This article is from the July 9th 1993 issue of "Goldmine", a U.S. record collector's weekly. It must
be one of the longest single articles I've ever seen on Hawkwind and provides a potted history of the
band with an emphasis on the collectability of specific albums, singles etc..
Mentioning the name Hawkwind to the average music fan usually elicits one of two or three standard
responses: "Never heard of them!" is quite common if the person is under 30. "Aren't they Lemmy's old
band?" tends to be the favorite retort if they are wearing a black T-shirt with some kind of mutilated skull
on it. Occasionally, the respondent gazes off into space wrestling to remember 20 years ago, and then
says, "I think I saw Genesis open for them once. Weren't they kind of like Pink Floyd?" Less frequently
you might hear, "Ginger Baker was their drummer, wasn't he?"
The truth is that Hawkwind is one of the U.K.'s best kept musical secrets. Not many other bands can lay
claim to so many accolades on one side of the Atlantic with barely a glimmer of recognition on the other.
Hawkwind has been an actively recording and touring band since 1969. They were Lemmy's old band, in
fact "Motorhead" was a Hawkwind song before it was his post-Hawkwind band. The legendary Ginger
Baker did drum for them, albeit only for one album. Genesis did open for them several times back in the
early '70s, and when Hawkwind released their debut album they sounded more like Syd Barrett's Pink
Floyd than the Floyd themselves did.
What is less commonly known is that founding member Dave Brock used to be buddies with Eric Clapton
back when no one knew who he was either (today you can still hear one of Brock's earliest recordings,
with the Dharma Blues Band, on a commonly recognised album called White Boy Blues Volume II, which
most Clapton collectors own).
Here are some other little known facts about Hawkwind: They have had incestuous musical relationships
with German psychedelic rock pioneers Amon Duul and French equivalents Gong, with both of whom
they occasionally swapped musicians. They have also had a series of ongoing collaborations with
world-famous Hugo award-winning science fiction author Michael Moorcock, who infrequently performs
live shows with the band and has contributed everything from the odd poem to complete concepts for
some of their albums. Their first huge hit single, "Silver Machine," scored chart success around the
world, reaching #2 in the U.K., and saw respectable sales in at least a dozen other countries.
Hawkwind has released at least 20 studio albums, almost all of which have seen chart action in the U.K.,
and because of a lack of control over their own back catalog have been the victims of the nearly 100
compilations and live albums. Other luminaries who have crossed the band's path include Brian Eno,
Arthur Brown (as in the Crazy World Of...), Viv Stanshall (of the Bonzo Dog Band and Tubular Bells),
Jim Capaldi (of Traffic) and Dave Gilmour of the Floyd, who is credited with mixing one of the band's
early singles. There have even been two science fiction novels based on the band, written by Michael
Butterworth. The first volume, The Time Of The Hawklords, was available in North America through
Warner Books. Although the books are generally regarded as being pretty horrible, it is amusing to
visualize Lemmy as a post-apocalyptic guitar-wielding crusader.
All of this indicates that there is more to Hawkwind than is being noticed. Any band which can sell out
almost every gig that it plays, after more than 20 years, deserves a good look.
Founding members Dave Brock and Mick Slattery had created a band in 1967 called the Famous Cure.
They recorded a single, "Sweet Mary," for release in Holland. In July of that year at a concert in Holland,
Brock met up with Nik Turner of Mobile Freakout and started a friendship which would take them into
the 1980s. Prior to this meeting Brock had spent a few years as a London busker, and he was recruited in
January 1969 by Don Partridge to play in his show The Buskers at the Royal Albert Hall. At the time
Partridge, another busker, had recently come off two Top 5 singles in England.
After Brock's success with the Buskers, he formed Group X with Slattery, Turner, bass guitarist John
Harrison, drummer Terry Ollis and electronics wiz Dikmik. In late 1969 they changed the name to
Hawkwind and performed their debut performance [as just "Hawkwind", presumably] on January 28,
1970 at the All Saints Hall in London's Notting Hill, supporting Atomic Rooster. Hawkwind was almost
immediately offered a management contract and was soon to be recruited by Liberty Records. Shortly
after being signed, Mick Slattery left the band, to be replaced by Huw Lloyd-Langton on lead guitar.
In those early days critics were prone to compare Hawkwind to Pink Floyd. There were some
atmospheric similarities between the first album and Floyd's first, but Hawkwind has long since gone on
to defy description and has left behind any correlation to the Floyd. While the Floyd has taken white blues
to its squeaky clean limit, Hawkwind has continued to explore the intangible boundaries of psychedelia.
