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.
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.
Space is deep
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Sadness runs deep