Motörhead

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Go To Motörhead Discography | Go to Motörhead Gigs

Rock / Heavy Metal band Motörhead were formed in 1975 by bassist and singer/songwriter Ian Fraser (Lemmy) Kilmister, who has been with the band throughout their career. Fusing punk rock, heavy metal and blues, Motörhead were instumental in pioneering "speed" and "thrash" metal. Although Lemmy prefers to describe the band's music simply as rock and roll, often opening live shows with the assertion "We are Motörhead. We play rock and roll."

Typically Motörhead song lyrics cover topics such as: sex, war, good versus evil, substance abuse, abuse of power, and life on the road. The distinctive fanged-face logo referred to as "War-Pig" or "Snaggletooth", with its horns, chains, and spikes, was created by artist Joe Petagno in 1977 for the cover of the Motörhead album and has iconically appeared in many variations on covers of ensuing albums.

The band is ranked number 26 in VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.

Motorhead

Left to right: Phil Campbell, Mikkey Dee, and Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister.

Motörhead time line

24 December 1945

Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister born, Burslem, Stoke on Trent, England.

1960-1965

Lemmy joins R & B bands - The Rainmakers, then The Mowtown Sect, playing rhythm guitar around pubs and clubs in Manchester and the North of England.

1965

Lemmy joins The Rocking Vicars and touring Northern England and Europe, becoming one of the earliest British rock bands to perform behind the Iron Curtain - playing Yugoslavia in the summer of 1965. Signed to CBS they released three singles, "Stella", "It's Alright" and "Dandy".

1967

Lemmy leaves the Rocking Vicars and moves to London eventually meeting up with acquaintance Neville Chesters and moving into the flat he shared with Noel Redding of the The Jimi Hendrix Experience. He then works as roadie with the band for the following year.

1968

Lemmy joins Sam Gopal and records the album "Escalator" and the single "Horse".

1969

Lemmy meets Simon King in a Chelsea shopping centre and joins the band Opal Butterfly, which soon folded, having failed to raise enough popular interest with their four CBS single releases "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)", "Beautiful Beige", "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand" and "Groupie Girl".

1971

Lemmy joins psychedelic rock band Hawkwind, later inviting King to replace the bands original drummer Terry Ollis. This was Lemmy's first experience of playing bass guitar and he chose to approach it very much like the rhythm guitar he was more used to, heavily utilising chords and double stops to provide a distinctive style that shaped the Hawkwind sound of that era and would go on to define Motörhead.

1972

Hawkwind release the albums Glastonbury Fayre, Greasy Truckers Party, Doremi Fasol Latido and famously the single "Silver Machine" on which Lemmy provided lead vocals.

1973

Hawkwind release album Space Ritual and the singles "Urban Guerrilla" and "Lord of Light"

1974

Hawkwind release album Hall of the Mountain Grill the single "Psychedelic Warlords"

Early May 1975

Hawkwind release album Warrior on the Edge of Time and the single "Kings of Speed" with the consequential B Side "Motorhead". They embark on a promotional tour of Canada and North America, the band are on the way up.

Late May 1975

Lemmy fired from Hawkwind 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, however he was released on a then technicallity of Canadian law as it turned out that it was actually speed he was in possession of and he had been charged incorrectly. This caused Hawkwind to cancel some of their North America tour dates, leading to Lemmy's demise with the band.

June 1975

Lemmy forms a new band with guitarist Larry Wallis (former member of the Pink Fairies, Steve Took's Shagrat and UFO) and drummer Lucas Fox. They initially called themselves Bastard but were pursuaded by manager Douglas Smith that this would make an appearance on Top of the Pops unlikely. Lemmy uncharacteristically reigned in his naturally rebellious sense of humour and renamed the band after the last song he wrote with Hawkwind, adding a twist to reflect his interest in German WWll memorabilia - Motörhead was born.

Despite their wish to appear on mainstream prime time TV Lemmy said at the time that their 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".

20 July 1975

Motörhead play their first gig supporting prog rock band Greenslade at The Roundhouse, London. They go on tour for a further 9 dates.

