Hawkwind

Photograph by Mark Flowers ©

Dave Brock began his musical career playing banjo in jazz bands around 1959 to 1960 including The Gravnier Street Stompers and Ken Collier’s Jazz Band, planting the seeds for the freeform jams characteristic of Hawkwind. Brock switched to guitar and spent his time busking and filling in between the main acts at various blues, jazz and folk clubs, and began experimenting with creating interesting sounds. In 1964 he formed The Dharma Blues Band with Luke Francis to be joined by Mike King, and recorded some songs that were included on blues compilation albums. 

Brock and Pete Judd formed another duo in 1966 and were joined by John Illingworth, travelling to Holland in 1967 where they were known as The Famous Cure. Future Hawkwind members, Mick Slattery and Nik Turner joined that year and the group returned to England, playing some concerts before splitting up in early 1968. One of these gigs included The Deviants on the bill, the band that led to the formation of the Pink Fairies who were to be closely interwoven with Hawkwind during the early 1970s.  

Dave Brock returned to busking and continued doing so until 1970. Whilst busking along the Tottenham Court Road in London, Brock became friends with John Harrison and soon began discussing the formation of a band. Ex-Famous Cure member, Mick Slattery became interested and drummer, Terry Ollis met them through a Melody Maker advertisement. They rehearsed in the basement of a Putney music shop run by ex-Temperance Seven member Bob Kerr. Together with Nik Turner (from Mobile Freakout, and Tangerine Dream) and DikMik (S. McManus), Brock, Slattery and Harrison formed Group X in mid-1969.  

Following a concert at the All Saints Church Hall in Notting Hill Gate, London, they were spotted by Douglas Smith of Clearwater Productions, who signed them to his label and secured them a deal with United Artists on the Liberty label. Other Clearwater artists included future Hawkwind members Tim Blake, Thomas Crimble (in Skin Alley) and Simon House (in High Tide). 

The group adopted the name Hawkwind Zoo, later shortening it to Hawkwind. Their original demo for United Artists, “Hurry On Sundown”/ “Kiss of the Velvet Whip” (later changed to “Sweet Mistress of Pain”) was later released by Flicknife Records in 1981. Mick Slattery left and quit the music business for a gypsy lifestyle in Ireland; he was replaced by Huw Lloyd Langton. 

After several free concerts, mostly at open-air festivals, they released their first album, Hawkwind during the summer of 1970. In September, 1970, shortly after its release, Harrison left and was replaced by Thomas Crimble from Skin Alley and Del Dettmar replaced Langton partway through the recording of their next album. Langton played in several bands, most noticeably Widowmaker. 

Crimble then left in May, 1971 and later organized Glastonbury Fayre. He was replaced by Dave Anderson from Amon Düül II.  More members were added with poet and vocalist Robert Calvert, science fiction writer Michael Moorcock, and exotic dancer Stacia joining. Their second album, In Search of Space was released in October, 1971 and their growing popularity enabled it to reach number 18 in the U.K. charts.

 Lemmy (Ian Kilminster) joined on bass guitar in September, 1971replacing Anderson, and Simon King drummer from Opal Butterfly (Lemmy had been with this group three years earlier) replaced Ollis, the group now consisting of King, Brock, Lemmy, Turner, DikMik, Dettmar, Calvert, Stacia and sometimes Moorcock.

This classic “Space Ritual” lineup lasted up to August, 1975, when DikMik left, followed by Calvert in November that year. During 1972 Hawkwind headlined at the Roundhouse for the Greasy Truckers Party and at the Glastonbury Fayre event, songs from these events including “Silver Machine” appearing on the Greasy Truckers Party double album and the Glastonbury Fayre triple album. “Silver Machine” was tidied up as a studio recording, but Calvert could not take part in the recording due to mental health problems so Lemmy took over the vocals, the single reaching number 3 in the U.K. charts. 

The success of “Silver Machine” enabled Hawkwind to embark on the ambitious Space Ritual tour, which incorporated a psychedelic light show, dance and music, films and slides by artist David Hardy, and earned them enormous respect and admiration. A European tour was a huge success and they were also able to break into the U.S. market, becoming the first British group to headline on their first tour as opposed to starting out as a support act. 

