An oft-played game on the Yahoo! and BOC-L/Hawkwind email lists is "what was your favourite Hawkwind
line-up" or "what would be your ideal Hawkwind line-up". (The former of these is a line-up that really
existed and the latter is a Fantasy Football type of proposition.) So, to turn the thing on its' head, this page
looks at the all-time worst Hawkwind line-up imaginable. It's not intended to be one that actually existed, just
the worst possible combination that could be assembled...
The usual procedure is to name names on the basis of their prowess with a specified instrument, so the same
principle obtains here - although it's 'lack of prowess'. As a starting point, our imaginary Hawkwind from
Hell needs to have certain instruments filled - drums, bass, vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar and keyboards.
Anything after that is really the icing on the cake. As with some other pages on the site, this is entirely
subjective and I'm open to alternative suggestions - email me here if you don't agree!
The bedrock of any band...and the choice is enormous given that Hawkwind have had 13 different drummers
if you include bongo player Al Matthews. The others whose hats are hereby thrown into the ring are: Andy
Anderson, Ginger Baker, Richard Chadwick, Clive Deamer, Martin Griffin, Rob Heaton, Simon King, Mick
Kirton, Rick Martinez, Terry Ollis, Alan Powell, and Danny Thompson.
Some people can be ruled out straight away and I'd put Simon King's name at the top of that list, as he was,
to quote Bob Calvert, "the real Hawkwind drum machine". And some others shouldn't be included for further
consideration on account of the brevity of their time with the band. Goodbye Andy, Rick, Mick, Rob and
Clive. You may have all been truly horrible drummers (I don't know) but you didn't get long enough to prove
it in Hawkwind if so. To make it into the Lamest Line-Up you have to have been around long enough to
provide incontrovertible proof of your shortcomings - which leaves us with a possible choice of Al
Matthews, Ginger Baker, Richard Chadwick, Martin Griffin, Terry Ollis, Alan Powell, or Danny Thompson.
Now, Al Matthews has to be kicked out too, as he was properly speaking a percussionist rather than a
drummer. Having a bongo player as Hawkwind's only drummer would in fact be a wretched state of affairs,
which gives the idea enormous appeal - but it's cheating. So Al is out. And Richard Chadwick is certainly
not everyone's idea of the man with the sticks, but you can't claim he's incompetent...this is more a matter of
taste, and while I find his drumming a little too "light" to be ideal for Hawkwind, plenty of latter-day fans
would heartily disagree. So Richard, you're gone too.
Martin Griffin has also had his detractors, as being 'metronomic': but his stint in the band in the Hawklords
and RCA periods was when the band's style of music was oriented in this direction, and Martin proved at the
Hawkfest 2002 that he's actually very fluid. Besides, that moustache surely makes Mr. Griffin too good to
be in the lamest line-up, so he's out of the running.
Terry Ollis is said to have had his problems in the band, which resulted in his departure in fine style: taking
his clothes off on stage, playing slower and slower, and finally falling off his drum stool at the same moment
that a fan went mad and leapt on stage screaming. This is magnificent, and by itself rules Terry out of the
lamest line-up. But he was and is a great drummer too (even better clothed)...
We are left with Ginger Baker, Alan Powell and Danny Thompson. Now I have an irrational dislike of Alan
Powell, because he always looks such a berk in photos and I can't tell you what he actually did in Hawkwind
apart from played second fiddle to Simon King. My understanding is that the demo version of 'Motorhead',
featuring Dave Brock's vocals, features Alan Powell exclusively on drums, and I hate to say it but I can't find
anything wrong with that. So Alan - you're out too, and we're left with a straight choice between Ginger and
Danny. Which is a tough call. Ginger is of course one of the great rock drummers, and completely did not
fit in with Hawkwind. He was also very very mean to Harvey Bainbridge, had red hair and a beard, and
owned a dog which used to bite people. These are all damning indictments, but you can't get past the fact
that Ginger Baker was / is a fine drummer. Whereas Danny Thompson...oh dear...the man who put the
'chronic' into Live Chronicles and the 'cod' into Xenon Codex. A quick listen to either of those albums will
prove it - Danny's the man.
Not quite such an embarrassment of riches here. The roster consists of Dave Anderson, Harvey Bainbridge,
Thomas Crimble, Alan Davey, Mr.Dibs, John Harrison, Lemmy, Paul Rudolph, Adrian Shaw, Steve Taylor
and Ron Tree. The penultimate of these gents played with the band at Strange Daze 98, when Ron was
refused entry to the USA, and also on Hawkwind's New Zealand tour of 2000. That's not really long enough
to prove anything and so he can be ruled out at once.
