Ian Kilmister — the iconic Lemmy of British heavy metal pioneers Motörhead — died Monday at age 70 of “extremely aggressive cancer,” the band said.
Kilmister — who legendarily survived diabetes and implantation of a heart defibrillator — was diagnosed with the disease just two days ago, the band said in a statement.
“There is no easy way to say this,” Motörhead said. “Our mighty, noble friend Lemmy passed away today after a short battle with an extremely aggressive cancer.
“He had learnt of the disease on December 26th, and was at home, sitting in front of his favorite video game from The Rainbow which had recently made it’s way down the street, with his family,” the band said. “We cannot begin to express our shock and sadness, there aren’t words.”
Motörhead had canceled several recent performances because of what the band said was a lung infection.
The band abandoned its Sept. 1 concert in Austin, Texas, with Kilmister telling the audience, “I can’t do it,” and walking offstage. The band blamed altitude sickness — Kilmister had recently spent time in Colorado — and said it was looking forward to going back out on the road in February.
Kilmister, a raw-voiced singer and powerful heavy metal bassist, formed Motörhead in 1975 and was its sole remaining original member. The band’s 22 albums included the landmarks “Ace of Spades” — and the hit single of the same name — “Overkill” and “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith.”
Its most recent album, “Bad Magic” debuted at No. 1 in much of Europe and hit the Top 40 in the United States. The titles of several other of its hits and albums can’t be reproduced on a family-friendly website.
Prominent rock musicians have lobbied in recent years for Motörhead to be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Acts like Black Sabbath and Green Day have said it helped to form their musical philosophies, citing it as a foundational influence in heavy metal and punk rock.