Lemmy Kilmister was destined to become a rockstar, and during his early years, he was prepared to do anything to realise his dreams. Kilmister’s first break came when he joined the classic rock outfit Hawkwind, which gave him a platform to build from, and establish himself as a musical force. However, the bruising rocker was never a natural fit for the group, and his exit was inevitable from the start.
Before joining Hawkwind, Lemmy was already a name in the London music scene after moving to the capital in 1967. At that time, there was no better place to be, and Kilmister left behind his band in Manchester, The Rockin’ Vicars, to start a fresh chapter in London. Due to his connections, Kilmister quickly landed a job working as a roadie with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and everything was looking up.
Kilmister shared a flat with Noel Redding, who played bass for Hendrix, and their tour manager, Neville Chesters. While working as a roadie, Kilmister didn’t abandon his hopes of being in the limelight and still played in a series of bands, but success evaded him.
In 1970, Kilmister auditioned to become an additional guitarist in Hawkwind. Although they decided against offering him the role, they kept him in mind when their bassist didn’t show up for a gig in Notting Hill, and at the last minute, Lemmy heroically deputised.
Despite never playing the bass before, Lemmy somehow managed to convince Hawkwind he was a professional and became a permanent member of the group. After four years, tensions became unmanageable due to Kilmister’s drug use which affected his performances and even led to an arrest in Canada. Shortly afterwards, he was relieved of his duties.
However, just before his exit, Lemmy wrote the drug-fuelled anthem, ‘Motorhead’, and although Hawkwind released the song, he believes it signalled the end of his career with the band. He told Rolling Stone (via RockCelebrities): “I wrote that when I was in Hawkwind. We were in the studio doing the last album I was on, ‘Warrior On The Edge Of Time.’ We started playing, it caught on, and we put it on the B side of ‘Kings Of Speed.’
“The song was about speed, and it was an issue to Hawkwind, and that’s why I got fired. I never asked them what they thought of Motörhead after that. I didn’t care what they thought of it. I don’t think of ‘Motörhead’ as a defining song, though. That song’s long gone for me now.”
Fittingly, Kilmister decided to name his next venture after the song, ‘Motorhead’, which caused him to leave Hawkwind. Despite not being close friends with his bandmates, they spoke the same language musically. If he wasn’t pushed out, Lemmy may have never started Mötorhead, which would have been a crying shame, and his sacking was the best thing to happen to him.
Leave a Reply