|This interview with Dave Brock, and accompanying articles on Robert Calvert and Michael Moorcock,
appeared in the Feb 1993 issue of Record Col1ector - many thanks to Mick Crook for tracking it down!
Hawkwind have endured dozens of line-up changes over the course of their twenty-year-plus history,
and only one member, guitarist/vocalist Dave Brock, has managed to stay the full course. We caught up
with him recently, just after the news that the band's latest album, "Electric Tepee", had made a
respectable showing on the national charts, in the hope of finding out more about the mass of Hawkwind
titles on the market, his days busking with Don Partridge, ex-band member Lemmy and how the IRA put
paid to Hawkwind's career as a singles' band.
|Hawkwind Solo - Dave Brock
Mark Paytress talks to the ever-present guitarist and vocalist about Hawkwind's lengthy career
Record Collector: Hawkwind have a massive
discography, though I presume you're not wholly
happy with all that's come out on the market,
particularly during the past decade.
Dave Brock: You're right, but there are a lot of
releases that I don't even know about!
RC: Why does this stuff keep turning up?
DB: Well, take Samurai Records, for instance.
Because there was so much compilation and re-
released material about, Jim White thought it
would be a good idea to bring together a
catalogue of all our own stuff that we liked, in
the hope of stopping all that. But we never got
any royalties out of the "Anthology" sets we did
with them, and as far as we know they've sold
around 66,000 of that triple set. Then he sold the
catalogue on to various companies. We were
never told what was going on so eventually we
sued him. The contents of those three albums
are now spread across something like ten discs. But they aren't the only ones who've not been paying
RC: Couldn't you oversee a fully comprehensive reissue programme of the band's 'proper' albums and
bring the right recordings back into the public eye?
DB: I wish I could, but it really depends on these companies getting in touch with us. They must know
we're still around, 'cos every time we tour, there are three or four compilations put out to tie in with it.
It's really confusing for the fans and annoying for us. We even tried to stop Dave Anderson at Demi-
Monde, who used to be in the group. He got a lot of stuff through Nik Turner, much of which was
badly recorded. Looking back, at least the "Space Ritual Vol.2" album, which is basically the out-takes
from the original album, is a legitimate release, not a load of old crap that someone's recorded on a cheap
RC: Couldn't you go back, remaster the old records, add a few relevant rarities and reactivate the back
catalogue in a way that will both please the collector and elevate the band's best work? Or even compile
a retrospective box set, with a detailed booklet?
DB: That's what I hope Douglas Smith is doing. We've got the Flicknife stuff, and I think he's gonna
do the deal through Castle, 'cos they've got the GWR and Legacy material. The three RCA albums are in
the hands of Kingsley Ward, and I've been trying to get him to release them for the last three or four
RC: What about the United Artists material?
DB: Well, they still own the rights to that. I write to these companies sporadically, but I'm sure the
letters end up in the bin!
RC: You'd been playing in bands for several years before the formation of Hawkwind, and some of
these recordings have turned up on the Weird Tapes series. There are rumours that, as Famous Cure,
you released a single in Holland during the late 60s.
DB: Yes, that was the only thing we did. It was blues, basically. I've got the original tape. We did a
tour in Holland with a circus in 1967 under the overal title 'Tent 67'. We were the B-group on a bill that
included the top Dutch bands like Cuby and the Blizzards and Golden Earring, and we all played in front
of a big psychedelic light-show in a tent. One of the tracks Famous Cure recorded was "Sweet Mary",
and the single got to something like No. 5 in the Dutch chart. But we didn't have any work permits and
so we got kicked out of the country.
RC: How did that develop into Hawkwind?
DB: Well, the blues went into psychedelia, making weird noises on the guitar. In fact, I'd gone back to
busking in the streets and I met up with various characters including Don Partridge...
RC: Of "Rosie" fame?
DB: ...that's right. He became a very well-known busker! He decided to get a tour of buskers together,
and we travelled round the country in a double-decker bus. Out of that came a buskers' album, and I
decided to form a group which then became Hawkwind. Don Poole, who worked for Essex Music, told
me that if I got a band together, I could do some tapes, so we went off to EMI's Abbey Road studios in
a little room down there, and recorded "Hurry On Sundown", which has since been released by
Flicknife. The band then was called Hawkwind Zoo. This was in 1969.