Their first album was produced by the Pretty Things bassist Dick Taylor and featured seven Dave Brock
compositions, a sign of things to come as Brock was destined to become the band's main focus in the
years ahead. Their first record company. Liberty Records, was purchased soon after the band's debut
album, by United Artists. At the time United Artists was a label well-respected by the U.K. fans, signing a
wealth of alternative talent such as Amon Duul, Man, If and Cochise, as well as more conventional acts
such as Eric Burdon and War and Canned Heat.
Almost as soon as the first album hit the record stores, there was another major personnel change: Huw
Lloyd-Langton quit (only to return nine years later) as did bassist John Harrison, who was replaced by
Amon Duul's Dave Anderson. This was the beginning of an ongoing trend of band members leaving and
rejoining over the next 20 years.
Hawkwind started out as more of a commune than a rigid structure, but the comings and goings of band
members has never seemed to diminish Brock's enthusiasm. Reflecting this ardour, Hawkwind's fans are
unquestionably some of the most dedicated in the popular music arena, a fact which often leads people to
draw comparisons to the Grateful Dead. The similarity of Brock and the Dead's Jerry Garcia as guiding
lights, the birth of both bands out of the alternative culture of the '60s, and the intense passion and zeal
displayed by their fans are the only true parallels.
In 1971, after a string of successful and critically acclaimed shows, a brilliant South African poet by the
name of Robert Calvert joined the Hawkwind crew. His love of science fiction and space opera were
integrated into the band's already cosmic stage and album presentations. After Calvert catalysed the
revolutionary second album In Search Of Space, the band seemed to hit on a common purpose. Brock,
Turner and Calvert were all aficionados of sci-fi; with Brock writing the music and Calvert writing the
lyrics, the myth of the spaceship Hawkwind was born. Other bands had recorded concept pieces, but
Hawkwind was and still is the only band to take a concept with a scope as wide as the entire science
fiction canvas and paint a 20-year-long-epic. Roger Zelazny, Ray Bradbury, John Campbell, Isaac Asimov,
Harry Harrison, Herman Hesse, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kurt Vonnegut, Arthur C. Clarke, and Michael Moorcock
can all be found in the Hawkwind lyrical repertoire.
The most notable early success with this concept was the Space Ritual tour in 1973, an extraordinary
piece of rock theatre, with one of the most spectacular light shows ever exhibited by a rock band. It was
financed by the commercial success of their most notorious single, "Silver Machine" (UP 35381). British
and American fans were completely engaged by the spectacle of the Space Ritual with its outrageous
lighting effects, stage sets and dancers, and they still refer to it today with an enduring reverence.
In 1972 the rhythm section had been replaced with the drummer and bass player from Opal Butterfly. The
bassist Ian Kilmister, a.k.a. Lemmy, was a redoubtable presence. His hard-pounding funk, as evidenced
on the live Space Ritual double album, lifted Hawkwind to new heights, and his influence is still evident
today in the band's heavier-handed compositions. He can be clearly heard on the band's third studio album,
Doremi Fasol Latido, and perhaps more significantly on the "Silver Machine" single, which was originally
a live recording with a barely audible Calvert vocal track. After a serious cosmetic makeover, Calvert's
vocal was erased and replaced by Lemmy's.
By this time Calvert's reading of poems between songs had become one of the band's many identifying
trademarks. Unfortunately, Calvert's notorious bouts of erratic behavior ultimately drove him out of the
band. One of the more interesting incidents involved him having to be disarmed of a broadsword with
which he was challenging all-comers in the lobby of a London hotel; another was when Brock was
roughed up and almost thrown into a French prison when Calvert apparently notified the authorities that
Brock was a member of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist group. When Calvert left in 1974, Brock and Turner
asked world-famous science fiction author Michael Moorcock to make the occasional guest appearance.
Moorcock's series of Eternal Champion books was to provide a rich mine of material for much of
Hawkwind's music. Calvert had been a fan of Moorcock's for some time and had used some of
Moorcock's material on stage, and so when Calvert had one of his infamous neurotic attacks. Moorcock
agreed to fill in for him temporarily.
There have been over 40 musicians to pass through Hawkwind in the last 24 years, and trying to
determine exactly when the band's line-up went through a significant change is extremely difficult. Despite
this, there have only been a few distinctive phases in the band's career and these are most clearly marked
by their time spent with each record label.
Under the auspices of the UA banner, Hawkwind released five studio albums, one live double and two
compilations. Hawkwind, In Search Of Space, Doremi Fasol Latido, The Space Ritual, Hall Of The
Mountain Grill and Warrior On The Edge Of Time are the solid foundation of any Hawkwind collection.
All of these titles were released in the United States by Liberty/UA except Warrior, which was on Atco.
Motorhead fans should note that Lemmy is featured on the last four titles only.
