|Any Way The Wind Blows
Record Collector's May 2002 issue was a Hawkwind special and had them on the cover - as a result
this was RC's best selling issue up to that point. Scanned copies of the article therein were to be found
in a couple of places on the internet but have pretty much disappeared (one's still partially out there but
takes forever to download). So here it is, OCR'd with some of the sidebars scanned, and the whole
thing is spread across four pages, there's so much of it... The first bit, in cyan text, is an excerpt from
the May 2002 editorial rather than the Hawkwind article proper.
When Hawkwind sang 'The Spirit Of The Age' in 1977, they ably demonstrated that pop music has
always been at its best when reflecting the current trends and mores of world consciousness. In the
21st Century, mainstream pop seems largely concerned with hedonism, plus a little bit of ecology
thrown in to ease the conscience. Post-September 11th, the world has started to sing about heroes and
the right for freedom once again. In more innocent times -back in the 60s and 70s- outer space and the
opportunities offered by space exploration, rather than the horrors of terrorism, seemed to be the
ultimate challenge facing mankind. Back then, space was definitely the place, and the infinite vastness
of the cosmos became a major obsession.
When Hawkwind first appeared in 1970, they were able to visit space frequently, thanks to their love
of mind-bending substances and a shared youth that had eagerly absorbed all of these space
references. And how far out did they go? About as far out as any major act ever did. They also
enjoyed commercial success: a handful of chart albums, a Top 3 single smash with 'Silver Machine'
(nestling between hits by Donny Osmond and Terry Dactyl & the Dinosaurs) - and a lasting warm
nostalgia that we tap into in our feature, recalling their glory years.
According to space legend, some time around 1969, Hawkwind stocked up on illegal substances and
embarked on a trip to the far-out regions of human consciousness. So zonked-out were they that they
failed to notice that the 60s had ended, quite possibly believing themselves marooned on a spaceship
somewhere in the spiral arm of the milky way.
As a consequence, they were still making space-rock long after their rivals had returned to earth (Pink
Floyd had explored this territory several years earlier on tracks like 'Interstellar Overdrive' and 'Set The
Controls For The Heart Of The Sun'). So while Hawkwind didn't exactly invent space rock, they can
certainly claim to have taken it to its peak - the totality of the Space Ritual show, the sci-fi artwork of
their album covers, the collaboration with the very SF writers (such as Michael Moorcock) from
whom their inspiration had been taken.
That famous 70s part work, The Story Of Pop, hit the nail squarely on the head when it stated that
Hawkwind's albums are barely coherent celebrations of acid / space flight / time travelling / Marvel
comics / UFO culture. Their live shows were loud, raucous assaults, that make full use of
electronically generated sounds, pre-recorded tapes, light shows, and, of course, Stacia - their amply
endowed stripper. Like 'em or not, they're doin' a grand job - and they're the only ones really doing it
Hawkwind were enormous and 'really did it' in the days when a touring itinerary would take in the Rex
Ballroom in Bognor, the Devizes Poperama, Swansea's Patti Pavilion and Southend-On-Sea's Kursaal.
Hawkwind and their entourage - which included Stacia, DJ Andy Dunkley and lightsman Liquid Len -
ensnared thousands of impressionable young men (and some exceptionally old hippies), uniting them
with their spirit of adventure, noise terrorism and endlessly repetitive sonic workouts. It has been said
that Hawkwind played gigs as though their lives depended on it. Their reputation for aligning
them-selves to free festivals and the fringes of the avant-garde made them an extremely hot, yet
altogether mysterious property.
Their internal structure was both chaotic and cosmic, with
breadheads and freaks mixing in with the good vibes to create a
truly unique act. From 1969 to 1979 there were no fewer than 17
line-ups of the group. All things considered, Hawkwind's many
crew-members were lucky to have landed in the 21st Century with
their minds and bodies intact. Sometime singer, Bob Calvert - late,
great, died '88 - was not so fortunate. Who's to say what part
drugs played in his mental problems and untimely death from heart
disease? Meanwhile, Dave Brock played the James T. Kirk figure
on the starship Hawkwind, writing the majority of the songs and
being the only member of the original cast to make it through to
Hawkwind's final album of the 70s.
