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Hawkwind

Hawkwind are a British rock band, one of the earliest space rock groups. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes. Notable fantasy and science fiction writer Michael Moorcock was an occasional collaborator.

History

1969: Formation

Dave Brock and Mick Slattery had been in the London based blues turned psychedelic band Famous Cure, and a meeting with jazz-dance band bassist John Harrison revealed a mutual interest in electronic music that kicked off this new venture. Seventeen year old drummer Terry Ollis replied to an advert in one of the music weeklies, while Nik Turner and Michael 'Dik Mik' Davies, old acquaintances of Brock, offered help with transport and gear, but were soon pulled into the band when their respective talents for messing around on saxophones and electronics were revealed.

Gatecrashing a local talent night at the All Saints Hall, Notting Hill, they were so untogether as to not even have a name, plumping for Group X at the last minute, nor any songs, choosing to play an extended 20-minute jam on The Byrds Eight Miles High. BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel was in the audience and was impressed enough to tell event organiser Douglas Smith to keep an eye on them. He duly did, signed them up and got them a deal with Liberty Records on the back of a deal he was setting up for Cochise .

The band settled on the name Hawkwind after briefly being billed as Hawkwind Zoo, Hawkwind being the nickname of Turner derived from his unappealing habit of clearing his throat (hawking) and excessive flatulence (wind). An Abbey Road session took place recording demos of "Hurry On Sundown" and others (included on the remasters version of Hawkwind), after which Slattery left to be replaced by Huw Lloyd-Langton, who had known Brock from his days working in a music shop selling guitar strings to the busking Brock.

1970-75: United Artists era

Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor was brought in to produce the 1970 debut album Hawkwind. Although it wasn't a commercial success, it did bring them to the attention of the UK underground scene finding them playing free concerts, benefit gigs and festivals. Playing free outside the Bath Festival, they encountered another Ladbroke Grove based band, the Pink Fairies, who shared similar interests in music and recreational activities, a friendship developed which led to the two bands becoming running partners and performing as Pinkwind. Their use of drugs, however, led to the departure of Harrison who didn't imbibe, followed by Lloyd-Langton after a bad LSD trip at the Isle of Wight Festival led to his having a nervous breakdown.

1971's follow up album In Search of Space brought greater commercial success, reaching #18 on the UK album charts, and also saw the band's image and philosophy take shape, courtesy of graphic artist Barney Bubbles and underground press writer Robert Calvert, as depicted in the accompanying Hawklog booklet which would further be developed into the Space Ritual stage show. Science fiction author Michael Moorcock and dancer Stacia also started contributing to the band. Dik Mik had left the band, his place being taken by sound engineer Del Dettmar, but chose to return for this album giving the band two electronics players. Bass player Dave Anderson, who had been in the German band Amon Duul II had also joined but departed before its release due to personal tensions with some other members of the band. Meanwhile, unhappy with the commercial direction the band were heading in, Ollis also chose to leave.

The addition of bassist Lemmy and drummer Simon King propelled the band to greater heights. One of the first gigs this band played was a benefit for the Greasy Truckers at The Roundhouse on 13 February 1972 and a resultant single "Silver Machine" was released, reaching #3 in the UK charts. This generated sufficient funds for the subsequent album Doremi Fasol Latido Space Ritual tour. The show featured dancers Stacia and Miss Renee, mime artist Tony Crerar and a light show by Liquid Len and is immortalised on the elaborate package Space Ritual. At the height of their success in 1973, the band released the single "Urban Guerrilla" which coincided with an IRA bombing campaign in London, so the BBC refused to play it and the band's management reluctantly decided to withdraw it fearing accusations of opportunism.

Dik Mik departed during 1973 and Calvert ended his association with the band to concentrate on solo projects. Dettmar also indicated that he was to leave the band, so Simon House was recruited as keyboardist and violinist playing live shows, a North America tour and recording the 1974 album Hall of the Mountain Grill. Dettmar left after a European tour, emigrating to Canada, whilst Alan Powell deputised for an incapacitated King on that European tour, but remained giving the band two drummers.

At the beginning of 1975, the band recorded the album Warrior on the Edge of Time in collaboration with Michael Moorcock loosely based on his Eternal Champion figure. However, during a North America tour in May, Lemmy was caught in possession of amphetamine crossing the border from the USA into Canada. The border police mistook the powder for cocaine and he was jailed, forcing the band to cancel some shows. Fed up with his erratic behaviour, the band fired the bass player replacing him with their long standing friend and former Pink Fairies guitarist Paul Rudolph. Lemmy then teamed up with another Pink Fairies guitarist, Larry Wallis, to form Motörhead, named after the last song he had written for Hawkwind.

1976-78: Charisma era

Robert Calvert made a guest appearance with band for their headline set at the Reading Festival in August 1975, after which he chose to rejoin the band as a full-time vocalist and front man. Stacia, on the other hand, chose to relinquish her dancing duties and settle down to family life. The band changed record company to Charisma Records and band management from Douglas Smith to Tony Howard.

1976's Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music is the first album of this era and highlights both Calvert's well crafted lyrics written with stage performance in mind and a greater proficiency and scope in the music. But on the eve of recording the follow-up Back on the Streets single, Turner was sacked for his erratic live playing and Powell was deemed surplus to requirements. After a tour to promote the single and during rehearsals for the next album, Rudolph was also sacked for allegedly trying to steer the band into a musical direction at odds with Calvert and Brock's vision.

Adrian "Ade" Shaw, who as the bass player for Magic Muscle had supported Hawkwind on the Space Ritual tour, came in for the 1977 album Quark, Strangeness and Charm. The band continued to enjoy moderate commercial success, but Calvert's mental illness often caused problems. A manic phase saw the band abandon a European tour in France, while a depression phase during a 1978 North American tour convinced Brock to disband the group. In between these two tours, the band had recorded the album PXR5 in January 1978, but its release was delayed until 1979.

On 23 December 1977 in Barnstaple, Brock and Calvert had performed a one-off gig with Devon band Ark as the Sonic Assassins, and looking for a new project in 1978, bassist Harvey Bainbridge and drummer Martin Griffin were recruited from this event. Steve Swindells was recruited as keyboard player. The band was named Hawklords, probably for legal reasons having recently split with their management, and recording took place on a farm in Devon using a mobile studio resulting in the album 25 Years On. King had originally been the drummer for the project but quit during recording sessions to return to London, while House, who had temporarily left the band to join a David Bowie tour, elected to remain with Bowie fulltime, but nevertheless did contribute violin to these sessions. At the end of the album's UK tour, Calvert, wanting King back in the band, fired Griffin, then promptly resigned himself, choosing to pursue a career in literature. Swindells left to record a solo album after an offer had been made to him by the record company ATCO.

1980s

In late 1979, Hawkwind reformed with Brock, Bainbridge and King being joined by Huw Lloyd-Langton (who had played on the debut album) and Tim Blake (formerly of Gong), embarking upon a UK tour despite not having a record deal or any product to promote. Some shows were recorded and a deal was made with Bronze Records resulting in the Live Seventy Nine album, quickly followed by the studio album Levitation. However, during the recording of Levitation King quit and Ginger Baker was drafted in for the sessions, but he chose to stay with the band for the tour, during which Tim Blake left to be replaced by Keith Hale.

In 1981 Baker and Hale left after their insistence that Bainbridge should be sacked was declined, and Brock and Bainbridge elected to handle synthesizers and sequencers themselves with drummer Griffin from the Hawklords rejoining. Three albums, which again saw Michael Moorcock contributing lyrics and vocals, were recorded for RCA/Active: Sonic Attack, the electronic Church of Hawkwind and Choose Your Masques. This band headlined the 1981 Glastonbury Festival and made an appearance at the 1982 Donnington Monsters of Rock Festival, as well as continuing to play the summer solstice at Stonehenge Free Festival.

