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Lemmy Kilmister: The Late Motorhead Frontman’s Billboard Chart History

The rocker charted multiple titles onto Billboard's rankings, but perhaps not the song you're thinking of.

The Billboard chart history of Lemmy Kilmister, who died Monday (Dec. 28) at age 70, covers multiple decades, beginning in the early 1970s and continuing through earlier this year, from the rocker’s pre-Motorhead group Hawkwind to, most recently, Motorhead’s album Bad Magic.

It might be surprising to learn, however, that the Billboard chart archives of Motorhead do not include perhaps the band’s best-known song, “Ace of Spades.”


As is sometimes the case with bands who may have flourished in their genre-specific circles, or in their home countries, early on, Motorhead’s chart history swelled deeper into its career. Plus, Billboard‘s Hard Rock Albums and Top Rock Albums charts, on which Motorhead has found success in more recent years, began in 2006, while the Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart didn’t launch until 1981, six years into the band’s existence.

Still, it’s important to note that “Spades” was a No. 15 hit on the Official U.K. Singles chart in November 1980 and has since gone on to become the band’s best-selling song in the U.S., having sold 478,000 since 2003, according to Nielsen Music. “Spades” also received renewed attention stateside, as many classic rock songs have, by appearing in the first edition of the Guitar Hero series, which was released in time for Christmas 2005. The song subsequently appeared on Guitar Hero: Metallica in early 2009.

Nonetheless, Kilmister boasts a lengthy Billboard chart history, which began with his pre-Motorhead group Hawkwind, a space-rock act for which he played bass and sang between 1972 and 1975. Hawkwind charted three albums on the Billboard 200, peaking as high as No. 110 in 1974 with its second entry, Hall of the Mountain Grill. Two other sets, 1973’s Space Ritual/Alive in Liverpool and London and 1975’s Warrior on the Edge of Time, reached Nos. 179 and 150, respectively.

In 1982, Kilmister charted on the Billboard 200 for the first time with Motorhead with Iron Fist, the band’s fifth studio album, which peaked at No. 174. Four more sets followed through 1991: Another Perfect Day (No. 153, 1983); Orgasmatron (No. 157, 1986); Rock ‘N’ Roll (No. 150, 1987) and 1916 (No. 142, 1991).

After nine studio albums that missed the Billboard 200 (including 2006’s Kiss of Death, which hit No. 10 on Heatseekers Albums), Motorhead returned to the tally with 2008’s Motorizer. The LP granted Kilmister and the band their best chart placement ever at the time (No. 82), while Motorhead also appeared on Hard Rock Albums for the first time (No. 11).

Three more charted albums followed: 2011’s The World Is Yours hit No. 94 on the Billboard 200, No. 4 on Hard Rock Albums and No. 24 on Top Rock Albums, while 2013’s Aftershock granted the group its Billboard 200 high to-date: No. 22. It also peaked at No. 3 on Hard Rock Albums and No. 8 Top Rock Albums.

In September 2015, Bad Magic, Motorhead’s final album with Kilmister, debuted at career-bests of Nos. 2 and 5 on Hard Rock Albums and Top Rock Albums, respectively, and became the band’s second top 40 title on the Billboard 200 (No. 35).