|Huw in Guitarist magazine, Feb '95
It's true - there aren't many guitarists whose playing talents would allow them to span the almost perverse
divide between seminal, subversive prog-rockers Hawkwind and 70s mums' favourite Leo Sayer, but Huw
Lloyd Langton has done this and a lot more. If you are a fan of powerful, soaring lead guitar, the enigmatic
guitarist's action packed style provides a consummate lesson in taste, melody and drama but strangely, his
skills have rarely received wide recognition compared to his contemporaries on the British hard rock scene.
A professional guitarist since leaving school, the young Huw got his big break in 1969 when he co-formed
Hawkwind with itinerant saxophonist Nik Turner and full-time busker Dave Brock. Hawkwind's legendary
anti-establishment stance was cemented from the very beginning and crystallised during the 1970 Isle Of
Wight Festival, where Hawkwind played a riotous and chaotic gig outside the festival gates as a protest
against people having to pay to get in. Rumour has it that none other than Jimi Hendrix dropped in to listen.
"I've only heard stories about this," Huw admits. "We were supposed to be playing in a tent but in the end
only Dave, myself and the bass player turned up. A bunch of Brazilian percussionists had turned up too and in
the end we just jammed all night long until it was light.
"Basically, I had been spiked with LSD and was in a pretty bad way, so getting up there and playing my heart
out was my idea of cleansing my soul of this horrible spike business, but such was life in those days. It was
afterwards I heard that Hendrix had poked his head round the door, sat down and watched. Another story
goes that somebody asked Hendrix to get up and jam but he had just played a really poor show and said , No,
I'd spoil it - but that's just hearsay."
Huw's bad experience at the Isle of Wight festival resulted in a serious illness which left the young guitarist
with a life-long aversion to drugs. Shortly afterwards he left Hawkwind, not to rejoin until 1979, but before
quitting the band, Huw admits that even then, the writing was definitely on the wall as far as Hawkwind's
dabbling with illegal substances and subsequently chequered fortunes were concerned.
"The early days of Hawkwind were beset by lots of silly instances," Huw confirms, "but more than that I
think the biggest problem was the constant changing of record companies. It's very hard to get the ball rolling
if you have to keep stopping and starting. It's a shame, but I think that to a large extent certain people in
Hawkwind haven't done themselves too many favours with the press over the years due to fall outs with
certain papers and things."
During the early 70s, Huw kept body and soul together playing with a diverse range of acts including a
Trinidadian band called Batti Mamselle.
"They were excellent! A good friend of mine, Lennox Langton, was the conga player. He's a tall Trinidadian
chap who worked with Brian Auger and various people over the years. I just turned up at his place one night
and he suggested that he might have a good gig for me. He rang up the bloke in charge and when the person
asked who the recommended guitarist was, Lennox said Huwey Langton. The guy asked if I was a relative
and Lennox said, Yeah it's my brother. The next day I got taken along to rehearsal and when Lennox entered
the room first I heard all these black guys going, Hey man, give me five. They all expected a mini Lennox and
when I walked in, all their jaws dropped!
"They were all excellent musicians and it was a pleasure to work with them; the vocalist Jimmy Chambers is
now doing well in a band called London Beat.
"Eventually I got offered a gig with Leo Sayer which was basically the first time I'd ever been paid in this
game. I totally admired the bloke. He could actually mimic any style of vocalising and what he really wanted
was to be the lead singer in a good rock band. But it was all really taken out of his hands by those above him
and he was manipulated into the cabaret thing which did him nothing but harm because at heart he was
basically a rocker."
Huw's period backing Leo Sayer coincided with the peak of the singer's career. The diversity of Sayer's
material placed Huw in the position of having to adapt to situations he had never before encountered, even
replicating the banjo part on Sayer's first big hit I Won't Let The Show Go On.
"I'd never played a banjo before but one was thrust into my hand. I tuned it like a four string guitar and, as a
result, I actually acquired a banjo for a while before somebody de-acquired it from me some time ago."
Nowadays, Huw is fully occupied with his own three piece rock band The Lloyd Langton Group, which
began over 10 years ago as a side project during Huw's second tenure with Hawkwind. Since going solo in
1990, his LLG have racked up hundreds of gigs in the UK, and on the continent where Huw enjoys a fervent
following from old Hawkwind freaks and young rock fans in equal measure. With a fifth solo album 'River
Run' hot off the presses (see review Jan 95) Huw is all set to tour Europe and the UK later this year. If you
want to experience great rock'n'roll as purveyed by a master guitarist, give yourself a treat and check him out.