It’s been a long and often often treacherous road, it’s fair to say that hard rock’s ultimate underground warriors, Motorhead, are almost universally recognized for their incomparable contributions to the history of heavy music. Led and epitomized since 1975 by the indefatigable Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, Motorhead have performed more shows, recorded more albums, and consumed more dangerous chemicals than virtually any rock band in history … and, mind you, at any given time there’s usually been just three of them! So it stands to reason that a band with so much history should be deserving of our best efforts to compile at least 20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Motorhead.
‘Motorhead’ wasn’t just the first song Lemmy wrote for his legendary band of the same name; it was the last song he wrote for his old band, Hawkwind. It appeared as the B-side to 1975’s ‘Kings of Speed’ single.
When he couldn’t get out in front of a stage himself, Lemmy would work backstage, including late ‘60s stints road managing Emerson Lake & Palmer and lugging gear for the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Motorhead really hit their stride with 1979’s incredible ‘Overkill’ album, which boasts one of the most popular cover designs by longtime artist Joe Petagno, who amazingly knocked it together in less than two pressure-packed weeks.
Despite his legendary chemical consumption, Lemmy wrote the song ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ about the ‘Bomber’ album’s producer, Jimmy Miller, who was battling heroin addiction during recording.
When Motorhead’s signature song, ‘Ace of Spades,’ was adapted for the ‘Rock Band 2’ video game, its lyrics were changed to reflect Lemmy’s immortality: “I don’t want to live forever…But, apparently I am.”
Legendary Motorhead drummer Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor was so reckless he once ignored a broken neck (sustained during drunken high jinx, of course) and kept right on touring. Today he sports a orange-sized lump on the back of his neck as a souvenir.
Motorhead’s song ‘Dancing on Your Grave’ helped Brazil’s most famous heavy metal band select their name. After translating the song’s title, they quite liked the way the word ‘grave’ sounded in Portuguese: Sepultura.
No Lemmys were harmed during the making of 1984’s iconic ‘Killed by Death’ video: a stuntman was hired to drive that Harley Davidson through walls and out of the grave. Not that this is shocking; we just needed an excuse to watch that outrageous video!
Michael ‘Wurzel’ Burston (RIP) who joined the band in ’84, got his nickname (based on a walking, talking cartoon scarecrow character) in the army, and his military experience appealed to Lemmy’s mutual fascination in the subject almost as much as his guitar playing.
Phil Campbell, who with Wurzel, turned Motorhead into a quartet, is one of Wales’ best known guitar heroes, having cut his teeth with top Welsh N.W.O.B.H.M. contenders Persian Risk.
The demon train blazing across the ‘Orgasmatron’ LP’s cover art reflects the album’s original title, ‘Ridin’ with the Driver.’
Famed Ramones collaborator Ed Stasium was initially tapped to produce the ’1916’ album, but was fired after Lemmy caught him overdubbing latin percussion onto the song ‘Going to Brazil,’ without the band’s knowledge.
‘You Better Run,’ off of 1992’s ‘March or Die’ LP, was later re-recorded as ‘You Better Swim’ for an episode of ‘Spongebob Squarepants.’
For four albums, beginning with 1993’s ‘Bastards’ and ending with ’98’s ‘Snake Bite Love,’ Motorhead’s producer was Howard Benson, who’s known for working with 21st century rock bands like Papa Roach and Theory of a Deadman.
Mikkey Dee is by far Motorhead’s longest serving drummer, so most fans know that he is Swedish. But did you know about his proud Greek heritage, which explains his full given name of Micael Kiriakos Delaoglou?
Adam Berry, Getty Images
In October of 2001, Motorhead made a cameo appearance on ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ playing a song called ‘Sorry.’
2004’s ‘Inferno’ album features a cameo by guitar god Steve Vai, who plays on the songs ‘Terminal Show’ and ‘Down on Me.’
The Motorhead coat-of-arms devised for the ‘Motorizer’ album cover depicts England’s Three Lions (for Lemmy), Sweden’s Three Crowns (for Mikkey Dee), the Welsh Dragon (for Phil Campbell), and, last but not least, the band’s lovable mascot, Snaggletooth.
Speaking of that popular war-pig mascot, he has been absent from just two of Motorhead’s 21 studio album sleeves: the unofficial ‘On Parole’ and 1996’s ‘Overnight Sensation.’ (Even on ‘Ace of Spades’ he can be seen on belt-buckles and jacket brooches).
Incidentally, Ian Kilmister earned his nickname, Lemmy, because of his persistent requests to others to please lend him some money. In other words, “Lemmy a few bucks.”
Liz Ramanand, Loudwire
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