Motorhead Guitarist Wurzel Dies At 61

By Joseph Giannone 2011-07-11 21:43:35
Heavy Metal fans are known for being aggressive and fairly angry people. If you haven’t been to a metal concert let me explain what happens. When the music starts to sprawl out of their speakers, a loud euphoric sense of metal rage starts to engulf the participants in this bastion of ritual mawshing and screaming. Trust me when I say they live up to their reputation, but when one of their own passes away, all past assumptions are thrown out the window. On July 9th, the guitarist from Motörhead died of ventricular fibrillation caused by heart disease. The single named Würzel was 61 when he passed and had all metal fans in tears.

Michael Burston, aka Wurzel, was born in 1949 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. He joined Motörhead in 1984 alongside the second guitarist Phil Campbell after Brian Robertson's short-lived time with the group. According to Spinner, Wurzel joined the band after writing a letter to Lemmy, the lead singer of Motorhead: “I wrote [Lemmy] a letter and sent a tape, and he phoned me up for an audition. He also said, 'We'll probably end up with an unknown guitarist', and there was no one in the country who was more unknown than I was.”

Burston also played on nine studio and live albums with Motörhead. He quit the band in 1995, but after his departure, he would occasionally perform in subsequent albums the group would make. While most of us are thinking this guy is a badass, wait until you hear this: what makes the guitarist more metal than the fans he played too, a term that can be equally enduring, was that he was a corporal in the British Army. It was there where he earned his nickname, Wurzel, on the account of his grizzly appearance, which made him a perfect fit for the rest of this group.

For many fans who listen to heavy metal or hard rock, there are three bands that immediately come to mind when contemplating the precursors to the genre. The first band is Black Sabbath. You know that group, the one who is led by Ozzy Osbourne before his drug addictions carried him away into a crazy train. The next one is Thin Lizzy, the only hard rock group of that time who had an Irish black guy as the lead singer. Finally, the group that inspires most people to cherish their Slayer records with heightened anger is that little band from London, Motorhead. Throughout the late 1970’s and 80’s Motorhead spread it’s metal wings to a wide range of audiences and was, along with Sabbath and Thin Lizzy, one of the founders of heavy metal. Wurzel's legacy won’t be forgotten.
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