|The following article is another loose home-grown translation from Dutch to English. It first appeared in a
1982 issue of Dutch music magazine 'OOR'. The author is Bericht Vaneen Buitenbeentje
'If marijuana is harmless, how come so many people who smoke it listen to Hawkwind?'
The press has never taken the group, who coalesced in the 60's from a bunch of free-ranging Portobello
Road hippies, seriously - and has now been treating them with this kind of derision for twelve years. 'The
Spaced-out People's Band', wrote Melody Maker, and it was an apt definition.
Dave Brock paid his dues as a busker, Nik Turner was for a while a London-based labourer, and Terry Ollis
had worked in the scrap metal trade. Through intensive drug use (and abuse) they dreamed of higher things,
yearning for distant galaxies: a creative escapism.
We were born to go... Time we left this world today... Children of the sun...
While journalists regularly speak of them as an anachronism, the band sees itself as futuristic. The music of
Hawkwind has essentially remained unchanged down the years, though this hardly applies to the core
members of the group, yet they calmly sail onwards. Hawkwind stands with one foot in and one foot out of
the music business. They regularly play for free for some good cause or another; they maintain close
contact with their fans, many of whom have come to be considered as friends: they don't sign autographs
and the dressing room is open to everyone. There is a kind of fan club, the Church of Hawkwind, a name
that indicates that the band stands for more than just their music.
The group is yet perennially popular and draws their audience from the working classes. Many 'heavy metal
kids' find in Hawkwind a fitting ideology for their feelings of dissatisfaction with society and with life.
Escapism indeed, but when you have stood all day at an assembly line in a factory, your fantasy of an
evening would be a musical space trip among distant planets. That is certainly less unhealthy than a
Is there still a moment somewhere / that will surprise us with its tricks? (The Joker At The Gate)
Soon after the foundation of the band, a number of intellectual types began to dabble with the group, such as
the Space poet Robert Calvert and the Science Fiction writer Michael Moorcock, who between them, are
also responsible for the conceptualization of the Hawkwind philosophy.
In a previous Christmas edition of this paper (1979) Calvert held forth on the band's renowned history from
the 60's onward. We've quoted a few of his remarks in this story. Furthermore we took a trip to
Dunstable, England for the present piece, to see the band in action and have a word with founding Captain
Dave Brock. We complete the story with a discography [omitted] and a contribution of two readers who'd
requested something like this article...
READY FOR TAKE-OFF? 5...4...3...2...1..Zero!
1: Days Of The Underground
We smoked durban poison and turned all this noise on (Days Of The Underground)
I myself don't know the record, but according to Dave Brock, in 1967 he had a hit single in the Netherlands
with the group Famous Cure, doing a number called Sweet Mary. Mick Slattery was also in this group, and
after it had folded, Brock returned to busking. Nik Turner played in a Dutch group named Mobile Freakout
and was also a street musician. The legend goes that Brock and Turner first met each other in the
neighborhood of the Dam in Amsterdam. Brock had previously played in all sorts of Dixieland jazz bands,
but that was just his apprenticeship. In July '69 he formed Group X with Terry Ollis, Nik Turner, John
Harrison and Mick Slattery. Dick Mick Davies was the sixth member, initially employed as a roadie, but he
soon appeared on stage to do the electronics. A jam of ten minutes at the All Saints Hall helped the group get
a contract with Clearwater Productions and that meant: work! They weren't happy with the name and after
a short time as 'Hawkwind Zoo' finally changed it to Hawkwind (Turner's idea).
Their first year was renowned for chaos and confusion. Sleeping in doorways or in the band's van, playing
for free, because the promoter was a 'friend' and it was enough that they got to smoke and swallow
substances backstage. Slattery got so stoned he would be too sleepy to play, and might as well have
disappeared. Which he then did, and the latest word is that he leads a wandering lifestyle as a 'tinker' in
Ireland. DikMik left to go to India, but after three weeks turned up again back on Portobello Road.
The group got a 'cult-following', a small but devoted band of fans, that went to every gig the group played.