19 October 1975

Motörhead dubbed "the worst band ln the world" by the NME after gig as supporting act to Blue Öyster Cult at the Hammersmith Odeon, London. Having to use BÖCs unfamiliar equipment and a lack of soundcheck lead to a poor performance in front of their biggest and most influential audience to date.

December 1975 -

February 1976

First album recording. Despite these reviews, having already been contracted to United Artists by Hawkwind's A&R man, Andrew Lauder, the band we able to enter Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, to record the album eventually released as On Parole.

Original producer Dave Edmunds was replaced by Fritz Fryer (named "Fat" by the band) and drummer Fox, proving to be unreliable, was replaced by Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor, after Lemmy cadged a lift to the studio from him.

UA were unhappy and worried by both material and reviews and refused to release the album, although it was subsequently issued as On Parole in 1979 after the band had established success elsewhere. See the discography for further details.

February 1976

Phil Taylor meets guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke while painting a houseboat and introduces him to Lemmy, who feeling that two guitarists would improve the band, auditioned and invited him to join. Wallis, who was now touring with a reformed Pink Fairies, quit immediately - instantly returning Motörhead to the power trio format. This Lemmy/Clarke/Taylor lineup is often regarded as the "classic" Motörhead line-up.

December 1976

The band record the single "Leaving Here" on the Stiff Records label, but United Artists prevent its release as Motörhead were still under contract to them and despite still refusing to issue their debut album

April 1977

By this time no records, no recognition, no money lead Taylor and Clarke to approach Lemmy to give up. He was unwilling to go without a last ditch attempt at success and after some discussion they decide to do a farewell show at the Marquee Club in London. Lemmy had met Ted Carroll from Chiswick Records and asked him to record the show but he was unable to get the mobile recording studio to the Marquee Club on the day, instead offering them two days at Escape Studios with producer Speedy Keen to record a single.

May 1977

The band record not just a single but eleven tracks in two days at Escape Studios, sufficiently impressing Carroll to arrange further time at Olympic Studios to polish the work to releasable standard. This resulted in a total of thirteen tracks, some new but most re-workings of the songs originally recorded with United Artists.

June 1977

Single "Motörhead" released and tour supporting Hawkwind.

July 1977

"Beyond the Threshold of Pain" tour with raucous R&B band The Count Bishops.

August 1977

The album Motörhead released, eventually reaching No. 43 in the UK album charts.

August 1977

Tony Secunda (previously TRex's manager) takes over the management of the band, and a period of chaos ensues including...

March 1978

...Clarke and Taylor form and play gigs as The Muggers with Speedy Keen and Billy Rath.

July 1978

Douglas Smith returns as manager and a one-off singles deal with Bronze Records, restoring some order.

September 1978

Single "Louie Louie" released, eventually reaching No. 68 in the UK Singles Charts and a UK promotional tour. Chiswick capitalised on this new level of success by re-issuing the debut album Motörhead on white vinyl through EMI Records.

18 September 1978

Motörhead record a BBC Radio 1 John Peel in session (later issued on the 2005 BBC Live & In-Session album)

25 October 1978

The band make their first appearance on BBC Television's Top of the Pops.

November 1978

Chiswick Records, encouraged by this success, re-release the Motörhead album with the first 10,000 copies pressed in white vinyl

December 1978 -

January 1979

Bronze extend their contract, and the band go back into the studio (Roundhouse and Sound Development) to record an album. Jimmy Miller produces.

February 1979

The single "Overkill" is released in 7" and 12" vinyl pressings with B-side "Too Late Too Late".

9 March 1979

Motörhead perform "Overkill" on Top of the Pops. It eventually reaches No.39 in the UK single charts.

23 March 1979

Overkill Tour starts.

24 March 1979

The album Overkill is released going on to reach No.24 in the UK album charts

June 1979

The single "No Class" is released from the album with previously un-issued song "Like A Nightmare" on the B-side. It achieves No.61 in the charts.

7 July 1979 –

31 August 1979

Motörhead record the Bomber album at the Roundhouse and Olympic Studios. Again Jimmy Miller produces.

