Michael “Würzel” Burston, former guitarist for Motörhead, has died at age 61. Tim Butcher, longtime bass tech for Motörhead frontman Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, broke the news with a July 9 posting on his Facebook page, stating only “RIP Wurzle , Great guitarist an a complete gent .. we will miss you…”. No official statement has been made, but it has been widely reported that Burston died of ventricular fibrillation, caused by cardiomyopathy, better known as heart disease.
Würzel joined Motörhead in 1984 and played with the band for eleven years, appearing on six studio albums plus a smattering of live albums, videos and compilations. Prior to being in Motörhead, the English guitarist cut his chops in the bands Bastard and Warfare. Burston also served in the British Army, earning the nickname Worzel due to his resemblance to the English fictional character Worzel Gummidge. Lemmy reportedly insisted he add the umlaut because it was more “metal.”
After leaving Motörhead, Würzel appeared on albums by several other punk and metal bands, including Splodgenessabounds, WVKEAF and Disgust. He also released an experimental ambient album called “Chill Out or Die” in 1998. More recently, Würzel had started a new band, Leader of Down, who had announced that their debut would be released in 2010, but it never came out.
In 2009, Würzel made an appearance with Motörhead at the Hammersmith Apollo, where they performed their classic song “Ace of Spades.”