To them there was no distinction between good and bad performances. Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor
played for a while with the group and later also produced the debut album. Talent scout Andrew Lauder of
United Artists 'discovered' the band. And Pretties' drummer Viv Prince stood in when Terry Ollis was too
stoned to hold his sticks. Bassist John Harrison and guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton became the new
permanent members of the group. Nik Turner related in a Melody Maker interview how there were always
well-nigh inexhaustible quantities of drugs around the band and at one gig a large police presence turned up
and dragged everybody down to the station. The first of a long series of incidents between the band and the
London constabulary, which inspired Nik to the writing of his most famous composition, Brainstorm, that
includes the immortal lyric: "Paranoia police have sussed out my potion". Subsequent gigs resulted in further
Into the void we have to travel / To find the clue that will unravel (Space Is Deep).
1970: the high point of the year was the performance at the Isle of Wight festival. The band was not
contracted to appear and turned up to speak out against the high ticket prices. Their protest took the form
of a free gig outside the festival's perimeter fence. Jimi Hendrix came along to see them, but was too tired
to jam with the group. Photos of Nik Turner, with his face painted silver, appeared afterwards in all the
mainstream periodicals of the establishment.
The personnel changes gathered pace. John Harrison was replaced by Thomas Crimble, himself then
replaced by Dave Anderson, who was later replaced by Ian Kilminster, better known as Lemmy. And that's
only the bass players. Huw Lloyd Langton left the group straight after the Isle of Wight and returned to the
band ten years later: 'I needed a rest'. Well, yes... Del Dettmar, the band's soundman, became a full
member of the group as a synth-player. DikMik stayed behind in Rome during a European tour and the band
carried on without him. He turned up a month later in England and resumed his place in the band's line-up.
That's how loose Hawkwind were. DikMik: 'I was so stoned that my head was everywhere, except on this
All the members of the group lived in the Portobello Road / Ladbroke Grove area. Their meeting place was
the Mountain Grill, a cafeteria based on macrobiotic principles [?!]. In 1974 Hawkwind immortalized this
place by releasing an album called Hall Of The Mountain Grill.
Bob Calvert wrote for the underground magazine Frendz and had begun to write lyrics for the group.
Together with Dave Brock, he developed the idea of an all-encompassing multimedia show: the Space Ritual,
with which the group in the course of 1972 took in the entire country. Films, lightshow, smoke, dancers
and loud electronic effects. Calvert declaimed his space poetry, in which the modern astronaut is the
twentieth-century equivalent of the explorer of previous centuries. This mythological approach came over in
a wholly convincing way.
At least as convincing was the physique of dancer Stacia, who, in ritual ecstasy would at a given moment
strip off all her superfluous garments for the greater glory of the band of which she constituted a full
Meanwhile Terry Ollis left the circus for good and was replaced by Simon King.
The years 1972-73 are the classic years in Hawkwind's history. With Silver Machine, the group scored a
top hit, making them household names. And then 'Space Ritual' appeared, a double live album that is in my
opinion the high point of the band's discography: trance music, total electronic violence and obsessive
rhythms, with oaths, formulae and the language of the oracle, including classic Hawkwind numbers like
Born To Go, Space Is Deep, Orgone Accumulator (after Wilhelm Reich), Brainstorm and Master Of The
Universe. On this record, those interested can trace the foundation of Lemmy's revolutionary style. Lemmy
plays the bass as if it were a rhythm guitar and the effect is really quite particular. "We wanted a hit and
pushed ourselves quite hard in search of new techniques," according to Calvert.
In the succeeding years the popularity of the group subsided slowly, until in 1977 a kind of low point was
reached when the punk movement swept in with various hippie-hating announcements. Thus it had come to
pass, with time being up for Lemmy when he was arrested by Customs during an American tour in 1975.
Captain Brock has been quoted as saying he was incensed by this... Lemmy went on to lead the group
Motorhead, who've picked up the heavy street-music of Hawkwind and taken it to extremes.
Hawkwind were never the same again. The music remained very hard, urban and proletarian, but they had
lost much of their driving force. With new faces on board, the music of the group retained its spiritual,
spacey elements, but it was clear that the band had a disunited look about it, headbangers alongside mystical
DikMik left the band (this time for good). Calvert began to vacillate between the group and other
occupations, such as the writing and recording of solo projects. Between Captain Brock and Captain
Lockheed (Calvert's alter-ego), two captains on a spacecraft don't go, though they were able to kiss and
make up each time they needed to work together again. Currently it once again appears that relations
between them both are good, and there are plans for a continuation of the Space Ritual.
