According to a posting on the Facebook page of Tim Butcher, longtime bass tech for MOTRHEAD frontman Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister, former MOTRHEAD guitarist Michael "Wrzel" Burston passed away earlier today (Saturday, July 9). No official statement has been made, but it is believed that Burston died of ventricular fibrillation, caused by cardiomyopathy, better known as heart disease. He was 61 years old.
Butcher called Burston a "great guitarist" and a "complete gent." "We will miss you," he added.
Before joining MOTRHEAD in 1984, Burston had been a corporal in the Army, serving in Germany and Ireland with the 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, and had played in the bands BASTARD and WARFARE. Joining another relatively unknown guitarist, Phil Campbell, they played together at a MOTRHEAD audition, and both were taken on.
Burston acquired the nickname Wrzel while in the Army, being compared to the character Worzel Gummidge due to his scarecrow-style hair and bumpkin-like manner. Lemmy reportedly demanded that Wrzel add an umlaut to the "U" in his name, for "heavy metal effect."
Wrzel can be heard on the following MOTRHEAD albums:
* No Remorse (1984)
* Orgasmatron (1986)
* Rock 'n' Roll (1987)
* N Sleep at All (1988)
* The Birthday Party (1990)
* 1916 (1991)
* March r Die (1992)
* Bastards (1993)
* Sacrifice (1995)
Wrzel left MOTRHEAD in 1995.
For the past couple of years, Burston has played with a new band called LEADER OF DOWN, which last month headlined the main stage at the U.K. fundraising music festival "Never Mind The Bullocks" in aid of Midlands Air Ambulance.
Wrzel joined MOTRHEAD on stage on November 28, 2009 at the Hammersmith Apollo to perform the band's classic song "Ace Of Spades". Video footage of his appearance can be seen below.