Entertainment & Arts

Lemmy of Motorhead: Singer's funeral held in Los Angeles

Family and fellow rock stars paid tribute to Motorhead frontman and "free spirit" Lemmy at his funeral in LA.

The British musician, who was born Ian Fraser Kilmister in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, died on 28 December, aged 70, just two days after discovering he had an "extremely aggressive cancer".

Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, and Slash from Guns N' Roses all spoke at the service.

Fans were asked not to attend but a live stream was put on YouTube.

A photograph of Motorhead was on display at the service chapel, together with a bank of speakers, Lemmy's boots and an urn shaped like the singer's trademark black brimmed hat.

The service at Forest Lawn Memorial Cemetery began with an introduction by the band's manager Todd Singerman, who welcomed guests to the "celebration of Lemmy's life".

"We all know he would not have stood for anything formal or sombre," he added.

Obituary: Lemmy

The singer and bassist's son Paul Inder recalled his father's life as a "stage warrior" and "free spirit".

Lemmy, who lived in Los Angeles, had "felt something was wrong" in August last year and appeared frail, he said.

"He wasn't a religious man and praying for a miracle was something he would have viewed as a delusional act, but he was profoundly spiritual," said Mr Inder.

"Travel well, my dear father. You are back out on the road for a longest tour to the great gig in the sky."

Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash told the service: "Lemmy was somebody I just feel so honoured to have been friends with. He lived his life the way he wanted to... his music and personality will last forever."

The service also heard from Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Judas Priest singer Rob Halford and Anthrax frontman Scott Ian.

It ended with an emotional speech from Dave Grohl in which he recalled his first meeting with Lemmy more than 20 years ago. He described him as "my hero... the one true rock 'n' roller" but also someone who "set such a great example because he was so kind to everyone".

Then Lemmy's bass guitar was plugged in to a stack of amplifiers and the volume turned up, with the congregation applauding as feedback from the speakers filled the chapel.

At Lemmy's favourite bar

By Regan Morris, BBC News, Los Angeles

Hundreds of fans packed Lemmy's favourite bar, the Rainbow on the Sunset Strip, while the funeral service was taking place.

On the pavement outside, they placed flowers, cigarettes and bottles of Jack Daniels on a makeshift shrine. On the bar's patio, they signed their names and messages of thanks on a giant picture of Lemmy.

An exotic dancer named Scarlett described him as a "classic rock and roll guy".

"I didn't pay for a drink for a year when I used to hang out with Lemmy," she said.

Inside, Motorhead played loud before the funeral and fans then watched the ceremony streamed live on a big screen above the bar's fireplace.

Joe Bagnato came from Florida to be at the Rainbow.

"There is no Motorhead unless Lemmy is behind that Rickenbacker bass," he said. "But the legacy will live on with every single album he gave us throughout the years. It was just straight, kick-me-in-the-face rock and roll and that's what I love."

Fans were urged to watch the service together in a bar, club or at home, and the YouTube broadcast attracted more than 250,000 views across the world.

A message from the band ahead of the service said: "Wherever you are, please get together and watch the service with fellow Motorheadbangers and friends."

Wild reputation

Lemmy formed Motorhead in 1975 after being thrown out of space-rock band Hawkwind, and went on to record 22 studio albums with the band.

Image copyright YouTube/PA
Image caption A photograph of Motorhead was on display at the service, together with Lemmy's boots

His ferocious bass playing and his appetite for drink, drugs and women earned him a reputation as one of the wildest frontmen in rock.

At the time of his death, Mr Singerman told BBC News the star had cancer "in his brain and neck" and that his sudden death had come as "a massive shock".

He said Lemmy, who turned 70 on Christmas Eve, had died while sitting in front of his favourite video game with his family.

Mr Singerman described Lemmy as "the pinnacle, he's up there with one of his idols, Elvis".

He added: "He was one of the last true rock stars left, this guy lived it every day."

Lemmy was known for his penchant for whiskey and cola, but Mr Singerman joked that in recent years, the frontman had "switched to vodka and orange - he thought it was healthier".

"He was one of the kindest men I ever met - he was the people's man."

Those paying tribute included Ozzy Osbourne, Queen's Brian May, Metallica and Kiss star Gene Simmons.

Since his death, more than 100,000 fans have signed an online petition for the singer's nickname to live on through a newly discovered chemical element, which they have asked to be named "Lemmium".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption With Motorhead, Lemmy had hits including Ace of Spades and Overkill
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lemmy, seen here backstage at City Hall, Newcastle, in 1982, had lived in Los Angeles for the last 25 years

Related Topics

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites