Hawkwind


Hawkwind are an English rock band with a history of more than 30 years and one of the earliest space rock groups. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes. Formed in November 1969 by saxophone and flute player Nik Turner, guitarist Mick Slattery and singer-songwriter and guitarist Dave Brock, Hawkwind have gone through many incarnations and styles of music. Their sound has continued to metamorphose and evolve: an almost jazz feel (Hawkwind, 1970), the "experimental" and acoustic sounds of early releases (In Search of Space, 1971), changing to the hard sound of their days (mid 70's), and a modern electronic feel on the latest albums (Electric Tepee, 1992). Their creativity seems to be in the use of the synths to add to the intense moods of their songs. Hawkwind practically created the genre of music that is called  psychedelic space rock. Dozens of musicians have worked with the group; 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 psychedelic band Famous Cure, and a meeting with 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  Davies "Dik Mik", old acquaintances of Brock, offered help with transport and gear, but were soon pulled into the band. 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 the event organiser, Douglas Smith, to keep an eye on them. Smith signed them up and got them a deal with Liberty Records on the back of a deal he was setting up for the band Cochise. The band settled on the name Hawkwind after briefly being billed as Hawkwind Zoo. An Abbey Road session took place recording demos of "Hurry on Sundown" and others (included on the remasters version of Hawkwind), after which guitarist 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 Brock, then a busker.



1970–1975: United Artists era

Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor was brought in to produce the 1970 debut album Hawkwind. Although it was not 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". Bassist Harrison left the band to be replaced briefly by Thomas Crimble who played on a few BBC sessions, leaving to help organise the Glastonbury Free Festival 1971 and standing in during the band's performance there. Lloyd Langton also quit.

Mirror of illusion

Kiss of the velvet whip

Their follow up album, 1971's In Search of Space, brought greater commercial success, reaching number 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. Michael Davies had left the band, replaced 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 Düül II, had also joined and played on the album but departed before its release because of personal tensions with some other members of the band. Anderson and Lloyd Langton then formed the short-lived band Amon Din. Meanwhile, drummer Ollis quit, unhappy with the commercial direction the band were heading in.

Master of the universe

Seven by seven

The addition of bassist Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister and drummer Simon King propelled the band to greater heights. One of the early gigs this band played was a benefit for the Greasy Truckers at The Roundhouse on 13 February 1972. A live album of the concert Greasy Truckers Party was released, and after re-recording the vocal, a single "Silver Machine" was also released, reaching number 3 in the UK charts. This generated sufficient funds for the subsequent album Doremi Fasol Latido (1972); a great album with a hard space rock feel. The Space Ritual is a 1973 live double album recorded during the tour to promote their Doremi Fasol Latido album, containing some new tracks. The show featured dancers Stacia and Miss Renee, mime artist Tony Carrera and a light show by Liquid Len. The Space Ritual it's an essential live album combining space rock music and poetry. 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, despite the single having already climbed to number 39 in the UK chart.

Silver machine

Space is deep

Orgone accumulator

Down through the night

Michael Davies departed during 1973 and vocalist Robert Calvert ended his association with the band to concentrate on solo projects. Del 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. This great album features heavy psychedelic music with lots of effects. Dettmar left after a European tour and emigrated to Canada, whilst Alan Powell deputised for Simon King on that European tour, who remained giving the band two drummers.

Psychedelic warlords

At the beginning of 1975, the band recorded the classic album Warrior on the Edge of Time in collaboration with writer Michael Moorcock, loosely based on his Eternal Champion figure. 

Assault and battery

Spiral galaxy 28948

However, during a North America tour in May, the band had to cancel some shows because of Lemmy. 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.

Motorhead


1976–1978: Charisma era

Robert Calvert made a guest appearance with the 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 Tony Stratton Smith's Charisma Records and, on Stratton Smith's suggestion, 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, flutist-saxophonist Turner was sacked for his erratic live playing and drummer Powell was deemed surplus to requirements. After a tour to promote the single and during rehearsals for the next album, bassist Paul 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 bass player for Magic Muscle had supported Hawkwind on the Space Ritual tour, came in for the 1977 album Quark, Strangeness and Charm which is a return to a more traditional Hawkwind sound. The band continued to enjoy moderate commercial success, but Calvert's mental illness often caused problems, such as abandon a European tour in France. These kind of problems 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.

Days of the underground

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. The recording took place on a farm in Devon using a mobile studio, resulting in the album 25 Years On (1978). 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 full-time, but nevertheless contributed violin to these sessions. At the end of the band's UK tour, Calvert, wanting drummer Simon King back in the band, fired Griffin, then promptly resigned himself, choosing to pursue a career in literature. Keyboardist 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, bassist Bainbridge and drummer King, joined by guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton (who had played on the debut album) and keyboardist Tim Blake (formerly of Gong), embarking on 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 (1980), the last truly great Hawkwind studio album. However, during the recording of Levitation, King quit and drummer Ginger Baker (formerly of Cream) 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.

Levitation

Space chase

In 1981 drummer Baker and keyboardist Hale left after their insistence that bassist Bainbridge should be sacked was ignored, 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 (1981), the electronic Church of Hawkwind (1982) and Choose Your Masques (1982). The band headlined the 1981 Glastonbury Festival and made an appearance at the 1982 Donington Monsters of Rock Festival, as well as continuing to play the summer solstice at Stonehenge Free Festival.

Angels of death

Damage of life

Arrival in utopia

In the early 1980s, 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 briefly joined while he was also playing for The Cure and Robert Heaton also briefly filled the spot prior to the rise of New Model Army. Lloyd Langton Group drummer John Clark did some recording sessions and Rik Martinez joined the band for the start of the Earth Ritual tour but failed to end it, being replaced by Clive Deamer. Flutist-saxophonist Nik Turner had returned as a guest for the 1982 Choose Your Masques tour and was invited back permanently. Further tours ensued with Phil 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 EP, but there was a guest spot for Lemmy. The Earth Ritual tour was filmed for Hawkwind's first video release ever, 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 released as Stonehenge 84. Subsequent personal and professional tensions between Brock and Turner led to the latter's expulsion at the beginning of 1985. Drummer Clive Deamer was eventually replaced in 1985 by Danny Thompson Jr, a friend of bassist Alan Davey, and remained almost to the end of the decade. Hawkwind's association with writer Moorcock climaxed in their most ambitious project, the concept album The Chronicle of the Black Sword (1985), 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 the album Live Chronicles and the 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. 

The sea king

In 1988 the band recorded the album The Xenon Codex with Guy Bidmead, but soon after, both guitarist Lloyd Langton and drummer Danny Thompson departed. Drummer Richard Chadwick, who joined in the summer of '88, 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. To fill in the gap of lead sound, lost when Lloyd Langton left, violinist Simon House was re-instated into the lineup in 1989 (having previously been a member from 1974 until 1978) and Hawkwind embarked on their first US visit in 11 years (since the 1978 tour), in which House did not partake. The successfully received full American tour was the first of several over the coming years, in an effort of the band to reintroduce themselves to the American market.

Sword of the east


1990s

Vocalist Bridget Wishart, an associate of drummer Richard Chadwick on the festival circuit, also joined to become the band's one and only frontwoman. This band produced two albums, 1990's Space Bandits and 1991's live Palace Springs and also filmed a 1-hour appearance for the Bedrock TV series. 1990 saw Hawkwind tour the USA again, the second installment in a series of American visits made at around this time in an effort to re-establish Hawkwind in America. The original business plan was to hold three consecutive US tours annually, from 1989-1991, with the first losing money, the second breaking even and the third turning a profit, ultimately bringing Hawkwind back into recognition across the Atlantic. Progress, however, was stunted, due to ex-member Nik Turner touring the United States with his own band at the time, in which the shows were often marketed as Hawkwind. In 1991 keyboardist Bainbridge, violinist House and vocalist 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 (1993) 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 (1995) album was released under the alias Psychedelic Warriors to distance itself entirely from the rock expectancy of Hawkwind.

Sadness runs deep

A general criticism of techno music at that time was its facelessness and lack of personality, which plagued also the band. Ron Tree had met the band on the festival circuit and offered his services as a frontman, and the band duly employed him for the good album Alien 4 (1995) and its accompanying tour which resulted in the album Love in Space and the video Love in Space.

Journey

In 1996, unhappy with the musical direction of the band, bassist Davey left, forming his own Middle-Eastern flavoured hard-rock group Bedouin and a Motörhead tribute act named Ace of Spades. His bass playing role was reluctantly picked up by singer Ron Tree and the band were joined full-time 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 (1997) and In Your Area (1999). Vocalist Captain Rizz also joined the band for guest spots during live shows.

Alchemy


2000s

In 2000 the studio album Spacebrock was released. 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 more than 3 hours set which was filmed and recorded. 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 for the use of former members as guests on live shows and studio recordings. The 2000 Christmas Astoria show was recorded with contributions from House, Blake, Rizz, Moorcock, flute, saxophone and trumpet player Jez Huggett and synth player Keith Kniveton and released as the live Yule Ritual the following year. In 2001, Davey agreed to rejoin the band permanently, but only after the departure of Tree and Richards. 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 his band now performs 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. Arthur 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 Take Me to Your Future.

Digital nation

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. June 2007 saw the official departure of Alan Davey, who left to perform and record with two new bands: Gunslinger and Thunor. He was replaced by "Mr. Dibs", a long-standing member of the road crew (Alan Davey's personal roadie) and bassist for the bands Spacehead and Krel (that had supported Hawkwind during 1992). The band performed at their annual Hawkfest festival, 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. On 8 September 2008 keyboard player Jason Stuart died due to a brain haemorrhage. In October 2008, guitarist Niall Hone (former Tribe of Cro) joined Hawkwind for their Winter 2008 tour, along with returning synth/theremin player Tim Blake. In this period, Niall also played bass guitar alongside Mr. Dibs in the live set, on tracks such as Angels of Death. Niall's bass sound (Music Man StingRay bass with a Marshall guitar stack) and style is very different to Mr. Dibs, as he uses heavy distortion and psychedelic effects to complement the rounder sound of Mr. Dibs, often playing lead bass. In 2009, the band began occasionally featuring Jon Sevink from The Levellers as guest violinist at some shows. Later that year, Hawkwind embarked on a winter tour to celebrate the bands 40th anniversary including two sold out gigs on 28 and 29 August to mark the date of the first ever Hawkwind gig and in 2010 held Hawkfest on the Isle Of Wight on the site of the original Isle Of Wight Festival, on the 40th anniversary of their first ever festival appearance.


2010s

On 21 June 2010, Hawkwind released a studio album entitled Blood of the Earth. In December 2010, they embarked on a UK tour to support the album. Although Niall Hone was initially employed as a guitarist, he has been moved to the bass guitar (he had played bass from an early age in many bands such as Mandragora and The Captain Sensible Band and jammed with Dave Brock in the late 1980's in Alan Davey's absence) and since May 2011, he has been playing bass, giving the band a more aggressive and tighter sound. Mr. Dibs has moved to a lead singer role, while also playing occasional psychedelic cello through foot pedals on the 2012 dates. 2011 saw the band tour Australia for a second time and play a series of festivals in Europe, including Sweden Rock Festival. A small UK tour was held in December. April 2012 saw the release of a new album, Onward, on the Plastichead arm, Eastworld Records. Keyboardist Dead Fred guested with Hawkwind for the 2012 tour in support of Onward. In November 2012, a power trio subset (Brock, Chadwick and Hone) of the current touring line-up released an album under the name Hawkwind Light Orchestra, titled Stellar Variations, on the Esoteric sub-label of Cherry Red Records.

Prometheus

The hills have ears



DISCOGRAPHY
Studio albums

Hawkwind (1970)
In Search of Space (1971)
Doremi Fasol Latido (1972)
Hall of the Mountain Grill (1974)
Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (1976)
Quark, Strangeness and Charm (1977)
25 Years On (Released as Hawklords, 1978)
PXR5 (1979)
Levitation (1980)
Sonic Attack (1981)
Church of Hawkwind (1982)
Choose Your Masques (1982)
The Chronicle of the Black Sword (1985)
The Xenon Codex (1988)
Space Bandits (1990)
Electric Tepee (1992)
It Is the Business of the Future to Be Dangerous (1993)
White Zone (Released as Psychedelic Warriors, 1995)
Alien 4 (1995)
Distant Horizons (1997)
In Your Area (1999)
Spacebrock (2000)
Take Me to Your Leader (2005)
Take Me to Your Future (2006)
Blood of the Earth (2010)
Onward (2012)
Stellar Variations (Released as Hawkwind Light Orchestra, 2012)