To celebrate their impact on the music industry, I have compiled a list of 20 facts you probably don’t know about Motörhead – the legendary UK rock band.
Recognised as one of the great heavy metal bands of all time, Motörhead changed the face of rock and roll forever in the late 70s and early 80s with five head-bangingly fantastic studio albums, namely: Motorhead, Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, and Iron Fist. The band’s formation is ranked as one of the most notable events of 1975.
Here are 20 facts you might not have known about Motörhead
1. The band’s name is derived from a song Lemmy wrote while part of a progressive rock band called Hawkwing. “Motorhead” is a colloquial term for a heavy amphetamine user; another term is “speed freak”. He initially wanted to call his new band “Bastard” but was convinced not to after being told they would never be played on Britain’s Top of the Pops with such a controversial name.
2. Lemmy never had any intention for the band to make its way onto the music scene meekly. It’s was full-on from start to finish. One of the earliest press releases about the band claimed their music was so loud if they ever happened to become your neighbours it would destroy your lawn.
3. Despite Motörhead‘s influence on several music scenes, thrash metal and speed metal, in particular, Lemmy always maintained they were a rock and roll band that had more in common with punk rock bands than anything else. However, he did acknowledge that they had a “unique” sound for that genre.
4. While the “classic” Motörhead lineup is considered to consist of Lemmy, Fast Eddie, and Philthy, the original three members of the band were Lucas Fox on drums and Larry Wallis on guitar playing alongside Lemmy.
5. The first album the “original” Motörhead members recorded with United Artists Records in 1976 was shelved after being deemed unusable. However, the record label’s opinion changed dramatically three years later when the band started gaining popularity and released the album under the title “On Parole”. To this day, it is not considered an official Motörhead album by many sources.
6. Staunch Motörhead fans will be aware of the frightful fanged beast featured on many of the band’s album covers, but most don’t know it has a name. The monster is affectionately known as Snaggletooth by members of the band. It is also called War Pig or The Little Bastard by the artist who created it, Joe Petagno.
7. Through the years, the band featured no less than 10 members, but Lemmy was the only one around from the very first day to the very last.
8. Lemmy was the heart and soul of Motörhead, but many do not know that his real name Ian Fraser Kilmister. The name Lemmy came from a youth spent gambling on the slot machines and his continually asking friends to “lemme a quid” (lend me some money), so he could play another round.
9. Motörhead‘s popularity meant they had an impact on more than just the music industry. There is an official pinball machine celebrating the band and even a trivia board game. The iGaming industry are also big fans, and there is a Motörhead slot game that can be found on the best South African online casinos like Kassu and Sloty Casino.
10. Some will know that Lemmy teamed up with Ozzy Osbourne to write four songs on the latter’s No More Tears album. However, most do not know that, later in life, Lemmy claimed he earned far more from the royalties for his contribution to that album than he ever did of making music with Motörhead.
11. Lemmy was inspired to create his band after seeing The Beatles and Cavern perform live in concert when he was just 16 years old.
12. Motörhead always had a reputation for partying hard. Lemmy learned the ins and outs of the rock and roll lifestyle while working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, who also features prominently on lists of interesting music facts, at the live music festival Woodstock.
13. Lemmy was such a big fan of American punk rock band Ramones, he wrote a song about them and included it on Motörhead‘s album 1916. The Ramones acknowledged this by recording their version of the song and inviting Lemmy to perform it on stage at their last-ever concert in 1996.
14. Metallica made a surprise appearance at Lemmy’s 50th birthday party, dressed up in wigs and sunglasses as a tribute band called The Lemmy’s. They played covers of several different Motörhead songs, and the performance recordings were included on Metallica‘s Garage Inc. album.
15. Motörhead has been nominated for many Grammy Awards, but their only win came in 2005, and it was for a cover the band did of a Metallica song. This fact never sat well with Lemmy who believed they were given the award out of pity and would have preferred for it to be for one of their original songs.
16. Lemmy was so addicted to making music, in his downtime away from Motörhead he was part of a rockabilly group with Stray Cats drummer Slim Jim Phantom called Head Cat.
17. In 1984, cable television channel MTV banned the music video for Motörhead‘s song “Killed By Death” for excessive violence. The video featured clips of Lemmy crashing through the wall of a house on a motorbike, being shot by police after a road chase, and electrocuted in an electric chair before riding out of his own grave on the very same motorcycle.
18. Lemmy gave up trying to teach Sid Vicious how to play bass guitar, believing he was “hopeless”. Vicious went on to become the bassist for the world-renowned rock band Sex Pistols.
19. The last ever live performance by the band Motörhead was performed in front of thousands of cheering fans at the multipurpose Max-Schmeling-Halle arena in Berlin, Germany. It was not planned as their final show, merely the last before a holiday break. However, Lemmy succumbed to cancer days after the event, effectively disbanding Motörhead for good.
20. Legend has it that Motörhead drummer Philthy ‘Animal’ Taylor was so hardcore he once broke his neck during a night of drunken debauchery and kept right on touring and playing shows with the band. To this day, there is a small orange lump on the back of his neck because the injury was never allowed to heal correctly.
Well, there you have it, 20 interesting facts you might not have known about Motörhead. If I left something important out, feel free to comment in the section provided below.
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