Ironically, more than half of these titles were released on CD in North
America before they were released in the U.K. The first album came
out on CD in 1992 from the independent One Way Records in
Albany, New York, working in conjunction with EMI's special
projects division. One Way also gave the world the first CD pressings
of Doremi and Space Ritual, both of which sound quite excellent. A
Japanese CD pressing of Doremi includes "Silver Machine," but it's
mastered from vinyl and is full of clicks and pops.
The two UA compilations, Roadhawks and Masters Of The Universe,
were nothing particularly special, except that the former included the
missing encore from Space Ritual and a poster. Masters Of The
Universe was released on CD in the UK by EMI but Roadhawks has
yet to see a digital release. Promotional rarities from the UA era are
the most sought-after by the fans, although there are also some
interesting artifacts which made it into the stores. The first single,
"Hurry On Sundown" (LBF 15382), was never released in the U.S. In
the U.K. it is still a rare item, commanding close to a $150 price tag.
The first album, with its original gatefold cover, is also a highly
prized item, as is the original massive six-way gatefold of Space
Ritual with its deluxe dust sleeves. Space Ritual was later reissued in
the U.S. with a simple gatefold cover.
Two of the rarest promotional items from this era came from
America: a double gatefold 7-inch EP set which included the first two singles, "Hurry On Sundown" and
"Silver Machine," along with "Master Of The Universe" and "Orgone Accumulator" (UA 45012). One nice
added feature is the U.S. tour dates printed on the inside of the cover.
Another similar item was an EP (UA SP109), featuring four tracks from Hall Of The Mountain Grill,
although this did not come in a deluxe sleeve. Another extremely rare item from this era is the promotional
one-sided single from the U.K. of Sonic Attack, which came in a canvas bag (UA WD3637). There are
also at least a dozen different pressings of Silver Machine from around the world, most with their own
unique picture sleeve. Another mystery is that "Seven By Seven," the B-side of this most famous
Hawkwind record, came with at least three different mixes, depending on which country it came from.
The next single, "Urban Guerrilla / Brainbox Pollution" (UP 35566), was withdrawn promptly after its
release in the U.K. because it coincided with a spate of IRA bombings and was deemed to be too sensitive.
It did, however, see full release in, among others, France, Germany, Italy and Portugal, all with deluxe
sleeves, and Mexico.
Another nice rarity from this era was a unique single from Germany which backed "Lord Of Light" with
"Bom To Go" (UA 35492). The B-side was an edited version of a live performance which originally
appeared on a U.K. charity benefit compilation, Greasy Truckers (UDX 203/204). This single came with
two different pictures sleeves, one with the typo "Lord Of Lihgt." Both are equally difficult to find.
The Greasy Truckers double album is considered essential listening by most Hawkfans. It includes one of
the few excellent live recordings of the band from early 1972. Shortly after its release a triple album,
Glastonbury Fayre (REV 1/2/3), was released by an independent outfit called Revelation Records. It
featured two more Hawkwind tracks from the same concert, one of which was the undoctored "Silver
Machine," as well as unreleased music by the Grateful Dead, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Pete Townshend,
Gong, the Pink Fairies and more. Both Greasy Truckers and Glastonbury Fayre are extremely difficult to
find and are inordinately expensive. Glastonbury Fayre was recently released as a double bootleg CD by an
Italian outfit called Buccaneer Records.
1974 saw the release of "Psychedelic Warlords" / "lt's So Easy" (UP 35715), while in France and Germany
"You'd Better Believe It" / "Paradox" (UP 35689) was released in two different picture sleeves. Both of
these were to promote the band's fourth studio album, Hall Of The Mountain Grill. The band's line-up had
changed again when they acquired a new keyboard and violin player from the band High Tide, named
Simon House. His introduction of Mellotron strings sweeping in and out of the background pushed the
band onto a higher musical plateau while simultaneously making Del Dettmar (the man who concocted all
manner of strange noises from a rack of electronic gear) redundant. Dettmar had been initially recruited in
1969 as a roadie. He had officially joined the band in 1971 and after a brief tenure on stage complementing
Dikmik (who left in 1973) he moved back to the soundboard before finally quitting the band in early 1975.
Hawkwind's last single for United Artists was released in 1975 and featured a different mix of the album
track "Kings Of Speed" backed with a new song by Lemmy called "Motorhead" (UP 35808). This same
single was released in the U.S. by Atco (45 7017) and was added to the U.S. pressing of Warrior On The
Edge Of Time instead of the full album version. The 1993 Griffin Music CD of Warrior was mastered
directly from the Atco master reels and so perpetuated the inclusion of the single mix.