Hawkwind were never fashionable, then (and how can you tell if
you're behind the times or ahead of them, when you're busy
travelling through extra dimensions?). The production on their early
albums was, shall we say, variable, even by the standards of the
day, when such values were deemed unimportant. Furthermore,
they were forever dispatching members into hyperspace and
beaming up replacements. Calvert teleported in and out of the band,
absent from some albums, and a ghostly presence elsewhere, but
apparently in command on others. It all sounds unpromising, but
somehow Captain Brock held everything together, recording some
notable victories along the way.
Here we chart Hawkwind's nine-year voyage through the alternative
universe of 70s space-rock. Though the 'Wind have continued
on-and-off to hawk their wares, the 70s will forever be their golden
age and the legacy of that time still lives on today. Their influence
was arguably one of the most obvious of all prog bands on the
punk explosion of '76/77. Although punk's songs were undeniably
shorter, the sonic punch was exactly the same. Though they may
not be aware of it (or care to admit to it), later stylists such as
Bauhaus, Joy Division, the Fall, the Cure, Spiritualized, Regular
Fries and Blur owe much to Hawkwind's endeavours. And we still
have their great works, passed down through time and space to the
current age (man!)
"We weren't the gentle sub-acid Moodies we were made out to be",
opined Lemmy Kilmister of his alma mater, Hawkwind. "We were a
black fucking nightmare. A post-apocalypse horror sound-track.
We wanted to make people's heads and sphincters explode."
For many, Hawkwind was where the 60s never ended, a last
rallying cry for hippiedom, keeping the freak flag flying long after
everybody else had retreated to yoga and yogis. Sure, they played
free festivals and they took psychedelics by the shovelful, but there
was always something dark, hard and urban about Hawkwind that
was galaxies away from their US countercultural counterparts such
as the Grateful Dead.
Part of it was the brutal barrage of the music: born of technical limitations, its directness also put them
at odds with the post-psychedelic pomp of most UK proggers. Part of it was the way that the
artlessness of their street-level world-view democratised the era's cosmic preoccupations in a way that
the 60s never did. Part of it, of course, was the mere presence of Lemmy- a glowering biker
amphetamine nightmare on legs.
Hawkwind didn't form so much as fall together, a process that has continued to the present day, with
line-ups lucky to complete an album together, let alone tackle any subsequent tour. That falling-together
occurred in freak heaven, late-60s London, coalescing around the one person who would be present in
every single line-up, 28-year-old busker Dave Brock ("I don't really do much except play music", as he
said on Hawkwind's debut album).
Bored of the blues, Brock wanted to move in more experimental, spacey directions. The arrival of
roadie Nik Turner ("I just dig freaking about on saxophones") gave the band its name and added, via his
looks and sax, an extra freak quotient, while Brock's old mate Dik Mik ("I was about to hit the road for
India when I joined. I've got practically no musical knowledge but I figure if you let it become your
whole trip, you can do anything you like and do it well") provided the essential electronic
embellishments. "We soon established the pattern," remembers Brock today "create a theme, go off at a
tangent and then come back." With their emphasis on repetition and simplicity, Hawkwind were in
effect an honorary Krautrock band. Indeed Brock was a big Can and Amon Duul fan. But where the
classically-trained Can played one chord as a minimalist discipline, Hawkwind played one chord because
that was all they could manage.
While Hawkwind's directness meant they were embraced by the freaks, the 'heads, and the ecological
and political groups (Greenpeace, the Angry Brigade) they benefitted, the press weren't so impressed.
'They didn't understand that a lot of bands aren't able to just play one chord", laughs Brock. 'The art of
music is simplicity. They just thought we were out of it on acid." That wasn't true? "Er, well ..."
In fact, almost immediately after recording their first album,
guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton quit after "freaking out on LSD and
seeing Jesus". As with many future defections, it wouldn't be the
last they'd see of him (he was to return in 1980). "Dik Mik would
vanish for days on end," laughs Brock, "but that's just the way it
Given this in-built chaos, Hawkwind's first album, created at the
very cusp of the 70s, is surprisingly coherent, thanks largely to the
presence of Pretty Thing Dick Taylor in the producer's chair. Its
cover, depicting snake-like lizards emerging from piles of hash
leaves, defined the semi-paranoid territory that the group were to so
effectively occupy. "That was the great magical album," says
Brock. "It was quite daring, I thought." 'Paranoia, Paranoia' and
particularly the epic scream-test 'Seeing It As You Really Are' bear
him out on the album, which is largely a sequence of hypnotic,
Strangely, 1971's In Search Of Space would be considerably less
accomplished, despite the presence of Amon Duul bassist Dave
Anderson. While the whole venture has an endearing innocence to
it, the 'songs' were weak, the playing wobbly and the production
wayward. "At one point we just decided fuck it, let's phase the whole lot'", laughs Brock. "It was like
hearing music blown about by the wind at festivals." The key cut from this album, 'Master Of The
Universe', is thus a curious hybrid of aggressive potency (those blistering power chords; the sci-fi lyrics)
and windblown impotence (the tempo and tune-defying middle section).