Nik Turner had returned as a guest for the 1982 Choose Your Masques tour and was invited back permanently. Further tours ensued with Dead Fred Reeves augmenting the line-up on keyboards and violin, but neither Turner nor Reeves would appear on the only recording of 1983/84, The Earth Ritual Preview, but there was a guest spot for Lemmy. The Earth Ritual tour was filmed for Hawkwind's first ever video release, Night of the Hawk. Alan Davey was a young fan of the band who had sent a tape of his playing to Brock, and Brock chose to oust Reeves moving Bainbridge from bass to keyboards in order to accommodate Davey. This experimental line-up played at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984, which was filmed and release as Stonehenge 84. Subsequent personal and professional tensions between Brock and Turner led to the latter's expulsion at the beginning of 1985.

Brock had started using drum machines for his home demos and became increasingly frustrated at the inability of drummers to keep perfect time, leading to a succession of drummers coming and going. First, Griffin was ousted and the band tried Simon King again, but unhappy with his playing at that time, he was rejected. Andy Anderson filled in while he was also playing for The Cure, as did Robert Heaton prior to the rise of New Model Army. Lloyd Langton Group drummer John Clark did some recording sessions, Rik Martinez started the Earth Ritual tour but failed to end it, being replaced by Clive Deamer, who was deemed "too professional for the band. Eventually in 1985 Danny Thompson Jr, a friend of bassist Alan Davey, was drafted in and remained almost to the end of the decade.

Hawkwind's association with Moorcock climaxed in their most ambitious project, The Chronicle of the Black Sword, based loosely around the Elric series of books and theatrically staged with Tony Crerar as the central character. Moorcock contributed lyrics, but only performed some spoken pieces on some live dates. The tour was recorded and issued as an album Live Chronicles and video The Chronicle of the Black Sword. A headline appearance at the 1986 Reading Festival was followed by a UK tour to promote the Live Chronicles album which was filmed and released as Chaos. In 1988 the band recorded the album The Xenon Codex with Guy Bidmead, but all was not well in the band and soon after, both Lloyd-Langton and Thompson departed.

1990s

Drummer Richard Chadwick had been playing in small alternative free festival bands, most notably Bath's Smart Pils, for a decade and had frequently crossed paths with Hawkwind and Brock. He was initially invited simply to play with the band, but eventually replaced stand in drummer Mick Kirton to become the band's drummer to the present day. Bridget Wishart, an associate of Chadwick's from the festival circuit, also joined to become the band's one and only frontwoman, and this new lineup was rounded off by the return of Simon House playing lead violin. This band produced two albums, 1990s Space Bandits and 1991's Palace Springs and also filmed a 1-hour appearance for the Bedrock TV series.

In 1991 Bainbridge,House and Wishart departed and The band continued as a three piece relying heavily on synthesizers and sequencers to create a wall-of-sound. The 1992 album Electric Tepee combined hard rock and light ambient pieces, while It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous is almost devoid of the rock leanings. The Business Trip is a record of the previous album's tour, but rockier as would be expected from a live outing. The White Zone album was released under the alias Psychedelic Warriors to distance itself entirely from the rock expectancy of Hawkwind.

A general criticism of techno music at that time was its facelessness and lack of personality, which the band were coming to feel also plagued them. Ron Tree had known the band on the festival circuit and offered his services as a frontman, and the band duly employed him for the album Alien 4 and its accompanying tour which resulted in the album Love in Space and video Love in Space. Bassist Alan Davey departed forming his own Middle-Eastern flavoured hard-rock group Bedouin and a Motörhead tribute act named Ace of Spades. His bass-playing role was picked up by singer Ron Tree and the band were joined by lead guitarist Jerry Richards (another stalwart of the festival scene, playing for Tubilah Dog who had merged with Brock's Agents of Chaos during 1988) for the albums Distant Horizons and In Your Area. Rasta chanter Captain Rizz also joined the band for guest spots during live shows.

2000s

The concept of a Hawkestra, a reunion event featuring appearances from all past and present members, had originally been intended to coincide with the band's 30th anniversary and the release of the career spanning Epocheclipse – 30 Year Anthology set, but logistical problems delayed it until 21 October 2000. It took place at the Brixton Academy with about 20 members taking part in a 3+ hour set which was filmed and recorded. Guests included Samantha Fox who sang Silver Machine. However, arguments and disputes over financial recompense and musical input resulted in the prospect of the event being restaged unlikely, and any album or DVD release being indefinitely shelved.

The Hawkestra had set a template for Brock to assemble a core band of Tree, Brock, Richards, Davey, Chadwick and to use former members as guests on live shows and studio recordings. The 2000 Christmas Astoria show was recorded with contributions from House, Blake, Rizz, Moorcock, Jez Huggett and Keith Kniveton and released as Yule Ritual the following year.in 2001 Davey agreed to rejoin the band permanently. Meanwhile, having rekindled relationships with old friends at the Hawkestra, Turner organised further Hawkestra gigs resulting in the formation of xhawkwind.com, a band consisting mainly of ex-Hawkwind members and playing old Hawkwind songs. An appearance at Guilfest in 2002 led to confusion as to whether this actually was Hawkwind, sufficiently irking Brock into taking legal action to prohibit Turner from trading under the name Hawkwind. Turner lost the case and the band now perform as Space Ritual.

An appearance at the Canterbury Sound Festival in August 2001, resulting in another live album Canterbury Fayre 2001, saw guest appearances from Lloyd-Langton, House, Kniveton with Arthur Brown on "Silver Machine". The band organised the first of their own weekend festivals, named Hawkfest, in Devon in the summer of 2002. Brown joined the band in 2002 for a Winter tour which featured some Kingdom Come songs and saw appearances from Blake and Lloyd-Langton, the Newcastle show being released on DVD as Out of the Shadows and the London show on CD as Spaced Out in London.

In 2005 the long anticipated new album Take Me to Your Leader was released. Recorded by the core band of Brock/Davey/Chadwick, contributors included new keyboardist Jason Stuart, Arthur Brown, tabloid writer and TV personality Matthew Wright, 1970s New Wave singer Lene Lovich, Simon House and Jez Huggett. This was followed in 2006 by the CD/DVD disc Take Me to Your Future.

The band were the subject of an hour-long television documentary entitled Hawkwind: Do Not Panic that aired on BBC Four as part of the Originals series. It was broadcast on 30 March 2007 and repeated on 10 August 2007. Although Brock participated in its making he did not appear in the programme, it is alleged that he requested all footage of himself be removed after he was denied any artistic control over the documentary.. In one of the documentary's opening narratives regarding Brock, it is stated that he declined to be interviewed for the programme due to Nik Turner's involvement, indicating that the two men have still not been reconciled over the xhawkwind.com incident.

June 2007 saw the departure of Alan Davey, replaced by Mr Dibs. Dibs was a long standing member of the road crew and had been bassist for the bands Spacehead and Krel who had supported Hawkwind during 1992. The band performed at their annual Hawkfest festival and headlined the US festival NEARfest and played gigs in PA and NY. At the end of 2007, Tim Blake once again joined the band filling the lead role playing keyboards and theremin. The band played 5 Christmas dates, the London show being released as an audio CD and video DVD under the title Knights of Space.

In January 2008 the band reversed its anti-taping policy, long a sore-point with many fans, announcing that it would allow audio recording and non-commercial distribution of such recordings, provided there was no competing official release. At the end of 2008, Atomhenge Records (a subsidiary of Cherry Red Records) commenced the re-issuing of Hawkwind's back catalogue from the years 1976 through to 1997 with the release of two triple CD anthologies Spirit of the Age (anthology 1976-84) and The Dream Goes On (anthology 1985-97).

On 8 September 2008 keyboard player Jason Stuart died due to a brain haemorrhage.

Discography

Studio Albums
1970 Hawkwind
1971 In Search of Space
1972 Doremi Fasol Latido
1974 Hall of the Mountain Grill
1975 Warrior on the Edge of Time
1976 Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music
1977 Quark, Strangeness and Charm
1978 25 Years On — Hawklords
1979 PXR5
1980 Levitation
1981 Sonic Attack
1982 Church of Hawkwind
1982 Choose Your Masques
1985 The Chronicle of the Black Sword
1988 The Xenon Codex
1990 Space Bandits
1992 Electric Tepee
1993 It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous
1995 White Zone — Psychedelic Warriors
1995 Alien 4
1997 Distant Horizons
1999 In Your Area — live and studio
2000 Spacebrock — Dave Brock solo
2005 Take Me to Your Leader
2006 Take Me to Your Future Live Albums
1973 Space Ritual
1980 Live Seventy Nine
1986 Live Chronicles
1991 Palace Springs
1994 The Business Trip
1996 Love in Space
1999 Hawkwind 1997
2001 Yule Ritual
2002 Canterbury Fayre 2001
2004 Spaced Out in London
2008 Knights of Space Archive Albums
1980 The Weird Tapes Volumes 1-8 (1966-1983)
1983 The Text of Festival (1970-1971)
1983 Zones (1980 and 1982)
1984 This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic (1980 and 1984)
1984 Bring Me the Head of Yuri Gagarin (1973)
1984 Space Ritual Volume 2 (1972)
1985 Hawkwind Anthology (1967-1982)
1987 Out & Intake (1982 and 1986)
1991 BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert (1972)
1992 The Friday Rock Show Sessions (1985)
1992 Hawklords Live (1978)
1992 California Brainstorm (1990)
1995 Undisclosed Files Addendum (1984 and 1988)
1997 The 1999 Party (1974)
1999 Glastonbury 90 (1990)
1999 Choose Your Masques: Collectors Series Volume 2 (1982)
1999 Complete '79: Collectors Series Volume 1 (1979)
2000 Atomhenge 76 (1976)
2002 Live 1990 (1990)

Videography

  • 1984 – Night of the Hawks – 60min concert
  • 1984 – Stonehenge (Various Artists video) – 60min concert with The Enid and Roy Harper
  • 1984 – Stonehenge - 60min concert
  • 1985 – The Chronicle of the Black Sword – 60min concert
  • 1986 – Bristol Custom Bike Show – 15min concert with Voodoo Child
  • 1986 – Chaos - 60min concert
  • 1989 – Treworgey Tree Fayre – 90min concert
  • 1990 – Nottingham – 60min TV concert
  • 1990 – Bournemouth Academy – 90min concert
  • 1992 – Brixton Academy – 90min concert
  • 1995 – Love in Space – 90min concert
  • 2002 – Out of the Shadows – 90min concert
  • 2008 – Knights of Space – 90min concert

Tributes and remixes

There have been numerous bands over the years and across the globe who have set themselves up as a Hawkwind tribute/cover act. Perhaps the most active at the time of writing is the Assassins Of Silence who operate mainly in and around Oxfordshire, often pulling in Huw Lloyd Langton for special appearances.

Members

Dozens of musicians have passed through Hawkwind over the years, but Dave Brock has been at the heart of the band since they formed. Other members have included Lemmy (who went on to form Motörhead), Nik Turner, Harvey Bainbridge, Del Dettmar, Dik Mik, Huw Lloyd Langton, Robert Calvert, Paul Rudolph (former Pink Fairies/The Deviants member) and Twink (another Pink Fairies member) and more recently, Ron Tree as bassist and frontman. Cross-pollination with members of the Pink Fairies led to albums released under the names Pinkwind and the Hawk Fairies. The 1990 album Space Bandits included a female vocalist Bridget Wishart. Other members, who may have been better known for their careers outside of Hawkwind, include Ginger Baker and Arthur Brown. Of all the other band members, bass player Alan Davey has been with the band the longest, joining in 1984 and leaving in 2007 (although he did leave for a few years within this period).

Hawkwind have been known for giving credit to non-musician members of their crew, such as Liquid Len, a lighting engineer, and Stacia, a dancer. Their distinctive graphic design was created by Barney Bubbles, who later created the graphic identity for Stiff Records, where Larry Wallis (Pink Fairies and Motörhead with Lemmy) was an in-house producer.