Also included as a bonus track on both the U.K. and US CDs was the previously difficult-to-find
performance of "Motorhead." This version was the one featuring Lemmy's original vocal track and should
not be confused with a rough demo with Brock's vocals, which appeared on many unauthorized
compilations from around the world. Lemmy's metal anthem about amphetamine consumption was his last
composition for Hawkwind. He was arrested at the U.S. / Canadian border in 1975 on his way to a
concert in Toronto and mistakenly charged with possession of cocaine, an error which ultimately cost him
his job with Hawkwind. He went on to form his own band, named after the song, and performed as
support act for Hawkwind many times before reaching international superstardom. He still frequently
appears with Hawkwind when they perform in London, usually to sing "Silver Machine."
In 1975 the band moved into its second phase when it shifted to Charisma Records. In the summer of that
year Robert Calvert had come back for a surprise appearance when Hawkwind headlined the first night at
the Reading Festival (Yes, Supertramp and Judas Priest were also present, which shows just how big
Hawkwind had become). Calvert, a thoroughly Bohemian eccentric, moved front and centre and took over
the vocal chores and ultimately was to take over the bulk of the lyric writing for the next three years. His
most important performance up to that time was on the Space Ritual double in 1973 but his full-time
services triggered one of the band's more significant metamorphoses when he took to recreating on stage
the various personae portrayed in his songs.
While his theatrics lent an arresting visual aspect to the shows, his lyrics dug into everything from Herman
Hesse's Steppenwolf, to Kubrick's 2001, to Asimov's Robot books, all written and performed with the
appropriate satirical touch. The four Charisma albums (only two of which were released domestically [i.e.
in the USA]) all contain landmarks in the Brock / Calvert relationship. Each album is considered a classic
by the fans, although the band reportedly has mixed feelings about them. They are: Astounding
Sounds-Amazing Music, Quark Strangeness & Charm, Hawklords 25 Years On and PXR 5. These titles,
along with a very good compilation of material called Spirit Of The Age, currently reside with Virgin
Records in the U.K. and are only available as import CDs in North America.
There were a series of singles from the Charisma years, almost none of which were released in the U.S.
The first, "Kerb Crawler" / "Honky Dorky" (CB 289), is the one reputed to have been mixed by Pink
Floyd's Dave Gilmour, although there are two different labels on the U.K. pressing, one which credits him
and one which doesn't. The second U.K. single, "Back On The Streets" / "The Dream Of Isis" (CB 299),
came in a superb picture sleeve which showed the band's amazing Atomhenge stage set in all of its glory.
Hawkwind had always had a reputation for an amazing light show, which they attributed to a certain group
of individuals known as Liquid Len and the Lensmen. Len himself was none other than Jonathan Smeeton,
who left the Hawkwind camp in the 1970s and went on to do the staging for, among others, Genesis and
Peter Gabriel. After honing his craft with Hawkwind, he has now become one of the industry's most
sought-after staging experts and his name can be seen in the credits at the end of many large-scale rock
With the release of the band's seventh album, Quark Strangeness & Charm, came the surprise
announcement that Nik Turner had been sacked. At that time Turner was seen as one of the band's key
elements by the fans, and so his unexplained dismissal came as something of a shock. What seems to have
happened was something of an attempted coup by two of the band's least important members. Alan Powell
(ex-Vinegar Joe) and Paul Rudolph (ex-Pink Fairies) had been drafted into the band in 1974 and 1975,
respectively. Simon King had broken his ribs and so Powell was employed to replace him. When King
recovered, Powell was kept on and so Hawkwind had two drummers for a couple of years.
Rudolph was initially brought in to replace Lemmy. After the release of Astounding Sounds, Rudolph and
Powell had tried to move Hawkwind into a more commercial and funkier direction, which, to quote
Calvert, "horrified us." They had delivered an ultimatum to the band on the eve of recording Back On The
Streets that Turner had to go. Rather than completely upset the apple cart, Brock and Calvert acquiesced
and Turner was dropped. Shortly after, Brock and Calvert came to their senses and sacked Rudolph and
The title track of the seventh album was released as the next single. "Quark Strangeness And Charm" /
"The Forge Of Vulcan" (CB 305) was released in Germany with a picture sleeve with "The Iron Dream"
(6073-399) as the B-side.
While the band was still enjoying a large measure of success with Charisma, United Artists woke up and
began a spate of reissues. "Silver Machine" was backed with "Urban Guerrilla" in Germany (UA 36347
AT) and in Holland (BR45249). The two German singles "Silver Machine" / "Seven By Seven" and "Lord
Of Light" / "Born To Go" were also packaged up together in a double gatefold picture sleeve (UA 35805)
and are highly sought-after in this format.