RC: Give or take the odd Joe Meek record, Bowie's "Space Oddity" and some of the early Floyd's
material, Hawkwind are always depicted as the real pioneers of 'space rock', enhanced with effects and
stage shows. Who was the prime motivator behind that?
DB: Space was the final frontier. I mean, we all used to read science-fiction magazines and books. We
began making weird noises, like putting a steel rod along the guitar strings, and using echo units. Then
Dik Mik joined and got an audio generator and echo unit. Actually, there used to be a 60s band called
Silver Apples, who consisted of a drummer and a guy with about six audio generators.
RC: Did they make any records?
DB: Yeah, they made a couple of albums, "Silver Apples" and "Contact", I think. Anyway, Dik Mik got
the audio generator, then Bob Calvert, who was a poet, joined us and on we went from there.
RC: Was the pull of your origins as a Ladbroke Grove community-type band part of the reason why
you didn't follow-up the surprise success of "Silver Machine"?
DB: We did follow it up! We actually released "Urban Guerilla", but at that point, the IRA had let a load
of bombs off in London. The single had gone straight into the charts, but the BBC didn't like the words,
which were about urban warfare, and wanted to ban it from airplay. Bob and Nik's place in Gloucester
Road got raided by the secret services, which was probably also linked with the fact that we were doing
lots of benefits for anarchist-type units, the White Panthers and all that, "Frendz" magazine, centres of
alternative thinking. So United Artists got cold feet, and decided to withdraw all copies from the shops.
That would have been a Top Five single and who knows what would have happened then.
RC: Do you see the United Artists years as the band's golden age?
DB: It was a successful time. Looking back, I think we lived life to excess, I couldn't do it now. We
went to America, where we were supported by several bands who've gone on to become very big now.
We were playing big 8-12,000 [seat] venues, and "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" was very successful
RC: Was Lemmy, who was with the band during the early 70s, just as much the rock'n'roll nutcase
then as he's well known for now?
DB: He hasn't changed that much! The band had a lot of characters in it in the 70s. The music biz was
a bit more avant-garde in those days than it is now.
RC: He seemed to ride the punk rock thing well with Motorhead, whereas Hawkwind developed into the
Hawklords and went through a sticky patch. Did you see the writing on the wall?
DB: Well, Johnny Rotten came in to see us one night with his minder. There was a knock at the door
and this bloke says "Is it alright if Johnny comes in and has a word with you?" There was just Bob
Calvert and me there. And he came in, shook our hands and said, "If it wasn't for you, I doubt if I
would have got all this together". That was quite nice, and in our way, we probably influenced a lot of
RC: New generations of fans, including some who probably weren't born when "Silver Machine"
charted, still warm to the band. What is it that continues to excite younger audiences?
DB: We always had that reputation of being an alternative band and our shows are very good. But I
wouldn't keep on doing it unless I actually enjoyed it.
RC: Didn't you insist on a vinyl pressing of the new "Electric Tepee" album?
DB: The reason we wanted vinyl is that I didn't have a CD player and I'm sure there are a load of other
people who are still in the same boat. I must admit I actually went out yesterday and bought one.
RC: Are you preparing for the festival season this year?
DB: At the moment, we're not doing anything, though we'll probably do two or three. We've been
working really hard, doing this album and then the tour, it was five months on the go. As we're down to
a three-piece now, we have to compensate. When our guitarist Huwie left, it took me about a year to
actually get back to playing guitar. I'd sunk back into playing keyboards a bit more. Now I've Midi-ed
the guitar to the keyboards so I can play both, and you have to really pay attention to do that.
RC: Does it still feel like Hawkwind, with you being the only original member?
DB: Sometimes it does!
RC: Do you ever play with Nik Turner or any of the others?
DB: No. I haven't seen them for years. Lemmy's played with us a few times on and off. He's the only
one I ever see, actually - I'm a bit of a recluse now. And Nik's got a farm in West Wales, where he
plays in a group with all his family.
RC: Are there many studio out-takes from the band's career?