Year Vocals Sax, Flute Lead: Guitar, Violin (v) or Keys (k) Guitar, Synths Bass Keyboards, Synths Drums
1969 Nik Turner Mick Slattery Dave Brock John Harrison Dik Mik Terry Ollis
1970 Huw Lloyd-Langton John Harrison, Thomas Crimble
1971 Dave Anderson Dik Mik & Del Dettmar
1972 Robert Calvert Lemmy Simon King
1973
1974 Del Dettmar & Simon House
1975 (Michael Moorcock) Simon House Simon King & Alan Powell
1976 Robert Calvert Paul Rudolph
1977 Adrian Shaw Simon King
1978 Harvey Bainbridge Simon House, Steve Swindells Simon King & Martin Griffin
1979 Huw Lloyd-Langton Tim Blake Simon King
1980 Tim Blake, Keith Hale Ginger Baker
1981 (Michael Moorcock) Martin Griffin
1982 Nik Turner
1983 Dead Fred Andy Anderson
1984 Harvey Bainbridge, Alan Davey Dead Fred, Harvey Bainbridge Clive Deamer
1985 Alan Davey Harvey Bainbridge Danny Thompson Jr
1986
1987
1988
1989 Bridget Wishart Simon House (v) Richard Chadwick
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995 Ron Tree (Jerry Richards)
1996
1997 (Captain Rizz) Jerry Richards Ron Tree
1998
1999
2000 (Jez Huggett) Jerry Richards & Simon House (v) Tim Blake
2001 (Arthur Brown) Huw Lloyd-Langton Alan Davey Simon House
2002 Lloyd-Langton & Simon House (v) Tim Blake
2003
2004 Jason Stuart
2005
2006
2007 Tim Blake (k) Mr Dibs
2008
Note: Names in brackets indicate significant guest appearances, either live or on recordings.

Influence

Former Black Flag and current Rollins Band singer Henry Rollins is a fan, as is Jello Biafra. The Sex Pistols included "Silver Machine" in their reunion performances of 2002; while reviewers may have seen this as "ultra ironic" , John Lydon made it clear that this was a tribute. Another musician who has claimed Hawkwind as an influence is Joy Division/New Order bassist Peter Hook, who took his father to a Hawkwind concert as a teenager in an attempt to help him appreciate rock music in a more visceral fashion. The group were cited as an influence with the advent of electronica in the early 1990s thanks to their pioneering work with synthesizers and Brock's motorik-esque riffs.

There is a tangible connection between the sound of Lemmy's later group Motörhead and that of the influential 1971-1975 group, with songs such as "Born to Go" and "Master of the Universe" during that time period played at breakneck tempos live (characteristic of punk) while containing guitar solos more reminiscent of heavy metal and psychedelic rock. With Motörhead, Lemmy would refine this into the sound of speed metal.

Early Monster Magnet albums have a distinct Hawkwind feel, they covered Brainstorm on their 3rd album, Superjudge and The Right Stuff on "Monolithic Baby!".

Singer-songwriter Sam Roberts has credited Hawkwind as an influence on his music and covers the song "Hurry on Sundown" (originally on 1970s debut album Hawkwind) during concerts.

Psychadelic UK based Stoner Rock band Stick Shift have cited Hawkwind as a major influence on their sound - Particularly 1973's the Space Ritual.

Kula Shaker's Sound of Drums has a version of "Hurry On Sundown" ("Hari Om Sundown"). JJ Burnel (The Stranglers) regularly performs 1977's "Quark, Strangeness & Charm". Quoted in Carol Clerk's book, JJ says: "Quark...is a song I really...wish I'd written... It's punky as hell, and really clever. I like the energy in it, and the fact that it's just three chords and yet it made a bloody great racket... and the very intelligent lyrics, and they were funny and sexy as hell."

Grunge pioneers Mudhoney have expressed their appreciation for Hawkwind's music and covered the Hawkwind song Urban Guerrilla for a Peel Session in 2002.

Further reading

There are three biographies of Hawkwind.

  • Kris Tait This is Hawkwind: Do Not Panic (1984, published by the band and now only available second hand)
  • Ian Abrahams Sonic Assassins (Published by SAF publishing; ISBN 0-946719-69-1)
  • Carol Clerk's Saga of Hawkwind (Publisher: Music Sales Limited ISBN 1-84449-101-3)

References

External links

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