The same really applied to John Harrison, although he did appear (pretty unremarkably) on the band's
eponymous first album. In an interview Dave Brock was quoted as saying "John liked golf, actually" which
is a point in his favour. I don't know whether this meant Mr. Harrison liked watching golf on TV or playing
it, and which is more naff anyway? If he played it, imagine him appearing in a Hawkwind from Hell line-up
dressed for the part, in plus fours and a flat cap. But sorry John, your stitch in the tapestry of Hawkwind is
too short and in too drab a tone to make you a contender. You're out.
Thomas Crimble managed not to appear on any of Hawkwind's recorded output, and so he must be
discarded. Mr.Dibs too, has only played bass for them live, and perhaps only on a single occasion and this
just isn't enough to merit his inclusion. Besides which I've said more than enough uncomplimentary things
about him already - and the same goes for Dave Anderson, who did something I consider definitive in
Hawkwind - the bassline to Master Of The Universe is his and does a lot to make the In Search Of Space
version the definitive one for my money. (And actually the Text Of Festival version is very very good too!)
So bye-bye Dibs and Dave A...
Lemmy...well, he's just too good, isn't he? And so is Alan Davey. Neither can possibly be considered for
this job. Adrian Shaw is another one, a bit like Ginger Baker, perhaps, who is a fantastic musician maybe not
entirely suited to Hawkwind - though I personally think what he did with the band was awesome. Adrian's
playing was so terrific you just can't have him in a lamest line-up. So we're reduced to an unholy trinity of
Harvey Bainbridge, Paul Rudolph and Ron Tree.
Ron seems to get a lot of stick for his bass playing and I can't see why. He certainly was no Lemmy, but I
can't see anything all that bad about his bass work either, and I caught the band live in 1997 when he was
doing the bass and singing to boot....Ron did OK. He has another shout at making the Lamest Line-Up for
his singing, so without further ado let's kick him out of the reckoning for bass player duties. Sorry Ron, but
the final two are Paul Rudolph and Harvey Bainbridge. Mr. Rudolph may have been a fine guitar player but
his major crime against humanity was trying to play funky basslines in Hawkwind - 'Time For Sale' and 'The
Aubergine That Ate Rangoon' being two examples that didn't work. But then again, 'Reefer Madness' did
work, and some of the live stuff from 1976 is excellent....so it has to be Harvey. For a start he played a
Fender Precision, which is the bluntest of instruments, ideal for producing a dull thud upon request. And on
his day, Harvey was spectacularly horrible as a bass player - the best example I can think of is on the 'Live
79' album, especially in the latter half of 'Brainstorm' where he's all over the place in terms of his timing. I
think Ginger Baker was right, which is an awful thing to have to admit, particularly when Harvey's such a
nice guy - but fortunately he came back and played some great keyboards for Hawkwind in the 80's, so I
hope he won't mind being elected Hawkwind's lamest bass player...
Right, first of all, let's get this straight: Dave Brock is not a contender. And in his absence, the list of
prospects is a very short one: Keith Barton, Steve Bemand (who filled in on a 1991 European tour); and Bob
Calvert (you'd forgotten about him, hadn't you?) It's very tempting to just go for Steve Bemand as a
righteous punishment for not being Dave Brock, but appearing on one tour isn't really enough, unless you
were one of those unfortunates who'd waited years to see Hawkwind play live and when you finally did,
there was no Dave Brock. In fact, if there's no Dave Brock, is it even Hawkwind? Either way, we're going
to let Steve off the hook.
Now, the case for the prosecution as far as Keef is concerned goes like this: he's not Dave Brock, he's got
short hair, he plays a Strat and he's in Spacehead, which would be a nice backhanded way of me getting at
Mr.Dibs by proxy as it were. Hmmmm. But Keith's a great guy who works his arse off for the band as part
of the road crew and lighting team. And we haven't heard enough from him to know how good or bad he is
- in fact I can't recall ever actually hearing him at all when I saw him perform with Hawkwind at the 2003
Hawkfest. So despite the Strat factor, Keef's not it either.
That means Bob Calvert wins (loses?) by default. The evidence is scant but compelling. First of all, there
was his performance on the Marc Bolan TV show on 16/9/77, when Dave Brock's car accidentally on
purpose broke down, and Bob had to go out there with a guitar, miming for all he was worth with a plastic
hawk strapped to his forearm. This is the stuff that dreams are not made of. And Bob did actually play
guitar live with the band. I read an interview with Dave Brock somewhere where he had to walk across the
stage to Bob during the gig and say "can you do something about your guitar, because it's horribly out of
tune." So there we are, a musician who mimes and still manages to play out of tune, surely the right person
to be Hawkwind's lamest rhythm guitarist...
