Ace of Spades (song): Wikis


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"Ace of Spades"
Single by Motörhead
from the album Ace of Spades
B-side Dirty Love
Released 27 October 1980
Format 7"
Recorded 4 August – 15 September 1980
Jackson's Studios, Rickmansworth, UK
Genre Heavy metal, speed metal[1]
Length 2:49
Label Bronze
Writer(s) Eddie Clarke, Ian Kilmister, Phil Taylor
Producer Vic Maile
Motörhead singles chronology
"Ace of Spades"
"Motorhead (live)"
Alternate cover
Christmas picture sleeve edition

"Ace of Spades" is a song by the English band Motörhead, released in 1980 as a single and the title track to the album Ace of Spades. The song spent 12 weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #15.



Initially issued as a 7" vinyl single on 27 October 1980 as a preview to the album Ace of Spades and autumn tour, Bronze Records also released a 12" vinyl pressing in special Christmas picture sleeves, limited to 50,000 copies. The picture of the band in Santa outfits used on the cover was taken at the Aylesbury Fair, while the band were on tour.[1]

Bronze also issued German and Spanish 7" vinyl versions which had a different sleeves, as well as a Japanese release, with a colour picture insert with song lyrics in English and Japanese. One sided test pressings (not mis-presses, but used in the trade) escaped the pressing plant and are on the market.[2]

For the lyrics, Lemmy said he "used gambling metaphors, mostly cards and dice - when it comes to that sort of thing, I'm more into the one-arm bandits actually, but you can't really sing about spinning fruit, and the wheels coming down".[3]

On 6 September 1980 Lemmy was interviewed by Graham Neil on BBC Radio 1's Rock On Saturday show, "Bomber", "Ace of Spades" and "Love Me Like a Reptile" were played. The following month, on 6 October and 20 October, the band played the song on BBC TV show Top of the Pops.[4]

Critical reception

The song is considered to be the definitive Motörhead anthem,[5] and "put a choke on the English music charts and proved to all that a band could succeed without sacrificing its blunt power and speed".[6]

In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at #27 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, stating "This song has an intro which wouldn't be out of place ushering in the end of the world". In 2009 it was named both the 10th greatest hard rock and metal song of all time by VH1.[7]

Track listing

  1. "Ace of Spades" (Ian Kilmister, Eddie Clarke, Phil Taylor) - 2:49
  2. "Dirty Love" (Kilmister, Clarke, Taylor) - 2:57


Other versions

The song became a staple of the band's live set, with Lemmy acknowledging that despite becoming "sick" of performing it, they "can't ditch Ace of Spades, it wouldn't be right. If I go to see Little Richard, I expect to hear Good Golly Miss Molly or I'd be pissed off".[8] Live versions have appeared on the albums No Sleep 'til Hammersmith (1981), Nö Sleep at All (1988), Everything Louder than Everyone Else (1999), Live at Brixton Academy (2003) and Better Motörhead than Dead: Live at Hammersmith (2007).

The 1988 live version from Nö Sleep at All was released as a single "Ace of Spades (live)", although later withdrawn.

It was the first song that Phil Campbell and Wurzel played with the band - on the Bambi episode of The Young Ones. The line up is particularly rare until 1987: Lemmy, Campbell, Wurzel and Taylor. Taylor had already left the band by the time the filming started, but kept to his promise of making the performance.[4]

In September 1993 WGAF Records re-released the original 1980s track on CD-single, cassette single, 12" vinyl picture sleeve and picture disc versions, the song was coupled with "Louie Louie", "Dirty Love", and "Ace of Spades (The CCN Remix)", and although the band were not too pleased with the CCN Remix version, this single peaked at #23 in the UK charts.[4]

Cover versions

  • Punk band "Battalion of Saints" covered the song on their 1984 album "Second Coming"
  • Hardcore punk band Blood for Blood covered the song as a hidden track on their album Livin' in Exile, and has been featured on several Motörhead tribute albums.
  • The Southern American punk metal band The Cooters covered "Ace of Spades" on their 2005 album "Chaos or Bust." The band frequently plays the songs live, as well as other Motorhead classics.
  • The song is covered by sludge metal pioneers "Crowbar"
  • This song has been covered by The Reverend Horton Heat during live performances.
  • A Dutch version of "Ace of Spades" (Called "Schoppen Aas") is covered by the Dutch Hard Rock band Peter Pan Speedrock. Dikke Dennis performs the vocals on this version.
  • Southern Metal band He Is Legend has covered the song live.
  • The song has been covered by the band Ween at live concerts.
  • The Swedish Viking metal band Bathory covered it with a much slower pace than the original.
  • German thrash/black metal band Sodom did a cover on their 2003 live album One Night in Bangkok.
  • Swedish metal band Drain STH released a droning 5:02 cover version as a bonus track on the 1998 reissue of the album Horror Wrestling and have played it live.
  • Hayseed Dixie, a satirical bluegrass band has covered the song, appropriating the piece for acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, banjo and vocals.
  • The German metal band J.B.O. covered the Song in a unplugged Version called "Ace of Spades umgepflügt" (Ace of Spades plowed up)
  • The Shop Assistants recorded a version for a John Peel session in 1986.[9]
  • British rock band Stereophonics often briefly incorporate the chorus of the song into live performances of their single The Bartender and the Thief.
  • The song was covered by Tokyo Yankees with hide and Pata at Extasy Summit 1991.
  • The song was covered in a ska-folk style by the Macedonian ska band "Superhiks"
  • Norwegian blues gitarist Bjørn Berge covered the song on his 2004 album "St. Slide", and on his live album "Live in Europe" in 2008.
  • Satirical punk band The 3Tards from Toronto often used to cover Ace Of Spades before their breakup in 2009.
  • The Song is covered sometimes by the german Metalcore Band No End in Sight

