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.
Wow, April managed to take plenty of Rock and Roll royalty over the years and this week sees the anniversaries of some pretty high profile legends as well as some really controversial figures.
The 5th of April 1994 was the day a global audience of MTV news watchers gawped on in horror at the news breaking that day saying Kurt Cobain had been found dead in his garage from a shotgun wound to the head. such tragic circumstances for such a young man whilst he might have been a troubled man he did have a daughter he left behind. Prior to his death Cobain was having problems over in Europe with his drug addiction and was hospitalised. His band Nirvana were just about the biggest thing on the planet at the time as they headlined festivals and their third album had just sold millions globally it seemed from the outside that he had everything he could possibly have wanted at his feet yet inside he just couldn’t cope and couldn’t see any way out of it other than to take his own life. The twenty-five years have just flown by who knows where he’d be in today’s musical climate and he and his band will forever be frozen in time having achieved so much in a relatively short space of time his music will live on. Buy Nirvana Here
Two days after Cobain checked out the music world lost another talented soul and cool cat that was Lee Brilleaux the chain-smoking, harmonica honkin’ frontman for the most excellent Dr. Feelgood. Born Lee John Collinson on the 10th of May 1952 the South African would be brought up in West London later moving with his family to Canvey Island where he would later carve out his own little spot in music history by forming Dr. Feelgood with Wilco Johnson in 1971. He continued the band long after the departure of fellow co-founder Johnson up until his untimely death from Lymphoma in 94. Probably most famous for their debut album ‘Down By The Jetty’ that no doubt influenced many in the new wave/pub rock scene that happened in the late 70’s early 80’s and the hit single ‘Milk & Alcohol’ which was a top ten single from the ‘Practice Practice’ album. Its also true that he helped start Stiff records with a loan of £500. RIP Lee. Buy Dr Feelgood Here
On the sixth of April in ’98 lead singer of the Plasmatics the enigmatic larger than life frontwoman Wendy O Williams also took her own life with a shotgun. Williams had relative success with her punk band the Plasmatics and their brand of shock rock which was a punk rock version of the Alice Cooper show with plenty of chaos and her iconic Mohawk she also famously sang a shambolic duet with Lemmy on ‘Stand By Your Man’ and the far better ‘No Class’.
Williams hailed from New York and is most known for her work with the Plasmatics as well as her solo albums but it was the punk band where she got the most notoriety after being arrested in several states for public indecency after appearing naked and simulating masturbation on stage she then took to wearing the gaffa tape over her nipples to avoid arrest.
Anyway, after her duet with Lemmy, she got Gene Simmons to produce her ‘WOW’ solo album and got the members of kiss including Stanley to play on it. In the later part of the 80’s she reformed The Plasmatics. By the 90’s she’d had enough and retired with her partner to Connecticut where she worked with animals and shying away from any sort of public life she tried to take her own life by stabbing herself in the chest it wasn’t until the April of 98 that she went into the woods with a gun and took her own life leaving her partner a note. Her passing shook the rock and roll community with the likes of Joey Ramone making a statement as well as her old friend Lemmy. There was also a tribute concert put on at CBGB where the surviving members of The Plasmatics played a short set in her honour and even a few years ago Record Store Day reissued a record of Plasmatics tunes on a special 11″ disc back in 2014 entitled ‘Fuck n Roll’ (very original) so on the 6th of April raise a glass and play a Wendy O tune Rest In Peace Wendy O Williams ‘The Queen of Shock Rock’ Buy WoW Here
Also in April Per Yngve Ohlin died on the 8 April 1991. Committing suicide in possibly the most horrific way back in 91 Per was better known as ‘Dead’ lead throat for the Black Metal legends Mayhem. He also had a stint in Morbid and is infamously known as a pioneer in the Black Metal scene. He slit his own wrists and throat before blowing the top of his head off with a shotgun. He did leave a suicide note that ended with the words, “Excuse The Blood”! Don’t let it be said that Black Metal lacks a sense of humor no matter how dark.
Euronymous found his bandmate and before contacting the police, he allegedly went to a shop and bought a disposable camera with then photographed the body of his bandmate. Euronymous also put out there that he had made a stew with bits of Dead’s brain and had made necklaces with bits of his skull. Euronymous claimed to have given these necklaces to musicians he thought worthy, which was confirmed by several other members of the scene, like Bård ‘Faust’ Eithun, Metalion, and Morgan Håkansson. the pictures were developed in secret and kept at their record store Helvete before finding their way to the head of Warmaster Records in South America who used the picture on the cover of the Mayhem live album ‘Dawn Of The Black Hearts’ as incredible and fucked up as it sounds it was possibly the catalyst for a spiral of mayhem (no pun intended) within the scene that was already pretty fucked up but never the less made the band infamous in Heavy Metal circles and would see to it that Mayhem would be immortalized forever. Dark times indeed RIP young man. Buy Mayhem Here
Finally, we salute the passing of the Pistols Svengali the one the only Mr. Malcolm McLaren impresario, visual artist, performer, musician, clothes designer, master manipulator shop keeper. Born on 22nd of January 1946 he passed away on April the 8th 2010. At only 64 years old McLarens life was brought down by Cancer of the Abdomen Laid to rest in Higate Cemetry McLaren will be most remembered for his Rock and Roll Swindle and his master manipulation of the music world during the Sex Pistols brief time spearheading the punk movement of the late 70’s and narrating the Rock and Roll Swindle. If you don’t know his story then where have you been Let it rock became ‘Sex’ which is where he assembled the Pistols and the rest, as they say, is History.
He did manage along the way to get arrested at the Queens Jubilee, fuck up the New York Dolls and replace Thunders with Blackie Lawless!! (Go figure) Put together Bow wow wow with the then 13-year-old singer Annabella Lewin and also make Buffalo Girls go round the outside. McLaren lived life to the full and whatever he turned his hand to seemed to be extremely successful at it. With almost a decade in the rear view mirror of life, we salute McLaren and his contribution to music RiP sir. Buy Malcolm McLaren Here