Back in the Charisma camp, "Hassan-i-Sahba" / "'Fable Of A Failed Race"(6837426) came out in France,
And "Hassan-i-Sahba" / "Damnation Alley Pt. 2" in Italy (9124-024), both with picture sleeves. The next
U.K. release "Psi Power" / "Death Trap" (CB 323) came in 1978 and was from the newly renamed
Hawklords. This single was also released in the U.S. (CAS 701) with a picture sleeve. The B-side showed
Hawkwind keeping pace with the newly spawned punk revolution, whose main perpetrators (the Sex
Pistols, etc.) were content to acknowledge Hawkwind as a major source of inspiration even though
Hawkwind seemed to represent the exact antithesis of punk's sometime glorification of violence. The last
single for Charisma was "25 Years" / "(Only) The Dead Dreams Of The Cold War Kid" (CB 332).
In 1977, Brock and Calvert had changed their name to the Sonic Assassins and, subsequently to the
Hawklords, recruiting a group of new musicians, most notably Harvey Bainbridge on bass guitar.
Bainbridge remained in the band for 14 years, and next to Brock was the longest-standing member.
Although the Hawklords' album was critically well-received, Calvert once more left Brock. (Fate played a
hand in this departure being his last. When he was arranging to come back on board in the summer of
1988 for the 20th anniversary tour he died of a heart attack. aged 43.)
After concluding a truly catastrophic tour of the U.S. in 1978, with Brock actually selling his guitar to a
punter as he left the stage in San Francisco, the band split with each other and their record label.
Not content to stay home for long, Brock soon revived the band with
a new line-up which featured some old members, Harvey Bainbridge,
Simon King and Huw Lloyd-Langton, along with Tim Blake of Gong.
Langton had spent some of the '70s with his band Widowmaker,
which also featured Mott The Hoople guitarist Ariel Bender.
In 1979, the new Hawkwind signed a deal with Bronze Records and
recorded an excellent live album during their very successful tour
that winter, titled, appropriately, Live Seventy Nine. A single from
the album. "Shot Down In The Night" / "Urban Guerrilla" (BRO 98),
came with an attractive picture sleeve and was also released in
In early 1980 Simon King quit permanently after an erratic eight
years. The band recruited ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker into the
fold, and recorded one of its best albums, Levitation, along with its
accompanying single, "Who's Gonna Win The War" / "Nuclear Toy"
(BRO 109). This was the only appearance to date of "Nuclear Toy."
Neither of the Bronze albums was released in North America,
although both were released in Japan. The liaison with Baker didn't
last long, and conflicts of a personal nature once more led to a
change of line-up, management and label. It was reported that Baker
wanted to fire Bainbridge and bring in his old Cream buddy Jack
Bruce. When he was voted down, he quit and promptly filled the band's tour dates in Italy as Ginger
Baker's Hawkwind with an entirely new band!
In 1981 the real Hawkwind moved to RCA Records and began recording at Rockfield Studios in
Monmouth, England. Having left the disruptive Baker behind, with Huw Lloyd-Langton back on the
writing team, they seemed to have a solid basis for a good future. Never straying too far from the
space-rock concept, Hawkwind's RCA offerings were not as successful as they might have been if they
had been released internationally. However, Brock didn't lose his creative edge and even when the new
drummer, Martin Griffin, was stricken down with measles at a critical lime during recording, the core of
Brock, Bainbridge and Langton turned in a fine and very underrated album. The Church Of Hawkwind. It
had originally been intended as a Brock solo album and some of the tracks did later appear in slightly
different forms on his Earthed To The Ground (Flicknife SHARP 018). Church was packaged in an
extremely attractive metallized cover complete with a color booklet. It is considered a real prize by
Hawkwind collectors and is now very difficult to find. In 1993, Brock took the master tapes back into his
Devon studio and reworked the record for CD release.
The other two RCA albums were Sonic Attack and Choose Your Masques. Two singles were released.
"Angels Of Death" / "Transdimensional Man" (RCA 137) from Sonic Attack and "Silver Machine" / "Silver
Machine (full version)" / "Psychedelic Warlords" (RCA 267) from Choose Your Masques; both came in
picture sleeves and the latter was also available as a picture disc. Both "Silver Machine" and "Psychedelic
Warlords" were brand new studio recordings with significantly different arrangements.
All of the RCA titles were difficult to find on vinyl and have yet to be released anywhere on CD. A
compilation of material from these was later released by RCA, called Angels Of Death, but it too is
virtually impossible to find. None of the RCA recordings were released in any format in the U.S. As the
band had given up touring the U.S. in 1978, it had slipped into virtual obscurity on this side of the Atlantic.
Slipping and sliding from one record deal to the next only compounded the problem, and so when they left
RCA in 1983, the band's North American presence became almost non-existent.
