Lemmy's original name for Motörhead was Bastard, but his manager informed him that a band called Bastard would never be allowed on British TV's Top of the Pops.

Photo by Ken Settle

We celebrate the legendary life of a beloved bassist whose wild authenticity, intense spirit, and guitar-like approach to the 4-string laid the groundwork for a generation of thrash-metal outfits.

Lemmy Kilmister sang with his head tilted straight back, like a wolf howling at the moon. His voice was charged with the same animal ferocity—a Jack Daniel's-cured growl that was a constant reminder of the danger within the bloodline of rock 'n' roll. And his bass playing with Motörhead was no less intense, drenched in distortion from a wall of overdriven Marshalls and punched out by a pick pummeling the strings of the three-humbucker signature model 4004 LK Rickenbackers he played for the last 20 years of his life.

All of that was silenced on Monday, December 28, 2015, when Lemmy died in his Los Angeles home at age 70 from an aggressive form of cancer that he'd been diagnosed with just a few days before. An early report stated that he died on his couch playing a video game, but given what we know of his proclivities Lemmy probably would've preferred to die with his hands wrapped around a slot-machine arm and a whiskey rather than a joystick. The legendary bassist had been stricken by heart issues and diabetes in recent years, and the health problems weren't just bad enough to cancel a European tour in 2013 and a handful of stops on a U.S. tour this fall—they actually induced Lemmy to quit smoking and reduce his drinking. He switched from his beloved Jack Daniel's—he reportedly consumed a bottle a day for more than 30 years—to vodka, which he considered a less potent beverage.

Read MoreShow less