During the period from 1971 to 1975, Hawkwind released two highly successful albums. Doremi Fosol Latido reached number 14 in the U.K. in 1972, and Space Ritual Alive number 9 in 1973. 

With DikMik and Calvert leaving, the latter to become a solo artist under several names such as Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, Simon House from The Third Ear Band and High Tide was added to the group on violin, keyboards and synthesizers replacing Dettmar who emigrated to Canada. Their fourth album, Hall of the Mountain Grill reached number 16 in the U.K. 

Alan Powell from Stackridge and Chicken Shack was added as second drummer. With Calvert gone, Michael Moorcock narrated poems for the band and their next album, Warrior at the Edge of Time was released reaching number 13. Stacia left the group to get married and Michael Moorcock left to form Deep Fix.  

Paul Rudolph from The Pink Fairies replaced Lemmy on bass who left to form Motorhead, the name taken from a song he wrote with Hawkwind, and Bob Calvert returned on vocals. In 1976, Hawkwind parted company with United Artists and signed for Chrysalis, but the new management and record company seemed to want to change their style rather than retain their individuality. Paul Rudolph and Adrian Shaw who joined the band, wanted to present a more “funky” image to cater to the pop scene. Although their next album Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music Emporium had a clever sleeve design mimicking pulp magazines, the music was patchy in quality although it did reach number 33.

The promotional tour accompanying the album highlighted divisions within the band and at the end of the tour, Turner was sacked, followed by Rudolph and Powell. Turner went on to form Sphynx and Inner City Blues. 

The album Quark, Strangeness and Charm in 1977 saw a return to a more traditional Hawkwind sound, and it reached number 30 in the U.K.

Live tracks for the album P.X.R. 5 were recorded during the European and two U.K. tours of 1977, although the album was not released until 1979. However, Brock was unhappy with the progress of the group and formed The Sonic Assassins in 1977 with Calvert and Harvey Bainbridge, Martin Griffin and Paul Hayles, the latter three from Ark who had supported Hawkwind on tour. Material recorded by The Sonic Assassins was later released on an E.P. called The Sonic Assassins in 1981, and the compilation albums Hawkwind Friends and Relations in 1982 and Anthology in 1998. 

Hawkwind folded during their 1978 U.S. tour during which Robert Calvert’s mental health suffered badly as a result of manic depression, and Simon House left to tour with David Bowie. House was replaced by Paul Hayles for the remainder of the tour. 

Hayles did not want to tour as widely as Hawkwind had and so did not continue with The Sonic Assassins, which was in effect the new Hawkwind. The name Sonic Assassins was not as well known as the Hawkwind title but legal problems over the name Hawkwind led to the name Hawklords being used for one album, 25 Years On in 1978. The lineup consisted of Dave Brock and Bob Calvert with Steve Swindells from Pilot and String Driven Thing on keyboards, Harvey Bainbridge on bass and Martin Griffin on drums.  

Hawklords was not as successful as the original group with 25 Years On only reaching number 48 in the U.K., and the band slipped into obscurity after their British tour. Martin Griffin was sacked upon the insistence of Calvert who subsequently left anyway, and Simon King returned from Quasar. The line-up of Hawklords now being Brock, Bainbridge, King and Swindells. 

Legal issues were resolved and the name Hawkwind could again be used. In 1979 the line-up was Brock, Bainbridge and King, with Tim Blake from Gong replacing Swindells who went solo. Later Huw-Lloyd Langton returned on guitar also from Quasar as Hawkwind headlined the first Futurama Festival in Leeds during September, 1979. Supporting the group was Nik Turner’s band Inner City Unit, and he played as guest on the piece “Brainstorm.” A lengthy and highly successful U.K. tour followed and an album, Live 1979 was released the following year reaching number 15 in the U.K. charts.

Simon King was having problems with his drumming and was replaced by Ginger Baker from Cream, Blind Faith and Airforce. The album Levitation reached number 21. However a major rift with Tim Blake led to his departure and he was replaced by Keith Hale who brought a more conventional rock keyboard sound rather than the spacey sound of Blake’s. Another huge row left Hawkwind without any management. Although a brilliant drummer, Ginger Baker did not fit in with the band’s style of touring and his fame made him a bigger name than the band itself. He had been quite manipulative and had insisted that a couple of crew members were sacked during the 1980 tour, and tried to get Brock to sack Bainbridge, hire Jack Bruce and create a supergroup blended from Hawkwind and Cream. Ginger Baker was sacked just before their European Tour, which was scrapped. Baker and Hale performed with their own band on the Italian dates. 

Hawkwind’s label, Bronze refused to release a live album or E.P. of the 1980 U.K. tour, so Brock ended their relationship. Hawkwind signed with R.C.A. Active with Martin Griffin replacing Ginger Baker on drums and Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge feeling they could handle the synthesizers themselves. An album Sonic Attack reached the U.K. number 19 in 1981, followed by Church of Hawkwind , which was number 26 in 1982. Church of Hawkwind was basically a Dave Brock solo album with various Hawkwind members supporting on various tracks and some studio experiments included.  

That year Hawkwind’s own Flicknife label released the Sonic Assassins E.P. and the first of the Hawkwind Friends and Relations compilation album. Nik Turner returned on saxophone and vocals, and the album Choose Your Masques was released in October, 1982 reaching number 29. Subsequent albums were Zones in 1983, which only reached 57 and Stonehenge: This is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic in 1984. Dave Brock, Nik Turner and Harvey Bainbridge also played as a trio at the first U.K. Electronica festival in Milton Keynes.  

Turner left during 1984 and has since released several solo recordings and been involved in a number of groups including Helius Creed, Pressurehead, Spaceseed, Nik Turner’s All Stars and Spaceritual.net, later renamed Space Ritual. Space Ritual contains members from the original 1969 line-up of Group X/ Hawkwind and has featured many ex-Hawkwind members. Bainbridge also left, with Alan Davey joining Hawkwind on bass and vocals and Clive Deamer replacing Griffin on drums. The first album of this line-up was Chronicle of the Black Sword, which did little to halt their decline in popularity reaching only 65 in 1985.  

For 1988, the line-up was Brock, Langton, Davey, Bainbridge and Danny Thompson on drums, recording The Xenon Codex , and for 1990 the line-up was Brock, Bainbridge and Davey, plus a returning Simon House and new members Richard Chadwick and Bridgett Wishart. Several albums were released by this version of the band during the 90s with little success. 

Although Dave Brock remains the only original member of Hawkwind, many of the others now performing with Nik Turner’s Space Ritual, Hawkwind continue to tour, bringing in Arthur Brown on vocals from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come famous for his hit “Fire” during the 60s, and who has also collaborated with Klaus Schulze.  Hawkwind still enjoy a loyal, cult following of die-hard hippies whilst being a source of inspiration to a new generation of techno/ trance musicians.

A book chronicling Hawkwind’s history is “The Saga of Hawkwind” by Carol Clerk and includes photography by Mark Flowers.

Discography 

Albums

Hawkwind:

 

Hawkwind (1970)

In Search of Space (1971)

Doremi Fasol Latido (1972)

Space Ritual Alive (live in London & Liverpool, 1973)

Hall of the Mountain Grill (1974)

Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)

Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music Emporium (1976)

Quark, Strangeness & Charm (1977)

Hawklords:

 

25 Years On (1978)

 

Hawkwind:

 

P.X.R. 5 (1979)

Live 1979 (1980)

Levitation (1980)

Sonic Attack (1981)

Church of Hawkwind (1982)

Choose Your Masques (1982)

Zones (1983)

Stonehenge: This is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic (1984)

Chronicle of the Black Sword (1985)

Live Chronicles (1986)

 

Out and Intake (1987)

The Xenon Codex (1988)

Space Bandits (1990)

Palace Springs (1991)

Electric Tepee (1992)

It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous (1993)

The Business Trip (live, 1994)

Alien 4 (1995)

Love in Space live October, 1995 (1996)

Distant Horizons (1997)

In Your Area (2000)

Yule Ritual (2001)

Live at Canterbury Festival (2001)

Spaced Out in London (2004)

Take Me To Your Leader (2004)

Robert Calvert Solo:

Captain Lockheed & the Starfighters (1974)

Lucky Lief & the Longships (1975)

Hype (The Songs of Tom Mahler) (1981)

Freq (1984)

Test-Tube Conceived (1986)