Prior to their departure from RCA the band had already started a strange and sometimes shaky relationship
with a small independent in the U.K. called Flicknife Records. A couple of compilations of outtakes and
live cuts had been dropped out onto a confused public. Friends & Relations was a three-volume set, and
Independent Days, volumes 1 and 2, were a 10-inch and a regular album, respectively. Two singles,
"Motorhead" / "Valium Ten" (FLS 205) and "Who's Gonna Win The War" / "Time Of" (FLS 209), were
both released during this period and featured picture sleeves. This version of "Motorhead" is the
aforementioned one with Brock's vocals which has been included in at least a dozen compilation albums.
"Friends & Relations" was later released as two different CDs, both called The Best Of Friends &
Relations (Anagram GRAM 61 and Flicknife SHARP 1724), but featuring different track selections.
Although the RCA and Bronze albums were never officially released in North America, the distribution on
import was fairly substantial, but the signing with Flicknife marked the beginning of a lean period for the
band's North American fans. During the years 1984-86 they sunk into complete obscurity. However, the
British audiences were stronger than ever. Selling out large outdoor festivals and multi-city tours had
become commonplace in the U.K. and Europe. Even with this mass acceptance at home, Brock never let
the early influences and vision slip. The hand continued to make appearances whenever it could at free
festivals and charily benefits, something which has earned them a begrudging respect from the notoriously
cynical British music press.
1983 saw the release of Zones, a strange mixture of new material taken from a variety of live and studio
sources. It was followed shortly after by a 12-inch EP called Night Of The Hawks. This was recorded
originally at the request of Flicknife records, which wanted to see if it could get Lemmy and Brock back
together in the studio. It was to have been the preface to another large concept called The Earth Ritual.
Although there was never an album by that title, there was a tour. The tour turned into something of a
reunion with a whole host of ex-Hawklords rejoining the band. Lemmy, Nik Turner, Dikmik, Bob Calvert,
Simon King and Mike Moorcock all showed up at irregular intervals. In 1992, when asked if there were
any good tapes of those shows. Brock replied that there weren't and that the shows were fun hut not that
good. Another Flicknife single, "Motorway City" / "Master Of The Universe" (FLS 025), and an EP with a
Moorcock track and a Calvert track, "Hurry On Sundown" / "Dodgem Dude" / "Lord Of The Hornets"
(FLS 214), rounded off that year.
At the famous Stonehenge free festival in 1984 the band recruited a young bass guitarist, Alan Davey, to
take over from Bainbridge, who was concentrating more on keyboards. Legend has it that Davey sent a
demo tape of himself playing Hawkwind riffs to Brock, and in true Hawkwind fashion Brock invited him
to join the band. Davey would provide another stabilizing force in the years ahead. Not wanting to leave
the public waiting for long, the band promptly released Stonehenge - This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic, a
live double recorded at the same festival. It came with two different covers, a gatefold and a single pocket
with a poster.
Nik Turner had apparently decided to stay on for a while and the video of the show is more like watching
a Nik Turner concert, as he dominates the proceedings in much the way Calvert had in years gone by. His
reappearance would not last long. Rumor has it that he was to have been involved with the next album and
may have been instrumental in bringing Moorcock back on hoard, but as his anarchic approach seemed to
be at odds with the more complex 1980s Hawkwind sound, and as some personal frictions began to
simmer, he quit again and went back to his solo career.
Moving on, the band followed up in 1985 with a compelling and crucial concept piece titled The Chronicle
Of The Black Sword. Chronicle was another turning point. It was a tightly focused album entirely based
on Moorcock's legendary fictional character Elric of Melnibone. Two singles were taken from the album,
"Needle Gun" / "Arioch" (FLS 032) and "Zarozinia" / "Assault & Battery" (FLS 033). Both of the unreleased
B-sides turned up later as bonus tracks on the CD release.
At the tail end of 1985 a fateful decision was taken, under less than ideal circumstances, to give the rights
to some tapes of outtakes and live tracks to an independent outfit which called itself Samurai Records. The
tapes, approximately 140 minutes, first saw the light of day in November 1985 as three single LPs called
Anthology Volumes 1-3. That 140 minutes of music may have done incalculable damage to the band's
reputation, not because it was bad music, hut reportedly because of an incredibly slippery contract. Since
the initial release, the same tapes (or parts of them) have been reissued no less than six times on LP and 10
times on CD. This unbelievable exploitation confused and disappointed the fans, who were not aware that
the band had completely lost control of the tapes and were receiving little or no compensation for the
multiple releases. So far parts of those same tapes have shown up on Anthology, The Hawkwind
Collection, The Approved History Of Hawkwind, Acid Daze Volumes 1-3, Acid Daze (boxed set), Best Of
And The Rest Of Hawkwind Live, British Tribal Music, The Castle Masters Collection, In The Beginning,
Masters Of The Universe, Spirit Of The Age, Friends And Relations, Live 70-73, Welcome to The Future,
Ironstrike, Nightriding, etc., etc. There have also been several singles and 12inch EPs of the same material.