Hendrix roadie, blues veteran and Dik Mik chum Lemmy Kilmister would live and die by the same sword:
Hawkwind's 'whoever shows up, goes up' ethos. Dave Anderson, as a pro, refused to do free gigs. "But
at one Ladbroke Grove show, like a cunt, he left his guitar in the gear van," chuckles Lemmy. "It was like
'please steal my gig'. I'd never played bass in my life."
The chemistry was as perfect as the chemicals: Lemmy was in. "That was the only time in my life I had
musical telepathy with another person", observes Lemmy. "Me and Dave could have our backs to each
other and make the same change." Were drugs a part of that? "Of course they were! As soon as I
stopped taking acid, it went. But in those early days we were always smashed. You just learned to
function that way. Of course, Nik couldn't do it straight or smashed. He thinks he's a free spirit playing
impro-fusion jazz, but in reality he's just a second-rate sax player." Brock concurs with this damning
opinion of Turner's abilities: "He'd just honk right through your vocals", he laughs. So why did they stick
with him? "He was part of the team," shrugs Brock. Lemmy adds, "he looked great - it was like having a
Viking fucking berserker on stage".
1972's Doremi Fasol Latido, though again murkily produced, was - as Lemmy noted - "a step in the right
direction". The songs were better ('Down Through The Night') while Lemmy's bass added a new
muscularity to the sound. He also contributed 'The Watcher', a haunting, bluesy number featuring a
gravel-free, but still startling vocal. Lemmy's vocals would figure again on Hawkwind's first, last and
only smash-hit single, 'Silver Machine'. "They tried everybody but the drummer before they let me do it,"
Lemmy growls today. The track had been recorded at Hawkwind's biggest gig to date, at London's fabled
Roundhouse. A tentative, 20-minute version features on the Greasy Truckers live document of the event,
boasting what Lemmy calls the "execrable Calvert vocal". Lemmy's version was a No. 3, million-selling
hit. Melody Maker put a picture of Kilmister alone on the cover. "That really wound them up," he laughs,
"and led to all the later problems. I was supposed to just be the bass player."
A chart career was not to be Hawkwind's fate. The follow-up, 'Urban Guerilla' - this time retaining
Calvert's lead vocal -was withdrawn by United Artists when it made No. 39 in August 1973 after a spate
of IRA bombings in the UK. "It was stupid to withdraw it," says Brock now. "They were paranoid they'd
get bombed. I thought that record was what everything was about in the 70s". 'Urban Guerilla'
summarised the Hawkwind political position - the dark side of the counterculture, the harsher realpolitik
of the 70s after peace'n'love had got the hippies nowhere. "We definitely had a sense that we were part of
a revolutionary movement" agrees Lemmy, "not some hippie-drippy never land - something much more
By this time, the band's gigs were becoming counter-cultural events in themselves. South African-born
poet Calvert had been reciting his works on stage since 1971. Sometime sci-fi/fantasy novelist Michael
Moorcock -another cohort of the Ladbroke Grove scene- would deputise for him. DJ Andy Dunkley
actually employed two decks to drop a little Stockhausen into the Hawkwind mix. But what really
endeared them to many a great-coated teenager was that they'd also be joined by the 6' 3" dancer, Stacia.
True to the Hawkwind spirit, she asked one day if she could dance on stage when they were playing in
Exeter, promptly took all her clothes off, and from then on was simply part of the team - no contracts,
no wage disputes, just a simple 'you can share a room with Lemmy'. "A great bird," notes the bassist of
his room-mate. "And no, I never shagged her. We were pals."
