically negotiated bass as he saw fit, not really learning the instrument or working on any form of structure or techniques.  He just went in hell for leather and basically put his personality into the 4 strings - Rock 'n' roll in its purist form!

“That was a great thing for me – kind of an eye-opener – and also there was a lot of freedom within that band to play bass. I did a lot of fill-ins and a lot of smart shit... You know, I was showing off as usual. What’s it for if you can’t show off? It’s rock ’n’ roll, so you might as well.”

Talking to BP, he said that his bass playing “was based on guitar. I found out about drone strings, where you let the A or the D string ring and play the melody on the G. It falls in very well behind the guitar. I used a lot of chords, too.”

Lemmy for Bass Player magazine

His signature sound is built on very basic and simple tools; Lemmy's been a Marshall user for life after picking up 2x Marshall Super Bass heads and cabs when he was in America. He's never felt the need to change to capture the sound in his mind. It's no secret that he was a fond user of Rickenbacker basses and was synonymous with them; he also has his own signature model which looks absolutely incredible!

“What made you gravitate toward the Rickenbacker as your main instrument?

The shape. I’m all for the image—always. If you get one that looks good, you can always mess with the pickups if it sounds bad. I would get Rickenbacker basses and change the pickups. I put a Gibson Thunderbird pickup in my first one, and that sounded like a fucking bulldozer. The new Rickenbacker pickups are much better.”

Lemmy for Bass Player Magazine

The Lemmy Signature Rickenbacker bass

When investigating his signature sound we find there to be no mystery or smoke and mirrors, it's just straight up Lemmy attacking it as he sees it.

“Picking the strings near the neck, he came up with an indistinct tone that provided more of a texture than actual individual notes. We asked him if the strings lacked tension when plucked at that point, and he explained: “Well, I don’t use small-gauge strings. I’m a great believer that there should be heavy-gauge, medium, and light and that’s all, otherwise it’s too confusing.”

Quote from GuitarWorld.com

Motörhead - The Chase is Better Than The Catch


When it comes to strings his opinions again are very straightforward but also vague; not too much detail or explanation is observed, only that he likes a heavy string as he's going to hit it and he's going to hit it hard 🤘

Jim Dunlop has produced a signature set for the icon and here is what they have to say about them; built for the man himself for the road the wreckage and the rock 'n' roll 😎

Jim Dunlop Stainless Steel bass strings, Lemmy edition.

"The bass tone of Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister is as singular as the man himself—powerful midrange with tons of punch and crunch. Dunlop now offers players the same custom set of stainless steel strings that drove Lemmy's iconic tone.

Bass players demand consistency, durability and versatility from their strings. Dunlop delivers. Dunlop Bass Strings offer traditionalists, slappers, and pickwielding rockers cutting midrange, wide bottom end and a growl that will cut through any band.

Carefully selected core-to-wrap ratios yield low tension strings with an extremely long life, and minimal break-in time. Each set is exceptionally well balanced string-to-string, and provides an amazing amount of dynamic range" - JimDunlop.com

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