The Saga of Hawkwind by Carol Clerk (2004) published by Omnibus Press

Photograph of Dave Anderson by Mark Flowers

In August 1969, Hawkwind played their first-ever gig, at a hall in Notting Hill. They'd gatecrashed someone else's show, and their set amounted to a fifteen-minute jam. It hardly sounds like the most electrifying debut, but the presence of John Peel, an instant convert, and Douglas Smith, their soon-to-be manager, made for an auspicious start to a career that still shows no signs of battle fatigue.

And there have been plenty of battles. For even as Hawkwind were pioneering space-rock, scaling the heights with such revered albums as In Search Of Space and Space Ritual Alive, and developing their vision across the decades, they were also courting trouble, all the time.

Famously anti-establishment, they fell foul of the police, the Bomb Squad, the immigration authorities and the taxman. They enraged a succession of managers, promoters and agents. They plunged marriages and friendships into chaos as they travelled the world and the galaxy. They argued bitterly and unforgivingly among themselves.

Champions of the free festival ethic, they also saw an outdoor audience take up arms against them on the day the dream died forever.

Past and present members of Hawkwind have talked freely to Carol Clerk about all of this, about the drug culture that surrounded them with sometimes disastrous consequences and about the mental torment afflicting poet-in-residence Bob Calvert and designer Barney Bubbles, who killed himself.

They have, variously, pointed the finger, swung the punch, sought revenge, found God and gone to court.

But for all of their human dramas, they are still, determinedly, here.  And lest we forget, they have given us a naked drummer, a topless dancer, a stripping sax player, Lemmy, an occasionally peerless blend of music,
poetry, theatre, costume and lights, and one of the biggest, most varied back-catalogues in British rock history.

All that and Silver Machine.

This is the no-holds-barred story of Hawkwind, the legendary band that came out of London's sixties counterculture.  From the early Seventies onwards Hawkwind embraced an honourable tradition of free gigs, benefits and protests.  They embraced artistic contributions from writers, poets and dancers.  In fact they embraced almost everything except themselves.  This is the fascinating chronicle of their troubled 35-year odyssey through the changing fashions of rock while enduring endless fallings-out and innumerable personnel changes.

Motorhead's Lemmy and legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker were just two of the many casualties as Hawkwind went head-to-head with the forces of the establishment...and one another.

Through the decades Hawkwind went on to explore a unique blend of psychedelia and electronica, keeping abreast of each new musical wave while attracting a loyal body of fans who still turn out to see the band with the epic history of sex, drugs, madness, writs, rage and revenge.

'The Saga Of Hawkwind is a classic rock'n'roll story, brilliantly told.