In '74 the band went with an extra drummer (Alan Powell) and the group's sound got updated by the arrival
of Simon House (violin, mellotron and other keyboards). Lemmy's place was taken by the former Deviants
and Pink Fairies bassist Paul Rudolph.
At the end of '76 upheavals within the group saw several departures. Rudolph and Powell left to form a
band called Kicks. 'Good old' Nik Turner had continued to honk away over and above everything and
everybody else, and it was decided that he had to go. He led his own band, Sphynx, but now, six years
later, is back in the lap of the Mothership (having also formed his own outfit Inner City Unit). Also, that
year the long relationship with United Artists had come to an end, and the group signed a contract with
Adrian Shaw joined on bass and was present for the lengthy UK tour of mid '77, with Calvert out front as
vocalist. That year the band also played the Stonehenge and Glastonbury festivals, not yet extinct, where
hippies still assembled to see the sun come up and (hours later) bands to play...
Hawkwind remains a communal band that, everywhere they go, are accompanied by friends, wives, children
and pets. Brock has established himself and his family in the countryside (Devon), where he also often also
puts a roof over the heads of the rest of the band.
Simon House was loaned out in the spring of '78 to join David Bowie's tour and didn't come back. He was
temporarily replaced by Paul Hayles, who himself left two months later, and Adrian Shaw left Hawkwind in
'78 to put together a new band with Simon House. The others carried on under the name 'Hawklords' to put
out an album and go on tour. Hawklords was as good a name as Roadhawks, being already established
within the mythology of the band. The roster of the Hawklords was as follows: Bob Calvert (voc), Dave
Brock (voc/gtr), Harvey Bainbridge (voc/bs), Steve Swindells (keyb) and Martin Griffin (dms). Swindells
had previously played keyboards in Pilot and String Driven Thing and had also cut a solo album. Griffin
replaced Simon King, but was in turn replaced ten months later by...Simon King, who later on was replaced
by...Martin Griffin. Charting the membership of the Hawks is no easy matter!
In '79 Charisma broke with the group, but their search for a new home led them to Bronze, and to a
recovery of interest in the market for the reefer-rockers. Steve Swindells had been replaced with Tim Blake
(ex-Gong) and Huw Lloyd Langton was back in the Hawk's nest. On the first LP for the new label the
group needed to employ a guest drummer (neither King nor Griffin, nor even both, being available and
willing). The name they brought in will ring bells (Cream? Blind Faith? Air Force?) : none other than Ginger
Baker himself. His arrival as a permanent member was announced with much bombast by Bronze, making
clear that the alliance between Baker and the Hawks was no cynical old boys' supergroup.
For the last few years the group has been on the Active label (distributed through RCA), and have released
three albums: still going strong. Michael Moorcock: "One reason why Hawkwind are still going strong these
days is because the current scene has caught up with them. When I first saw them they seemed like
barbarians who'd got hold of a load of electrical gear; instead of being self-conscious and pseudo-intellectual,
they were actually *of* the electronic age. I think nearly all their best stuff has been connected with the city
and technology." Calvert: "Drugs now play a less important role than in the beginning. We have a very
mixed audience and no longer play only to dope-freaks, so you yourself can no longer stand there stoned on
2: This Is Your Captain Speaking
"We made a neat single for Flicknife Records, the proceeds of which go to Amnesty International. About
ten thousand copies of that single (Who's Gonna Win The War) have sold and as you see that and what kind
of profit that yields...it makes you think. Big record companies, who take off a much larger percentage, say
that they have to sell at least double that amount to maintain their profit. I no longer believe that story." The
many wrinkles in his face betray his age (about 40), but the twinkle in his eyes suggests a lively mind. He
has been around for a few years now, and time has made him wise. We laughed about a recent incident.
Recently, the doorman at the distinguished RCA building refused Brock and his female companion entry.
After a quick call from a phone box, the two of them approached the building again and this time were
admitted. This much is clear: RCA are not in good standing with the Hawks.
