Earlier this month, online poker giant PokerStars asked 1,000 of its European customers to select their favorite poker-themed song from a list of choices.
There were two finalists: Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades.” And according to the announcement, Motörhead’s 1980 classic “not only won, but crushed” Gaga’s breakthrough hit from 2008.
Although this was hardly an iron-clad scientific survey, it’s an honor that probably would have pleased Motörhead founder and frontman Ian Fraser “Lemmy” Kilmister, who died of cancer at the age of 70 in December 2015. While he was not particularly renowned as a gambler, games of chance were regardless a recurring theme in many of the group’s live-fast-die-young-themed songs, most of which featured lyrics written by Kilmister.
Born in Wales and raised in Liverpool, he was a rock and roll lifer, playing in a succession of rock bands and working as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and The Move in the 1960s before finding success with the psychedelic-era band Hawkwind, whose 1972 hit “Silver Machine” he sang. Kilmister was ejected from Hawkwind in 1975 and, inspired by the MC5, immediately formed Motörhead, which went through a couple of years’ growing pains before gelling around a lineup featuring drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor (who passed away a couple of months before Kilmister) and guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke. That lineup created a pioneering fusion of punk and heavy metal that was a vast influence on artists ranging from Metallica to Nirvana and also was an unlikely chart success in England, where its live 1981 “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” album was No. 1.
While the trio splintered in the early 1980s, Kilmister kept the group going with different members until just weeks before his death.