If you purchase a copy of the Acid Daze set you would acquire most of the material from the albums listed
above; the balance can be found in the Bronze and Flicknife catalogs. Most experienced Hawkwind
collectors are tired of the endless re-releases and can usually spot these tapes from a mile off when they
are reissued every few months. There have also been other inferior albums that have been exploited to
death, which come from a variety of different sources. Bring Me The Head Of Yuri Gagarin is an atrocious
live recording which has been released at least three times. Early Daze is another which falls into that
The original tapes for these are in the hands of one of the band's ex-bass players and he seems content to
continue releasing these sub-standard recordings. Text Of Festival is another piece which has seen multiple
reissues and is another bad bootleg quality live recording. One good alternative piece which surfaced
initially in 1985 is called Space Ritual Volume 2. It has since been re-released as least twice on CD in its
entirety, as well as half of it under the title Ridicule. This tape is from the unedited recordings made for the
original Space Ritual album and is quite worthwhile.
The band toured the U.K. in 1986 with an impressive stage show which lived up to the reputation of the
Space Ritual, and Moorcock himself appeared on the closing night in London, to read some poetry. For the
first time in over a decade the band managed to capture a truly solid live performance on tape. Live
Chronicles was released on GWR Records in late 1986 and is one of the best albums the band has ever
released. A badly lit video release of the show does little to add to the overall power of this piece. Profile
Records issued it in the United States in 1987, as did Maze Records in Canada. The last single the band
released through Flicknife came in the fall of 1986, "Hurry On Sundown" / "Motorhead" (FLS 034).
Originally it was rumored that Live Chronicles was to have been released through Flicknife. This may have
led to some conflict within the band, but the consequence was that four tracks -"Assault And Battery,"
"Sleep Of A Thousand Tears," "Coded Languages" and "Warrior On The Edge Of Time"- ended up with
For the rest of 1987, the band seemed to be bouncing between Flicknife and GWR, when it released Out &
Intake. An unusual combination of studio and live cuts, it became one of the harder pieces to find on CD
until it became the first of the Flicknife albums to be released domestically on Griffin Music in 1992. Both
the Flicknife and the Griffin CDs featured two bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere.
1988 saw the release of an all-new studio album, The Xenon Codex. Engima Records released the CD here
in the U.S. as a picture disc. Completing two albums for GWR, Lloyd-Langton quit the band again to
pursue a solo career. Although his contributions should not be underestimated, the band continued on as
strongly as ever with performances that were aggressive and controlled.
One significant change was the hiring of a new drummer to replace Danny Thompson, who had been with
the band since 1984. Over the years at least six full-time drummers had come and gone, a seemingly
ludicrous figure by most bands' standards but when you consider the time frame of over 20 years the
number seems less disproportionate.
To an observer who has watched the band from the beginning, each drummer has made relevant
contributions. The current percussionist, Richard Chadwick, has been with the band since 1988 and his
abilities more than fill the shoes of his predecessors. In 1990 another dramatic change in the band's sound
came when it used a female vocalist for the first time. Bridgett Wishart, who had been with a band called
the Hippy Slags and had done some dancing with the band, was given the opportunity to add a whole new
dimension to the band's sound when it recorded the album Space Bandits. The opening track, "Images,"
was a cornplete and total surprise to the band's long-time fans, with Wishart's vocals being more
reminiscent of Blondie than Hawkwind.
Just prior to the release of Space Bandits, United Artists suddenly came back into the picture with an
excellent compilation called Stasis. Available as a gatefold LP or as a CD with extra tracks, it managed to
resurrect several of the early UA singles and oddities. Brian Tawn, erstwhile guardian of the band's fan
club, had a lot to do with the intelligent choice of material, something he did again in 1992 for Virgin when
it released a revised version of their Spirit Of The Age compilation, called Tales From Atomhenge, which
included the two rare B-sides from the Charisma years, "Honky Dorky" and "The Dream Of Isis."
The band returned to tour North America in the fall of 1989 and performed a string of 13 concerts
coast-to-coast. Amazingly the shows were not only well-received but well-attended by an assortment of
Motorhead fans, graying hippies, middle-aged yuppies and young punters wondering who these guys were
with the amazing light show. Space Bandits garnered the band some great reviews in the U.S. media and
consolidated their "new" sound for the '90s. Two more tours of the U.S. and Canada and an extraordinary
live album, Palace Springs (with sound and performances so seamless it sounded like a studio album), put
the band firmly back in the public eye.