How do matters stand at present with Calvert?
"Things are good. He's playing the Hammersmith Odeon with us. We've always been good friends, but yes,
once in a while there is a quarrel."
Bob said to me a year ago: 'Hawkwind is not a drugs band, but a Science Fiction band.'
"That's true, too."
But there's a link between the two...
"Yes, there is. It's about expanding the mind using whatever means. You do not need to take drugs. I don't
want to advertise the fact, but in some situations it can help once in a while. You must know how far to go
with it. Live and learn, and then stop, that's my motto. I am against excess, against all excesses."
The present generation has now discovered drugs such as LSD and has started to listen to the music from
"Yes, not much has changed. The same kind of people, the same clothes. We're once again doing a lot of
free benefit gigs, for CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and that kind of thing. It doesn't get
much publicity. We just go off and do it."
The 70's saw a decline of idealism, which appears now to be coming back in.
"That seems right to me. I hope that it is - it is in every way what is needed at the moment. Sometimes,
once in a while you get despondent as you see how particular freedoms are again becoming threatened. It
seems very much like a kind of conspiracy."
How are relations with Moorcock at the moment?
"He does stuff with us from time to time, but he is no longer the sole source of inspiration for us as much as
formerly. He has written a number of particularly good pieces. He still puts together lists for me with
possible song titles. There are always a couple of suitable ideas there."
Two numbers on the new LP, 'Choose Your Masques', deal with Utopia. Are you Utopians?
"Definitely not. The message of those numbers is just that people are looking for Utopia, but it is not to be
found here. With Man as he is, there is little hope for the future. People want more and more cities, with
the consequence that every ideal situation becomes spoiled by particular individuals. Human failings, of
course. Like the man who is never satisfied with what he's got, always looking to take something from
someone else. A sad state of affairs, for sure."
Do you live rather reclusively?
"I want to live a quiet life with my wife and children. I don't mix with others too much, I'm becoming a
little bit anti-social (laughs). It's a very simple existence, in contrast to before. My ten-year-old son plays
around on the synthesizer, he has good ideas. I used him on our last LP. For the last four years I've been
doing up the house, because it was falling down. There is electricity, but my I get my water from a well. I
grow vegetables in my own garden, and I no longer eat junk like hamburgers and that kind of food."
How are things going with the group, currently?
"Very well. You'll see for yourself later. We're doing a big show with TV monitors, video screens,
lightshow and dancers. We are still a visual band. We are not yet where we need to be, but it's coming.
The nucleus of this band, Huwie, Harvey and I, have had a few years together and know how to make ideas
work. With Nik back in the band it's going even better, he has good ideas, is enthusiastic and does a lot of
Wasn't he thrown out of the band because he got a bit too enthusiastic with the theatrics?
"Yes, that's right, ha! He was over-playing, didn't know when to stop. He played over everything, through
the song, over the guitar solos. I once had to throw a beer can at his head to get him to stop. Then he was
quiet. Nothing like that happens now."
Do you have any particular interest in the occult?
Brock asks dancer Kris: do we have any particular interest in the occult?!
"No, we are not much interested in the occult, we are much more particularly interested in the power of the
music. There is a very mystical side to the music of the band, there are double meanings. We get a bit
weary of these intense figures in the dressing room, who come and tell us how they interpreted particular
numbers. That makes you want to keep your your distance a bit, but sometimes the double meanings are
What is the Church or Hawkwind club, precisely?
"It is not a fan club, because our followers aren't your standard fans. It is an Appreciation Society. The
members get points when they present proof of membership, and get they discounts on all sorts of things,
like T-shirts, buttons and songbooks. In contrast to a normal fan club, the band is very involved with the
association. We answer all letters and work with the people that the Church brings together. A group of
American members has requested a minister's certificate for me, so that I am now a minister of the Church
of Hawkwind. I can marry people, baptize children and do burials!" (Fortunately he's laughing at this point!)
As well as the people who seem to take your lyrics very seriously, there are also those who consider them a
"I know that. Our lyrics tell the truth. On 'Who's Gonna Win The War?' we say: nobody. Is that not the
truth? When you believe in what you do, it's a 24 hours a day job. This band is my life, naturally I believe
in everything that the band has to say."
