Motorhead guitarist Michael ‘Wurzel’ Burston Passes Away At 61

Picture 15
YouTube screenshot of Motorhead on “The Young Ones”
Picture 15
YouTube screenshot of Motorhead on "The Young Ones"

Motorhead guitarist Michael ‘Wurzel’ Burston strung his last chord Sunday, as he died at the age of 61, according to Entertainment Weekly. The guitarist passed away after suffering from heart disease.

Burston was a member of the British outfit between 1984 and 1996. He appeared on seven of the group’s albums, notably 1916 and March or Die. In his other music ventures, Burston released two solo albums. According to The Rolling Stone, he was working with his new band, Leader of Down.

Rolling Stone says that Burston acquired the name Wurzel because he was serving in Germany “as a corporal in the British army.” He was named after a British character Worzel Gummidge because of his scarecrow-style hair and his manner. Lemmy Kilmister, Motorhead’s leader, suggested adding an umlaut to the name because it sounded more “metal” apparently.

His former band, Motorhead, performed a tribute to Wurzel during their Sonisphere set, according to NME. While he wasn’t in the band, Wurzel made appearances with the band, most recently playing at the Download Festival in 2008 and on select tour dates in 2009.

The band has made a huge impact on today’s metal scene and even to gamers. In 2008, Microsoft released a bonus download, where fans can download three Motorhead songs and play them on the popular game, Guitar Hero III.

Motorhead formed in 1975. Wurzel tried out for the band in 1984 and was accepted immediately.

The band has released 21 studio albums, most recently The World Is Yours in 2010. Each of those albums has fared very well, as the band has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, including 15 million in the U.S.A.

Motorhead is set to begin touring in August, starting in Catton Park Walton on Trent, Der.