Friday 24th August 1979

The band appear at the Reading Festival and are well received. Also on the playlist that day are The Cure (who dedicate a song to Lemmy, getting cheers from an otherwise hostile crowd) the Tourists (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart) and The Police.

27 October 1979

Bomber album released, going on to reach No.12 in the UK.

October 1979

Encouraged by all the activity United Artists finally release On Parole, reaching No.65.

1 December 1979

Single "Bomber" released with B-side "Over the Top", the first 20,000 copies pressed in blue vinyl. It achieved No.34. ("Over the Top" was also recorded as a collaboration with The Damned for inclusion in a proposed single along with "Ballroom Blitz". The recording session, however, became a drinking session and the results were deemed unreleasable. It was eventually issued in 2003 as part of the Stone Deaf Forever! boxset).

3 December 1979

Another Top of the Pops appearance.

3 May 1980

Bronze issue "The Golden Years" live EP featurng the songs "Leaving Here", "Stone Dead Forever", "Dead Men Tell No Tales" and "Too Late, Too Late". The band prefered the title "Flying Tonight" (as being more in keeping with the Bomber theme already in place with song, album, album cover and stage show featuring the iconic lighting rig) but were on tour in Europe at the time of release. It reaches No.8.

20 August 1980

ITV station ATV film Motörhead and female rock band Girlschool performing live at the Nottingham Theatre Royal for the Rockstage programme, eventually broadcast on 4 April 1981

August 1980 -

September 1980

The band record the Ace of Spades album at Jackson's Studios in Rickmansworth, the first of several projects with producer Vic Maile.

22 October 1980

Start of the Aces Up Your Sleeve tour with support provided by Girlschool and Vardis.

27 October 1980

"Ace of Spades" single released, going on to reach No.15 in the charts.

October 1980

Two appearances on Top of the Pops.

8 November 1980

Ace of Spades album released reaching No.4 and going Gold spurring Bronze to issue a limited edition gold vinyl version.

8 November 1980

Appearance on Tiswas.

22 November 1980

Ted Carroll uses Motörhead's popularity to release four songs recorded but unused during the Chiswick sessions as the "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" EP through the Big Beat label. Tracks: ZZ Top's "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers", the Larry Wallis penned "On Parole", their own "Instro" and John Mayall's "I'm Your Witchdoctor". It reaches No.43.

2 December 1980

During drunken messing about after a gig in Belfast "Philthy" Phil Taylor is dropped on his head, breaking his neck, temporarily halting the tour.

December 1980

The uninjured members of the band record the "St Valentine's Day Massacre" EP with Girlschool. Both bands collaborated as "Headgirl" on a cover of Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' "Please Don't Touch", Girlschool covered Motörhead's "Bomber" and Motörhead perform Girlschool's "Emergency". Although Taylor appears on the record sleeve (fully equipped with neck brace) Girlschool's Denise Dufort provides the drums on all three tracks.

1 February 1981

"St Valentine's Day Massacre" released.

19 February 1981

"Headgirl" perform "Please don't Touch" on Top of the Pops. The single reaches No.5.

28 March -

30 March 1981

Gigs at Leeds and Newcastle during the "Short Sharp Pain in the Neck" tour recorded for later release.

April - July 1981

Motörhead get their first US exposure in North America touring in support of Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Oz

27 June 1981

The live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith released (named despite Hammersmith not being a date on the tour from which all but one of the recordings were taken). The album is well recieved and goes on to reach No.1 in the UK album charts, going Gold.

7 July 1981

Appearance on Top of the Pops to promote...

11 July 1981

...Live version of the song "Motörhead" taken from the album, released as a single and going to No.6 in the UK.

6 October 1981

Broadcast of tracks recorded at BBC's Maida Vale 4 studio on David Jensen's Radio 1 show.

October 1981

Lemmy plays on The Young and Moody Band's single "Please don't touch". Bob Young (Status Quo co-writer) and Micky Moody (ex Whitesnake) were also joined by Cozy Powell on drums and The Nolans as backing singers. Lemmy's attempts to chat up Linda Nolan are rebuffed. The song reaches No.63 in the charts.

