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See Lemmy Kilmister’s Ashes Enshrined at Wacken Music Festival

Jul 15, 2023

By Kory Grow

Two of Motörhead’s surviving members, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, participated in enshrining the ashes of the band’s late frontman, Lemmy Kilmister, in a ceremony at the Wacken Open Air heavy metal festival in Germany this week. Video from the event shows the two musicians holding what looks like a small pyramid with Kilmister’s signature Civil War–styled Hardee hat perched above it before placing it in a display case.

Dee explained in the video how much a memorial like this meant to him. They’d previously enshrined some of Kilmister’s ashes at France’s Hellfest last year. “We’d like to spread it around the whole world [at whatever big festivals that we enjoyed, or Lemmy enjoyed,” he said. “His spirit has always been here, or at these festivals, and now we have a little bit of a physical deal here as well.”

“People come and pay their respects for a long, long time to come,” Campbell said.

The ashes are housed in a display at “Lemmy’s Bar” in the village of Wacken. The display also includes Kilmister’s hat, cowboy boots, bass guitar, and Marshall amplifier. The organizers also replicated Kilmister’s dressing room, right down to the bottle of Jack Daniel’s and Kinder eggs he would feast on before concerts.

Campbell and Dee also joined Doro during her performance to play Motörhead’s signature song, “Ace of Spades.” The performance included drones floating over the stage in the formation of Kilmister’s face.

Kilmister died in 2015 at age 70 after a battle with cancer. His friend, Ozzy Osbourne, remembered him fondly in an interview with Rolling Stone. “He was a character,” Osbourne said. “There ain’t many characters in music today. … [He was] an original. He lived the lifestyle. Sex, drugs and rock & roll, that was Lemmy.”

Metallica’s Lars Ulrich remembered Kilmister’s beneficence, recalling how the band welcomed him into their dressing room before he’d formed Metallica, and let him watch them write “Iron Fist.” “There was this openness and embrace, not only of this fucking lost 16-year-old who was just so high on what they were doing, but this openness to let people into their inner circle and it motivated me,” he told Rolling Stone. “When I went back to California later that week, I had met this kid, James Hetfield, about six months before, and we spent 24 hours together. I could tell he was a super cool guy, but nothing much came out of that interaction. But later in the week after I got back, I called him up and said, ‘We’ve got to form a band together. I just hung out with Motörhead. … I’m feeling it, this otherworldly calling.’”