DB: I've got some 24-track tapes here. I was on the phone to some of the people who do acid house
stuff who'd sent me a letter and a tape of them sampling Hawkwind material. And they said "Are you
interested?" So I got back to them and sent them a tape to see what they'd do with it. I heard a band
called Beautiful People who sampled a Hendrix guitar solo and it's highly exciting, hearing modern music
and all of a sudden Hendrix comes flying out of the speakers.
RC: What about left-overs from album sessions?
DB: I think there is stuff left over, but I haven't got those. I'd imagine EMI would have some. There
was even a good video made when we were at Charisma to accompany the Hawklords album. I'd love
to see that again. I've also been trying to get hold of the "Silver Machine" clip which the BBC have got.
They had a film crew at Dunstable, and recorded about half-an-hour of the show, which was where the
"Silver Machine" clip for "Top Of The Pops" came from.
Robert Calvert rose to fame via his role as resident poet in Hawkwind between 1970 and 1972. After
then, he became a fully-fledged band member, penning lyrics for Hawkwind's most successful single,
"Silver Machine", and continued to work with them on and off for the rest of the decade. Calvert,
who died suddenly from a heart attack in 1988, also issued several interesting solo records, many of
which are highly rated by Hawkwind collectors.
Following the success of "Silver Machine", Robert Calvert left Hawkwind in November 1973, having
already released his first single, "Ejection", with musicians culled mainly from the band. Early copies,
which came in a Rodney Matthews' picture sleeve, and featured a slightly different mix to the ones
released in a plain sleeve, are currently valued at around £20.
Also from the Feb 93 issue of Record Col1ector...
|Hawkwind Solo - Robert Calvert
Brian Tawn tracks the solo career of the late poet, novelist and songwriter
Calvert's first solo album, "Captain Lockheed
And The Starfighters", appeared in May
1974. While all copies of the album were
housed in a gatefold sleeve and came with a
stapled lyric booklet, the labels on early and
later pressings differed. Initially the plain
United Artists ones were used, but after a
while, blue labels bearing the "Starfighter" logo
appeared. Copies adorned with the latter also
came in an inner sleeve with a similar design.
When sales were hit by the cancellation of a
promotional tour, the album soon became
collectable and the complete package currently
sells for up to Â£30.
Collectors unable to locate a copy were
delighted when BGO reissued it in 1987 in its'
original gatefold cover, complete with lyric
book, followed by a CD the following year.
One song in the booklet, "The Widow's Song",
was excluded from the album, but was
recorded in 1984 for the "Hawkwind Friends and Relations Vol. 3" album. Robert's only other activity
in 1974 was guesting on two LPs, Adrian Wagner's "Distances Between Us" (Atlantic K 50082) and
Nektar's "Down To Earth" (UA UAG 29680), both currently valued at Â£12.
Calvert's second album, "Lucky Leif and the Longships", emerged in September 1975, by which time
he'd rejoined Hawkwind, this time as principal lyricist, vocalist and frontman. This LP too, was
reissued by BGO in its' original gatefold and laster on CD. Interestingly, one track, "The Making Of
Midgard", has a different arrangement on these reissues.
Firmly esconced in Hawkwind, Robert's only solo material until 1979 was his poetry book, "Centigrade
232" (Quasar, 1977) and his Jimi Hendrix play, "The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice",
which was first performed in 1976 and has been revived at various times since.
In 1979, having left Hawkwind for the last time (although he later made occasional guest appearances),
Calvert recorded a one-sided green vinyl flexi-disc single, "Cricket Star", as Robert Calvert's 1st XI,
which has since proved quite elusive.
A further literary excursion occured when New English Library published Calvert's novel, "Hype", in
1981, while A-Side issued his album of the same title, using the same cover artwork. Flicknife had
already, in 1980, released a single with different mixes of two of the tracks, "Lord Of The Hornets"
and "The Greenfly And The Rose". This was then reissued in 1981 with black sleeve print instead of
the original purple design. Incidentally, "Hype" was reissued by See For Miles in 1991 on vinyl and
CD, complete with a new cover and notes.