In popular culture

Video games

  • The song was featured in the popular skateboarding game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3.
  • A cover version of "Ace of Spades", containing an extended guitar solo in the climax of the song, was featured in the 2005 music video game Guitar Hero for PlayStation 2. It was included in a downloadable 3-song pack for the Xbox 360 version of its successor, Guitar Hero II, as well.
  • The song also appears in 2K Sports Baseball title The Bigs.
  • A re-recording of the song, "Ace of Spades '08", is in the setlist of Rock Band 2, Rock Band Unplugged, Rock Band for iPhone, and Guitar Hero: Metallica.
  • "Ace of Spades" also appears in the PlayStation 2 karaoke game SingStar Amped.
  • Appears in a trailer for Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.
  • A mixed version appears in the 2009 music video game "DJ Hero".


  • In an episode of the Men Behaving Badly television sitcom, Gary and Tony play air guitar to the track.
  • In the Black Books episode Party (the last of series 3) the three main characters have a very drunken dancing competition to a portion of this song, with no clear winner (everyone just gets tired out and sits down, nursing their drinks).
  • The song was chosen to appear in the documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.
  • In comedy Give My Head Peace episode Canada, the beginning scene the alarm clock shows 5:59 then it turns to 6:00 and Ace of Spades starts playing full blast, from Uncle Andy's radio station, thus waking everybody in the house.
  • The song was used in the majority of the Creamy Muck Muck scenes of the CBBC children's programme, Dick and Dom in da Bungalow.
  • The song was used in Episode 1 of the fourth series of BBC's motoring show, Top Gear, that featured the Lotus Exige attempting to avoid missile lock from an Apache helicopter.
  • The song is often played in the background in previews of Sports Tonight, an Australian news programme on Channel Ten, Australia.
  • The Hayseed Dixie cover version was used as a background tune in the British antiques daytime gameshow Bargain Hunt.
  • The song was used at the beginning and end of the series 3 Skins episode, "Cook" (302).
  • The band performed the song on episode 7 of The Young Ones.
  • In the final episode of Nathan Barley the song is used when Pingu is the subject of firework prank
  • In Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, he used the music as a replacement for the theme tune of Question Time in a sketch.


  • The song was used in the movie Grosse Pointe Blank, during a gunfight in a convenience store between hitman Martin Blank (John Cusack) and another hitman sent after him, a teenager is playing an arcade game to the sound of Ace of Spades at maximum volume in his headphones and escapes unharmed, completely oblivious to the destruction unfolding around him.
  • The song is featured in the opening credits of Zombie Nightmare.
  • The song is used in the introductory scene for The Tremor Brothers in the movie Smokin' Aces, as well as in the teaser trailer.
  • The song appears in the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy Superbad starring Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill.
  • The song appears in the 2007 film Shoot 'Em Up during the shootout in Mr. Smith's hideout. It appears on the film's soundtrack as well.
  • The song appears in the documentary "Air Guitar Nation" as both an opening song, and played during a competition of air guitar.
  • The song appears in the 2004 film "Sex Lives of the Potato Men".


  • The song is used in the 1998 Golden Wonder Pot Noodle, the 2000 IKEA furniture, the 2003 Clark's Marathon Boy, and the 2005 Walkers Crisps television advertisements.
  • The song was used in commercials for 2K Sports' video game, The Bigs.
  • In a recent AT&T Wireless commercial, "The Ace of Spades" is sung by a guy in bar who has no signal for his cellphone - the premise is that his friend has tried to call him over 30 times because he has managed to get Motörhead tickets for the show later that night.


  • Between 8pm and 2am on November 9, 2005 at The Boat nightclub in Toronto, the song was played 128 times consecutively.[10]
  • After a 15 year career with the network, DJ Simon Mayo played the song to end his final show on BBC Radio 1 in 2001. The comedian, Noel Fielding, described the song as the sound of his childhood, as his parents would play it constantly.
  • In the play "The Lieutenant of Inishmore", the character Davey sings the song to drown out his sister Mairead's Irish rebellion song.
  • In the Achewood strip for February 4, 2009, Lyle Gabriel parodies the song with the phrase, "ACE OF GRADES!".[11]

See also


  1. ^ Burridge, Alan (April 1991). "Motörhead". Record Collector (140): 18–19. 
  2. ^ Burridge, Alan; Mick Stevenson (July 1993). "Motörhead". Record Collector (167): 72. 
  3. ^ Kilmister, Lemmy & Garza, Janiss White Line Fever Published: 2002, Simon & Schuster (Trade Division) ISBN 0-684-85868-1
  4. ^ a b c Burridge, Alan Illustrated Collector's Guide to Motörhead Published: 1995, Collector's Guide Publishing ISBN 0-9695736-2-6
  5. ^ Konow, David (2002). Bang Your Head. Three Rivers Press, c2002. p. 226 has "Motorhead's signature song, Ace of Spades". ISBN 0-609-80732-3. 
  6. ^ Christe, Ian (2004). Sound of the Beast. Allison & Busby. ISBN 0749083514. 
  7. ^ " music". Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  8. ^ Shaw, Harry (2002). Lemmy... In his own words. Omnibus Press (c) 2002. p. 39. ISBN 0-7119-9109-X. 
  9. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 11/11/1986 The Shop Assistants
  10. ^ "Motörhead madness-athon". article. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 
  11. ^ "Professor Gabriel". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 

External links

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