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Würzel

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Michael "Würzel" Burston (1949-2011)

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Biography

Michael Burston (born 23 October 1949), commonly known by the stage name Würzel, is an English musician. Formerly a guitarist in the heavy metal band Motörhead, Würzel is currently a figure in British ambient music.

Burston was born in Cheltenham, England. Before joining Motörhead in 1984, Burston had been a corporal in the Army, serving in Germany 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 Motörhead audition, and both were taken on. The new, four-piece line-up made its debut recording a backing track for The Young Ones on 14 February, 1984. Burston acquired the nickname Wurzel whilst in the Army, being compared to the character Worzel Gummidge due his scarecrow-style hair and bumpkin-like manner. Motörhead singer Lemmy demanded that Würzel add an umlaut to the ‘U’ in his name, for heavy metal effect.

Burston saw a number of interesting changes to the line-up in the band, each involving the drummer, until he left in 1995. Although he played on Sacrifice, he left the band before the tour. He was not replaced and Motörhead remains a three-piece. Recently, he has made a few guest appearances with the band: at the 2008 Download Festival and at the 2009 Guilfest, as well as a few other appearances on the band’s 2008 UK tour.

In 1998, quasi-inspired by psychedelically-informed experiences in Ghent, Belgium, Würzel recorded and released an ambient, improvised avant-garde album entitled Chill Out Or Die.

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