Würzel was born Michael Richard Burston on 23 October 1949. He joined Motörhead in 1984 and played up until 1995, playing on eight albums including two live albums. Würzel died at the age of 61, following heart complications.
He joined the same time as another unknown guitarist from Wales entered the Motorhead ranks a certain Phil Campbell. Lemmy obviously liked them both so offered them the job and the iconic three-piece had now become a four piece making their debut as a band on The Young Ones on 14 February 1984 Valentines Day.
After leaving the ranks of Motorhead Würzel released a solo EP in 87 as well as some dodgy Jazz-Rock instrumentals. On this day in 2011, Lemmys bass technician reported that Würzel had died. The cause of death was CardioMyopathy. Before passing, Würzel was working on new material with his band, ‘Leader of Down’. The following day, Lemmy dedicated Motörhead’s performance at Sonisphere Festival to his memory.
His recording contribution with Motorhead shouldn’t be underestimated playing on some of the bands best albums they ever did such as – No Remorse (Compilation, 1984), Orgasmatron (1986), Rock ‘n’ Roll (1987), Nö Sleep at All (Live album, 1988), The Birthday Party (Live album, 1990), 1916 (1991), March ör Die (1992), Bastards (1993), Sacrifice (1995), BBC Live & In-Session (Live album, 2005).
He earned the nickname “Würzel ” as a soldier because of his West Country roots and disheveled appearance, which led his fellow recruits (when he was a soldier prior to joining Motorhead) to compare him with the TV character Worzel Gummidge. Lemmy described him as “nearly a basket case” in his 2002 autobiography – encouraged him to add an umlaut to his name rather than go by his birth name, in line with the spelling of the band’s name besides putting Ü is like the Ö in the band name and way more metal. Würzel became the jester and a perfect counterfoil to Lemmy’s sterner image. Lemmy recalled a time when he lived up to his chaotic jester-like lifestyle when he ran into Bill Wyman at a London venue and almost knocked him out such was his level of excitement. Lemmy recounted, “Würzel ran down there, all excited, and, just as he comes to the bottom, Bill Wyman comes along, and he hits him full-on and lands him flat on his back … Great start to the evening, you know? ‘Hello, Bill, I’ve always been a fan of yours. Oh sorry, have I knocked you out?’ ”
Despite leaving the band he did remain friends with Lemmy and made several guest appearances at shows up until his untimely death including Guilfest in ’09. Rest in peace Würzel.