20 November 1981

The band embark on a European tour supported by Tank.

December 1981 -

January 1982

Eddie Clarke produces Tank's debut album Filth Hounds of Hades at Ramport Studios with Will Reid Dick.

January 1982 -

February 1982

Recording sessions for the next album at Ramport and Morgan studios. Encouraged by his recent experience Clarke persuades the band to drop producer Vic Maille in favour of allowing himself to take on the role, again with Will Reid Dick.

17 March 1982 -

12 April 1982

Iron Fist UK tour.

3 April 1982

The single "Iron Fist" is released, reaching #29 on the UK Singles Chart.

17 April 1982

Album Iron Fist released peaking at #6 on the UK Albums Chart.

12 May 1982

Start of American / Canadian tour in Toronto

12-13 May 1982

Back in the studio this time with Wendy O Williams and the Plasmatics to record a cover of Tammy Wynette's "Stand by your man". Eddie Clarke doesn't play on the track but produces with Dick (now refered to as Evil Red Dick by Lemmy). Clarke is less than happy with the experience.

14 May 1982

Eddie Clarke plays his last gig with Motörhead at the New York Palladium.

21 May 1982

Ex Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson plays first gig with the band after five days rehearsal. He had been recording a solo album in Canada when Lemmy phoned him the day after Clarke left and agreed to finish the tour and an album by album contract thereafter.

May 1983

"I got mine" released as a single from the forthcoming album with "Turn you around again" as the b side. It reaches No.46.

4 June 1983

Release of Another Perfect Day, Motörhead's most melodic album to date. Although highly criticised as a result it reaches No.20 in the UK album charts.

June 1983 -

11 November 1983

'Another Perfect Tour' taking in the UK, Europe, America and Japan.

July 1983

"Shine" released as a single with a live version of "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man" as the b side. No.59 in the UK charts.

11 November 1983

Brian Robertson plays his last gig with the band. His increasing eccentricity (shorts and ballet shoes on stage) and refusal to play expected Motörhead standards leads to discussion followed by an amicable firing.

December 1983 -

January 1984

Auditions held to find Robertson's replacement. Two guitarists are eventually chosen - relative unknowns Phil Campbell and Micheal "Würzel" Burston.

February 1984

The new line up re record "Ace of Spades" for The Young Ones' episode "Bambi". Having previously announced his intention during the earlier auditions Phil Taylor quits shortly after this, eventually joining Brian Robertson in his new band. Phil Campbell had recently met ex Glitter Band and Saxon drummer Pete Gill who tries out successfully.

July 1984 -

August 1984

Tour of Australia and New Zealand

September 1984

Tour of Hungary

1 September 1984

"Killed by Death" released from the next album. It reaches No.51.

15 September 1984

No Remorse released. This album was originally intended by Bronze to be a compilation. Hearing of this Lemmy feels that this was due to a lack of confidence in the new line up and a signal that the label are expecting things to draw to an end so he hijacks proceedings, chooses the tracks personally and records six new songs with the rest of the band, four of which are included, one at the end of each side. The album reaches No.14, going silver. Despite this success it marked the begining of a two year legal battle with Bronze for contractual release during which time no recordings or releases could be made.

24 October 1984 -

7 November 1984

No Remorse 'Death On The Road' tour of the UK.

26 October 1984

Prior to their evening gig the band make a live appearance on British Channel 4's music programme The Tube, performing "Killed By Death", "Steal Your Face", "Overkill". Unfortunately the programme's closing credits are played over "Steal Your Face" and "Overkill" isn't broadcast at all.

19 November 1984 -

15 December 1984

Tour of America with Metal bands Exciter and Mercyful Fate.

26 December 1984 -

30 December 1984

Five shows in Germany.

28 and 29 June 1985

Two shows at the Hammersmith Odeon celebrating the band's tenth anniversary. A video of the second show was later released as "The Birthday Party".

June 1985 -

August 1985

'It Never Gets Dark' tour of Sweden and Norway.