During the 80s, Robert Calvert performed many stage shows, plays and musicals. Material recorded at
one of his Krankschaft Cabaret shows appeared on an obscure and unusual album called "Ersatz" by
the Imperial Pompadours (Pompadour POMP 001, 1982). The brainchild of Barney Bubbles, the
record featured music by Inner City Unit and Robert Calvert's Krankschaft Cabaret, though all
remained officially anonymous. Difficult enough to find at the time, this is now extremely scarce.
Robert's own recording career got back into gear in 1985 with a short album called "Freq". Copies can
still be found, but Anagram (a division of Cherry Red) are scheduled to issue it on CD as "Freq
Revisited", with two extra tracks and sleeve-notes.
Calvert's last studio LP, "Test Tube Conceived", appeared on Demi-Monde in April 1986, and on CD
by the obviously-named CD label in 1987. The project led to a play of the same title, and Robert's
career seemed once again to be gaining momentum. On October 1st 1986 he played what he
considered to be the highlight of his solo career, a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. The
gig was recorded and intended for release on his cassette label, Harbour.
Robert's Harbour Publications began in 1986 with his second book of poems, "The Earth Ritual". The
label then concentrated on cassettes, starting with 1987's "Centigrade 232", a reading from his book.
Next came some of his demos on two volumes of "The Cellar Tapes". The following year promised
two further tapes, one of him reading "The Earth Ritual" book and a tape called "Live At The Queen
Elizabeth Hall". These two were certainly advertised, but tragedy struck when Robert died at his home
in Kent on August 14th. As a result, it seems unlikely that copies of either tape were ever distributed.
However, "Live At The Queen Elizabeth Hall" surfaced posthumously on Clear Records. An
impressive, mail-order-only package, including the album in a gatefold sleeve, a poster, a badge and a
T-shirt, this limited edition is now almost impossible to find. Shortly before he died, Robert recorded
an LP with Amon DÃ¼Ã¼l, which subsequently appeared as "Die LÃ¶sung", (Demi-Monde DM 1015)
credited to 'Amon DÃ¼Ã¼l with special guest Robert Calvert'.
Interest in Robert's career still continues. Not only is the "Freq Revisited" CD planned, but Cyborg has
released a cassette EP titled "Revenge", consisting of four previously unissued songs. At the time of
writing, Beat Goes On are still planning to release their fourth Robert Calvert CD, the rare Clear album
"At The Queen Elizabeth Hall", later this year.
As for possible future projects, many unreleased demo recordings exist, as do live tapes of Robert with
various support acts like Krankschaft Cabaret, the Starfighters, Maximum Effect and others. Because
interest in his career is still strong, I'm sure that plenty more recordings will eventually see the light of
Last and most definitely least...
|Hawkwind Solo - Michael Moorcock
Brian Tawn examines the writer's work on record
Michael Moorcock's early interest in music encouraged him to spend his youth during the Sixties
haunting Soho and listening to London's soul/R&B club favourites like Zoot Money and Georgie
Fame. He learned to play guitar and at one point considered a musical career. Instead, he chose to
write for his living, though music has remained an abiding passion.
Living in West London, Moorcock became immersed in science fiction, music and the underground
movement, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would cross paths with Hawkwind. The union came
when, around 1970, Hawkwind were playing a free Saturday afternoon gig under the Westway (the
raised section of the A40 by Ladbroke Grove). Mike turned up with a couple of poems and was
invited to perform them with the band.
One of these was "Sonic Attack", destined to
become a Hawkwind classic, which
appeared on a number of albums and on the
almost extinct "Sonic Attack" promo single
from 1973. Mike has since performed
"Sonic Attack" with Hawkwind on stage
many times, and has always hoped that a
version with his vocals would make it onto
vinyl. As yet, this has not happened, though
he did rcord a studio version with the band in
Many of Hawkwind's songs and albums have
been Moorcock-inspired, and Mike has often
been closely involved with the band. During
the "Space Ritual" era, he regularly stepped in
for Robert Calvert when Robert was not
available, but it wasn't until 1975's "Warrior
On The Edge Of Time" album that Mike
entered the studios with the band. This LP
featured three Moorcock poems (two spoken
by Mike) and one of his songs, "Kings of
Speed", which was chosen as a single.