The accepted wisdom is that Hawkwind's soul at least temporarily vanished with Lemmy and that 1976's
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music is consequently an overly musicianly, faux-funky failure. Sure,
Hawkwind now boasted a brace of 'proper' musicians and the sound had become more subtle, but the
album builds on the eastern inflections of Warrior On The Edge Of Time to create some of their most
beguiling music, especially 'Reefer Madness', 'Steppenwolf' and House's 'Chronoglide Skyway'
(miscredited to Alan Powell on the label). 'Kerb Crawler' featured Dave Gilmour on guitar and was
remixed by the Floyd guitarist for single release. What's more, Robert Calvert's reappearance as lead
vocalist - Brock's resignation of the role had mystified many - rejuvenated the band. His lyrics possessed a
wealth of wit and wordplay and his precise, playful vocals were just as wily. "Calvert was brilliant," says
House, "he was a magnetic stage presence. Even though he did have a tendency to end up in mental
hospitals." Brock agrees: "Bob was a genius in his way. He was hugely underrated." As is this album
Hawkwind might have lost some of their innocence, but they hadn't yet jettisoned their joie de vivre.
Musicianliness did almost see the band come a cropper at this point, however. Ironically - given his own
musical reputation - Turner, alongside Rudolph and Powell, actually sacked Brock, wishing to pursue
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music's more jazz-funk elements. "Things got really out of hand and
unpleasant," remembers House. "There was this move towards professionalism, which was not what
Hawkwind were about!" In a reassertion of Hawkwind brass tacks, Brock both reaffirmed the band's 'no
trimmings' ethos and his own leadership. Turner, Powell and Rudolph became those jettisoned trimmings.
By the next year's Quark, Strangeness And Charm, iron fist Simon King was back on drums, punk was
taking over the country and the newly-honed Hawkwind sound found them strangely close to, as the
album's best song had it, 'The Spirit Of The Age'. On that song, if Calvert's cryogenic cloning lyric wasn't
punky enough, Brock's two-chord backing drove the point home. "We weren't conscious of trying to fit
in with that sound," says Brock, "we were still an early-70s throwback, but we were playing aggressive
music again." Not only that, but Hawkwind's championing of anarchic ideals put them on the same page
as many punks. "I know a lot of the punk bands liked us," says Brock.
Certainly punk godmother David Bowie was well aware of Hawkwind's activities, poaching Simon House
from the band shortly after ("I couldn't say 'no' to David Bowie, could I?"). Cue another period of
confusion, summarised by the PXR-5 album, a mish-mash of different line-ups, "one of those in-between
records", as Brock calls it. Surprisingly, it contains some of Hawkwind's best material, not least House
and Calvert's 'High Rise', and 'Death Trap' - a superb slice of supercharged punk.
Brock and Calvert subsequently regrouped and renamed themselves the Hawklords. Having rejected
professionalism once, this sounded a bit too smooth for Hawkwind, and bar the splendidly punky '25
Years', in places a little tired. Brock
recalls, "we'd worked out a stage
show inspired by Metropolis, with
six dancers. Bob dressed in his
grey uniform. But it cost a huge
amount of money and halfway
through the tour we had to get rid
of half of them." And then Calvert
started to crack up again. "He had a
fight with Michael Moorcock
whose wife he was sleeping with -
on-stage at the Rainbow!", laughs
Brock. "Then .there was a big
show in Paris in 1978 when he tried to cut bassist Adrian Shaw's head off with a sword. He wouldn't
leave the stage. We left him in Paris, I remember driving the car down the pavement with Bob running
after us." By the American leg of the tour, Brock too had had enough. He even sold his guitar.
Then, all of a sudden, at this Year Zero, Brock got his second 'Wind. As such, Live 79 marks the end of
the old Hawkwind and the launch of the new. With Brock back on vocals, guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton
returning to the fold (after a decade) and Gong's Tim Blake on hand, this new line-up embraced a mature
progginess previously beyond their reach. However, the album contains enough nods to punk to forgive
self-indulgent noodling, not least Brock's cockney holler through 'Spirit Of The Age' and the kiss-off to
'Silver Machine (Requiem)'.
That parenthetical 'Requiem' spoke too soon, however. For the Hawkwind of the unwelcoming 80s were a
thing of endless repackages, shoddy compilations of their 70s glory years, managing both to sully their
past and outshine their present. There is, even so, a dark, ugly (but strangely innocent) part of the 70s that
will be forever Hawkwind ...
The concert cornucopia led, inevitably, to a live album and for many
what is the undisputed highlight of Hawkwind's career - the double
Space Ritual, financed largely by the profits from 'Silver Machine'.