November 1985 -

December 1985

American tour.

26 March 1986 -

3 April 1986

'Easter Metal Blast' tour of Germany, Holland and Denmark

June 1986

Legal battle with Bronze is finally settled in the band's favour and Motörhead's management instigate their own record label, GWR. Recording takes place at Master Rock Studios, London.

5 July 1986

"Deaf Forever" released as a single reaching No.67 in the UK charts.

9 August 1986

The Orgasmatron album released. Lemmy and Würzel are interviewed by Andy Kershaw on BBC Radio 1's Saturday Live show during which "Orgasmatron" and "Deaf Forever" are played. The album reaches No.21 in the UK charts.

16 August 1986

Motörhead play the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington closing with a flyover by two German WW2 aircraft. The performance is recorded by BBC Radio 1 for a later broadcast of the Friday Rock Show.

September 1986

'Orgasmatron' tour of the UK, supported by Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction.

October 1986

American tour.

December 1986

Tour of Germany.

1987

Filming of "Eat the Rich" with Lemmy taking a starring role alongside Robbie Coltrane, Kathy Burke, Sean Chapman, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Dawn French, Miranda Richardson, Jools Holland and Paul McCartney. During this time Pete Gill leaves and Phil Taylor returns to appear in the band's performance of "Eat the Rich", written especially for the film. The soundtrack also features "Built for Speed", "Nothing Up My Sleeve", "Doctor Rock", "On the Road" and "Orgasmatron" as well as Würzel's solo single "Bess".

5 September 1987

Release of Rock 'n' Roll, including "Eat the Rich", which was issued as a single. The album reaches No.34.

2 July 1988

Motörhead perform at the Giants of Rock Festival in Hämeenlinna, Finland. A recording is made for later release.

15 October 1988

Live album No Sleep at All released. The band want to issue "Traitor" as a single but GWR produce "Ace of Spades" instead. A court case lasting into 1990 follows.

1990

Released from their contract with GWR the band sign with Epic/WTG. Now ex-manager Doug Smith releases the Birthday Party recordings as a cd album, against their wishes. They enter the studio and record a new album sacking producer Ed Stassium after four tracks for his use of tambourines.

5 January 1991

The song "The One to Sing the Blues" issued as 7", cassette, shaped picture disc, 12" and CD single. It reaches No.45 in the UK Singles Chart

February 1991

"Serves you right" tour of UK.

26 February 1991

The album 1916 is released, eventually reaching No.24 in the UK album charts.

March 1991 -

April 1991

"Lights out over Europe" tour of Europe, followed by six more dates in UK.

June 1991

Ten live dates in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

July 1991 -

August 1991

"Operation Rock 'n' Roll" tour of US with Judas Priest and Alice Cooper.

December 1991

Tour of Germany.

1992

1916 is nominated for a Grammy award but loses out to Metallica's Metallica.

March 1992 -

June 1992

Recording sessions at the Music Grinder Studios, East Hollywood. Three drummers participated, Phil Taylor, who was fired because he did not learn the drum tracks on the song "I Ain't No Nice Guy", session musician Tommy Aldridge who recorded most of the material on the album, and new permanent band member Mikkey Dee, who recorded "Hellraiser", a song originally co-written by Lemmy and Ozzy Osbourne for Ozzy's No More Tears album. Ozzy makes a guest appearance on the album as does Slash of Guns N' Roses. Around this time Todd Singerman made an unsolicited visit to the band, insisting he should manage Mötorhead despite never having managed a band before. Lemmy decided to take him on board, firing Banker, who the band had been unhappy with for some time.
28 March 1992
Phil Taylor plays his last gig at Irvine Meadows, Irvine, California.
14 August 1992
March ör Die album released, reaching No.60 in the UK, it is also the first album to chart in Germany at No.21.
30 August 1992
Mikkey Dee appears on stage with Motörhead for the first time at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
September 1992
US tour with Ozzy Osbourne, Skew Siskin and Exodus.
27 September 1992
Motörhead play the Los Angeles Coliseum with Metallica and Guns N' Roses.

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