Also issued in 1975 were Robert Calvert's "Lucky Leif and the Longships" album - on which Mike
played banjo - and Moorcock's own album "New World's Fair", which came with a printed inner
sleeve and an eye-catching outer cover by Hawkwind artist Barney Bubbles. Prior to the album,
Mike recorded the "Dodgem Dude"/"Starcruiser" single, which was ignored by United Artists at the
time. Flicknife finally issued it in 1980 with a picture sleeve, while the A-side also appeared on
Hawkwind & Co.'s "Your Last Chance" EP in 1983.
In 1978, Mike decided that his next Jerry Cornelius novel, "The Entropy Tango", which was to
contain some lyrics, should be sold with an album of songs, which he duly recorded with Pete Pavli
(ex-High Tide) as a demo tape. In fact, the project fell though, but the book was later published by
New English Library, albeit without the LP. The only vinyl airing of the material came when
extracts from the demos appeared on the "Hawkfan 12" fan club album. The title song was also
performed by Moorcock, Pavli and Adrian Shaw at Nik Turner's Bohemian Love-In at the
Roundhouse in June 1978.
Very basic demos were also made of the songs relating to Moorcock's book "Gloriana", but the
project was never completed.
In 1979, Blue Oyster Cult's "Mirrors" album (CBS 86087) made use of the writer's song "The Great
Sun Jester". Then in 1980, their "Cultosaurus Erectus" LP (CBD 86120) featured his "Black Blade",
while 1981's "Fire Of Unknown Origin" (CBS 85137) carried "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars",
which was also used in the film "Heavy Metal", and appeared on the soundtrack (Epic EPC 88558,
1981). Blue Oyster Cult also included "Black Blade" and "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars" on their
"Extraterrestrial Live" double-album (CBS 22203, 1982). Anyone wishing to collect these Blue
Oyster Cult sets should watch out for the poster which came with initial copies of "Cultosaurus
An EP of songs to accompany his book, "The Brothel In Rosenstrasse", was to have been released
by Flicknife but this was abandoned. Instead, Cyborg issued a cassette EP of it in 1992, a decade
after Flicknife released the "Brothel In Rosenstrasse"/"Time Centre" single, using a heavy vinyl disc
and limiting the issue to 500 numbered copies in a picture sleeve, with a lyric sheet signed by Mike.
"Good Girl, Bad Girl", together with "Time Centre" (which is also on the "Best of Hawkwind Friends
& Relations" CD) appeared on "Hawkwind Friends & Relations". Another guest appearance occured
in 1980, when A-Side released Robert Calvert's "Hype" album (reissued by See For Miles in 1989),
with Moorcock playing 12-string guitar.
Michael continued to make occasional guest appearances on stage with Hawkwind, and in 1981, the
first studio version of "Sonic Attack" appeared on the band's album of the same name, along with
"Coded Languages", performed by Mike.
The following year, Hawkwind recorded Moorcock's "Choose Your Masques" and "Arrival In
Utopia" on their "Choose Your Masques" LP, while 1983 saw Michael performing his "Running
Through The Back Brain" on the "Zones" album, also issued as a picture disc.
Hawkwind recorded the "Chronicle Of The Black Sword: album in 1985, based on Mike's "Elric of
MelnibonÃ©" books. When the group performed the stage show, Mike guested at two or three
gigs, reciting four Elric poems to fit in with the story. Three of these appear on the "Chronicle Of
The Black Sword" video. Meanwhile, GWR issued a double-album of the bulk of the show
(excluding Mike's poems) in 1986 (issued on CD and cassette, with new notes, by Castle in 1992).
During the ensuing promotional tour, Mike guested at London's Hammersmith Odeon for the encore
and performed "Warrior At The End of Time" and "Coded Languages", both of which turned up as
bonus tracks on the "Out & Intake" CD, where the incorrect title "Warrior On The Edge Of Time",
Since then, music has taken a back seat while Michael Moorcock concentrates on his novels,
However, when Guest of Honour at the Atlanta Fantasy Convention, Mike took to the stage with
several friends, and I'm sure we'll see him do it again.
Those wishing to explore Michael Moorcock's writings further should refer to "Book & Magazine
Collector" magazine issue 29 for an interview and issue 59 for a full bibliography of his fantasy