Motörhead were an English rock band formed in June 1975 by bassist, singer, and songwriter Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who was the sole constant member, guitarist Larry Wallis and drummer Lucas Fox. The band are often considered a precursor to the new wave of British heavy metal, which re-energised heavy metal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though several guitarists and drummers have played in Motörhead, most of their best-selling albums and singles feature the work of “Fast” Eddie Clarke on guitar and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums.
Motörhead released 22 studio albums, 10 live recordings, 12 compilation albums, and five EPs over a career spanning 40 years. Usually a power trio, they had particular success in the early 1980s with several successful singles in the UK Top 40 chart. The albums Overkill, Bomber, Ace of Spades, and particularly No Sleep ’til Hammersmith cemented Motörhead’s reputation as a top-tier rock band. The band are ranked number 26 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. As of 2016, they have sold more than 15 million albums worldwide.
Motörhead are typically classified as heavy metal, and their fusion of punk rock into the genre helped to pioneer speed metal and thrash metal. Their lyrics typically covered such topics as war, good versus evil, abuse of power, promiscuous sex, substance abuse, and, most famously, gambling, the latter theme being the focus of their hit song “Ace of Spades”.
Motörhead has been credited with being part of and influencing numerous musical scenes, thrash metal and speed metal especially. From the mid-1970s onward, however, Lemmy insisted that they were a rock and roll band. He has said that they had more in common with punk bands, but with their own unique sound, Motörhead is embraced in both punk and metal scenes.
Lemmy died on 28 December 2015 after being initially diagnosed with an undisclosed aggressive form of cancer, which was later revealed as prostate cancer, and heart failure, after which drummer Mikkey Dee and guitarist Phil Campbell both confirmed that Motörhead would not continue as a band.