There are those who've said that escapism is all it is.
"I am convinced that people need to have different ways to flee from misery and to see the sunlight. It
seems to me that there is nothing wrong with escapism so long as you always come back from it. We give
our audience the chance to escape, but we let them think for themselves, too."
Are you ahead of your time?
"In some ways, yes. Take the song Death Trap. A few years after that song the book Death Trap
appeared, and now the film."
Has the political element been put on the back burner?
"You're right about that, but it does still exist."
Previously you've tried to cultivate a social consciousness among the public.
"That is now less than it used to be. The area where we then lived and worked later became so
impoverished, there is almost nothing of it left. The world's getting more and more like the city in '1984'.
The use of television screens in public buildings, that's developing into a kind of Newspeak!"
Whatever became of Stacia?
"She got married to a drummer and lives in Germany. She's a housewife," (smiles) "or at least she was the
last time I spoke to her, which was almost three years ago."
Do you have any nostalgia for the old days?
"Well, sometimes. The audience was much more involved in what we were doing. Everyone was more
community-minded. Kris is writing a book about the history of Hawkwind. She has talked with all the ex-
members. She's writing it together with Mike Butterworth, who wrote 'The Time Or The Hawklords' (an S.
F. story with the members of the band as heroes). It comes out next year on Eel Pie."
Do you ever still see Lemmy?
"From time to time, in a pub on Portobello Road, where he always hangs out. It was a few months ago that
I last spoke to him."
How about DikMik?
"He still lives in Notting Hill Gate. Except not at the moment, because he's in the nick on account of one or
two indiscretions." (rueful grin)
How was it working with Ginger Baker?
"Tiring. Rows in dressing rooms and that kind of thing, nothing else. In the old band, you had seven
characters, each with their own strong personality. They didn't care about where their next pay packet was
coming from. They just did it. Later on we had musicians come into the band, who only thought about the
dough. Nik is not like that, he's still the same as before. So it's started to improve now."
Kris: "Previously there was always something unexpected happening when you saw the band. Later on it
became a normal rock concert, where there was nothing going on."
Dave: "That unpredictability is returning, but we still have to work at making the gigs as exciting as in
What is your favorite Hawkwind-album?
"The first. I also listen closely to our live tapes. Bob's album, Captain Lockheed, is also very good."
Do you still play 'Silver Machine'?
"No, we've stopped doing it. We now play Ejection from the Captain Lockheed album. I would gladly re-
record that number and bring it out as a single. A very strong song. We're probably going to release a live
album recorded at our concert at the Hammersmith Odeon. Bob Calvert and I are thinking further about a
successor to the Space Ritual. It will probably be called 'Earth Ritual'. I already have the music totally
written for it and Bob is practically done with the lyrics. We have to get moving with this. Bob is a strange
guy, he's spent time in an institution recently, but he is now once again totally fit and healthy. You see, we
just carry on, without changing spectacularly. It is still more or less the same music by the same people.
Perhaps we are just timeless."
-Bericht Vaneen Buitenbeentje
As mentioned above, I've omitted the discography. But here are the 2 short pieces contributed by readers:
The music of Hawkwind is certainly not easily digestible. The description that I read in the double decker
issue of OOR of a year or five ago was very striking: "dark, dense and dirty". Hawkwind, for me, are an
overwhelming combination of cosmic synthesizers, tearing sax, distorted guitar and heavy bass. The whole
thing is a wall of sound with a science fiction element, which is brilliantly expressed in music, lyrics and
Hawkwind make timeless music, that yields nothing to recent developments and thereby gets too little
-Hans van Eerden
A droning, resounding rhythm section and the characteristic rat-a-tat rhythm guitar playing of Dave Brock,
overlaid with a carpet of whistling, growling and rattling synthesizers. These are the ingredients of the
unique Hawkwind sound. Music which is broadly split into stamping space-rock and thoughtful, dreamy,
Pre-eminently music of the night, the 'Lords continue to make records. Their best: Space Ritual. In short,
Hawkwind have been making real brainstorming music for more than twelve years and they show no sign of
-Peter van Belzen