In late 1991 Windsong Records in the U.K. released the band's first BBC In Concert appearance from
1972. At about the same time a bootleg of the same show, called Space Rock From London, came out in
Europe. The really odd thing is that the two are entirely different mixes. The Windsong pressing has a
more complete version of "Brainstorm" but it seems to be a mono mix. The bootleg has more of the
opening track "Countdown" and is crystal clear stereo. It has been argued that the show was only taped in
mono, but the bootleg is very definitely genuine stereo and is not just electronically created. It seems
unlikely that the BBC would have taped the band in mono. The year before, 1971, the famous In Concert
performances of Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd were recorded in stereo and have since been re-broadcast
uncountable times by the Westwood One radio network here in the U.S. If nothing else this confirms that
the BBC was well equipped for stereo a year before Hawkwind's performance.
April 1992 brought another BBC recording from the Friday Rock Show Sessions. Recorded live at the
Reading Festival in 1986 it is a worthwhile addition to any Hawkwind collection. The following month the
much anticipated new studio album turned out to be a double LP in a glorious full-color gatefold jacket.
Electric Tepee served to entrench Hawkwind back into their rightful place in the vanguard of "experimental
rock" and was a real triumph for the band, which had seen their ranks reduced to three; Brock, Davey and
Chadwick. It was the first album that the band recorded entirely at Brock's Devon studio and it benefited
immensely from the lack of hindrance from scheduling and budgeting.
During the last two years, Hawkwind has enjoyed something of a renaissance in North America. Several
compact discs have been released by a group of independent outfits, which bear mentioning because they
are almost all worthwhile material. One Way Records of Albany, New York has managed to be the first in
the world to give us the bulk of the United Artists material on CD, although Cleopatra in Los Angeles also
has released a good compilation of UA stuff titled Psychedelic Warlords. Griffin Music of Chicago was the
first to release the long-anticipated Hawklords Live tape with its memories of Calvert's last days with the
band. Iloki Records of California issued California Brainstorm, which is a sort of "Palace Spring Part Two."
The future promises much more in the way of domestic Hawkwind releases. By the time you read this the
domestic CD of Warrior On The Edge Of Time will have been released by Griffin in Chicago as a boxed
set with a 176-page illustrated discography. Electric Tepee and Live Chronicles are slated to follow soon
Never letting the grass grow over them, the band recently shot off on another tangent when it participated
in a charity album for the homeless, on which it performed its first real cover song, the Rolling Stones'
"Gimme Shelter" (EMI 805762). But the final shocker came when Hawkwind announced that British pop
diva Samantha Fox would handle the vocals! Living up to their reputation of being predictably
unpredictable, they claimed the classic Stones tune and turned it into a Hawkwind tune by turning the
clock back 20 years. It is unquestionably the nearest thing to something from In Search Of Space they
have ever done, complete with its "You Shouldn't Do That" backbeat and gritty harmonica solo. Once
more, when given a golden opportunity to record an instantly recognizable commercial song, Hawkwind
ignored the obvious course of action and instead elected to turn in the most immediate and alternative
In nearly a quarter of a century Hawkwind has never succumbed to trends or marketing forces. They have
dogmatically ignored the easy commercial route and have produced a wealth of "astounding sounds and
amazing music," most of which is still waiting to be discovered by the American public. Although the list
of Hawkwind alumni is not exactly a "Who's Who" of rock'n'roll it is very definitely a group of extremely
diverse and talented individuals. Bob Calvert went on to pen a novel for the New English Library and a
successful play in the West End of London, as well as several well-received solo albums. Nik Turner, who
has passed in and out of the band, has flown his own erratic solo course, making recordings inside the
great pyramids of Egypt, and at last check is out scaling the Himalayas. Mike Moorcock has become
recognized as one of England's greatest contemporary novelists and has been called "one of the most
important people writing in the English language today" by GQ magazine and a "literary giant" by the
Lemmy is now unquestionably one of the most imitated and popular people in the world of heavy metal.
Jon Smeeton has taken his talents for incredible lighting effects and created the outrageous extravaganzas
now seen at Genesis concerts. Simon House went on to play violin for David Bowie before returning
sporadically to Hawkwind. Almost every other member of the band has had his own solo releases, a list of
which could take up another article like this one. Through it all Dave Brock has held the Hawkwind
Few bands have lasted as long or inspired so many others on the U.K. rock scene as Hawkwind. A year
almost never goes by without some new chart-topping act citing them as a strong influence, and yet their
legacy is still being written.