The lavishly packaged album was, effectively, a summary of
Hawkwind's career so far (latido). Says Brock now, "the whole album
was quite fantastically worked out - from the cover [a huge pull-out
dissection of the cosmic and strange with extra naked breasts], to the
music, which was quite revolutionary - poetry with electronics and
lunacy". Says Lemmy: "Space Ritual was the best time. We were all
still loonies - spaced out, tripped out, rolling around the country like a
maniac circus". An American tour, featuring the full Space Ritual live
set, attracted much word-of-mouth praise, a lavish party in their
honour at the Hayden Planetarium in New York attended by Stevie
Wonder and Alice Cooper, and Stacia spending Christmas 1973 with
Arthur Kane of the New York Dolls. "After that, things got more staid,
more record company-orientated and some of the fun went out of it,"
Lemmy wistfully recalls.
As Lemmy suggests, the artless, communal good vibes couldn't outlast
the inevitable three-pronged onslaught of materialism, musicianship
and maturity. Nevertheless 1974's Hall Of The Mountain Grill -
featuring material road-tested on the US 1999 Party tour with Man and
named after the band's favourite caff on London's Portobello Road - is
a great, if not entirely representative album. Brock gives it somewhat
faint praise. "We lost some of the wild electronics, I suppose we
became a bit more like a progressive rock band." New keyboard and
violin player Simon House may have come from a more musicianly
background (avant-classicists the Third Ear Band), but his
contributions texturalise rather than temper the band's power. 'Wind
Of Change' may be diffuse and delicate by Hawkwind's previous
standards, but it's remarkably direct by those of progressive rock.
What was most definitely unchanged was Hawkwind's 'flexible'
approach to line-ups. The inevitable post-album reshuffle found
keyboardist Del Dettmar departing, and Simon King sub Alan Powell
being retained as second drummer once King returned. 1975's Warrior
On The Edge Of Time continued Hawkwind's move into maturity:
there were delicate ballads (Brock's lovely 'The Demented Man'), there
was drama ('The Golden Void', House's finest four minutes); hell, even
Nik Turner seemed to have been practising. On 'Golden Void' and
'Magnu' his sax and flute combined eerily with House's violin. Rather
than maturity finding them 'going prog', however, these
Eastern-sounding tracks sound more like precursors of the new wave
experiments of early Ultravox! or Japan: indeed, House would appear
on the latter's Tin Drum album in 1981.
The problem with Warrior On The Edge Of Time was, in fact, down
to a different 'M' altogether: Michael Moorcock, a poor substitute for
Calvert, who had temporarily left the band to promote his Lucky Lief
And The Longships album. His recitations were both over the top and
-for the street-wise Hawkwind- uncharacteristically 'Dungeons & Dragons'-esque. "Moorcock would
panic," says Lemmy, "and his voice would steadily rise in volume and pitch." Shortly afterwards, Lemmy
himself was edged out of the band while on tour in America, ostensibly over a drug bust on the American
/ Canadian border. As he told RC in 1999, "being fired from Hawkwind for drugs is a bit like being pushed
off the Empire State Building for liking heights. I was doing the wrong drugs. I was doing speed and they
were all acid freaks".
His replacement, the Pink Fairies' Paul Rudolph, as had happened with Lemmy himself, was literally
waiting in the wings. "They'd flown him out at the first opportunity," says Lemmy, "just looking for an
excuse to get rid of me." Simon House admits: "It was a mistake that Lemmy got fired. Retrospect is a
wonderful thing, but it was a misunderstanding". Lemmy sees it more as a battle between him and Turner,
essentially, for Hawkwind's soul. "Nik and I were never close, and as time went on he seemed to think it
was his band. That wasn't what Hawkwind was about at all." He sighs rather wistfully. "I'd probably still
be with Hawkwind now if I hadn't been fired." Turner attempted to patch things up with Lemmy in 1999.
"It took him 25 years, but he finally apologised to me. I said - thanks, Nik - that's really helped a lot."
Calvert commented at the time that sacking Lemmy the way they did was utterly unforgivable - "it was
the worst thing that ever happened in the history of the group". Their Reading appearance in 1975 also
marked the departure of the lovely Stacia, who wed Ron Dyke, drummer of Ashton Gardener Dyke and
took up a career in modelling. Little has been heard of her since, though her memory, for many, still lives