MOTRHEAD Drummer: WRZEL Was 'More Rock And Roll Than All Of Us Put Together'

MOTRHEAD drummer Mikkey Dee spoke to the Swedish newspaper Expressen about the passing of his former bandmate, guitarist Michael "Wrzel" Burston.

Although no official statement has been made, it is believed that Burston died of ventricular fibrillation, caused by cardiomyopathy, better known as heart disease. He was 61 years old.

According to Dee, MOTRHEAD frontman Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister learned of Wrzel's passing on Saturday (July 9) through the band's attorney. "I called our tour manager, who was very surprised. After that, it was confirmed by several sources," Mikkey said.

The drummer had fond memories of his former bandmate. "He was wonderful," Mikkey said of Wrzel. "He wrote lots of fucking great MOTRHEAD riffs. I remember missing that when he was not in the band anymore. I missed the simple, classic MOTRHEAD riffs. We never wrote those after that. They ended with him."

After Wrzel quit MOTRHEAD in 1995, his former bandmates kept in touch with the musician whom Mikkey described as a "family member" and "more rock and roll than all of us put together."

"He was wonderful, he was really funny," Mikkey said. "There was a lot of rock and roll in the old man."

Whenever MOTRHEAD would tour England, Wrzel would come up on stage and play a song with them. On Sunday, MOTRHEAD was scheduled to perform at the U.K. edition of the Sonisphere festival just outside London. "I thought I would see him tomorrow," Mikkey said on Saturday. "He usually gets up on stage and does a song with us, but I guess he will not be showing up this time."

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.

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.

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