Now, Dave Brock can definitely be considered in this category since I'm sure most people would accept he's
a rhythm guitarist, and has done some fairly middling-to-horrible lead work. To take just one example, the
lead guitar in 'Black Elk Speaks' on the Space Bandits album is vile. But Dave is not alone! Others who can
jostle for the crown include Huw Lloyd Langton, Jerry Richards, Mick Slattery, Paul Rudolph, Dick Taylor,
and Dumpy Dunnell. I'm going to drop Dumpy, Mick Slattery and Dick Taylor without further ado, on the
by-now-well-worn-grounds-that-they-haven't-blotted-their-copybooks-at-sufficient-length. This is rather a
shame in Mick's case, as something just feels right about selecting him for the role - but he never played on
anything they recorded afaik, and didn't even manage to strum a note at the Hawkestra in 2000, I believe.
There was a rather engaging story about him attending some backstage shindig and being caught attempting
to make off with a bottle of Rioja and a half eaten ham under his coat, or something like that, but it's not
enough. Sorry Mick.
Now Huw is an interesting case, he has committed some appalling atrocities in recent years, but has also in
his time provided the best lead guitar Hawkwind have ever had. So remembering the good times and
forgetting the bad, Huw's out of the picture. And Paul Rudolph somehow ought to be in a lamest line-up, but
the idea of him being there for his lead guitar just won't fly. What he did on Chronoglide Skyway was a
thing of wondrous simplicity and beauty, bugger it. At first I thought he would be hanging by a thread, but
as I seasonally remarked in a Scottish accent to my wife, Rudolph's thread's no strained, dear.
So again by a process of elimination, it's Jerry Richards. I can't claim his playing to really be horrible enough
to qualify on those grounds alone, but everyone else has fallen by the wayside, and Jerry has a couple of
other strikes against him too. He's another Strat player, and as with some others, his playing style did not
suit Hawkwind at all IMHO. Phetamine Street, anyone? The main albums Jerry played on were In Your
Area and Distant Horizons, so in my book that clinches it...
Another broad field of contenders, here. They are Harvey Bainbridge, Arthur Brown, Dave Brock, Bob
Calvert, Richard Chadwick, Alan Davey, Mr.Dibs, Samantha Fox, Keith Hale, Lemmy, Huw Lloyd Langton,
Michael Moorcock, Tim Blake, Captain Rizz, Ron Tree, Nik Turner, and last and by all means least (maybe)
First of all, let's get rid of Arthur Brown, Brock, Calvert, and Davey because they can all really sing. Mr.
Dibs has only done the voiceover for Abducted as far as I know, and did that well, so he's out too. Lemmy
and Huw are not classic vocalists but both of them have certain numbers that they've made their own, so
they disqualify themselves thus. Sam Fox made a fairly miserable fist of singing at the Hawkestra, but it was
just one performance. Similarly, Richard Chadwick is currently knocking 'em dead in the aisles with his
excruciating vocals to Angela Android - but it's just one song. (We won't mention the entire Star Nation
albumâ€¦) Tim Blake's vocal tortures in Hawkwind, while truly desperate, have been limited to Lighthouse
and the occasional Spirit Of The Age. And the only thing Keith Hale sang was his Dangerous Visions song...
We're left with Michael Moorcock, Ron Tree, Captain Rizz, Nik Turner, and Bridget Wishart. Ron and Nik
have certainly dropped a few clangers, but both have done the biz at other times too, so they drop out despite
their eminent suitability for a worst line-up in some degree or other. Captain Rizz - is he a singer, exactly?
Hard to say what he does, I find the man incomprehensible. But the actual timbre of his voice is pretty good,
and it's probably a case of you have to be into what he does to really get it. So Rizz lives to fight another
day, or in another category. It's a toss up between Michael Moorcock and Bridget Wishart. Who can hand
on heart say either one is worse than the other? They're both equally abysmal, so in the spirit of a really lame
line-up, I nominate Moorcock and Wishart duetting on every number, a Space Rock version of Peters and
Lee. Is that not an awful thought?!
Plenty of people have tinkered with keyboards as a secondary instrument, but the interesting thing is that
Hawkwind have never had anybody poor playing this as their primary role in the band. What Del Dettmar,
DikMik, Simon House, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Swindells, Tim Blake, Keith Kniveton and Dead Fred have in
common is that they've all been really good at what they did. Various others have done it on an extremely
short-term basis or have guested on keyboards but none for long enough to have hoist themselves with their
own petard. So the solution is that there's no keyboard player in our Hawkwind from Hell line-up. No
keyboards, no synths, no swooshy noises. Still, some of the stranger vocal effects achieved by our
Moorcock & Wishart frontpersons (barking, snoring, wheezing, hissing, etc.) might make up for it.
For stage costumes, how about Nik Turner circa 1984â€¦with Ron Tree from the Alien 4 tour running him
very close, although that was more in the "cheesey props" department. Tony Crerar is definitely the choice
of worst dancer, for his amazing performances as Elric on the Chronicle Of The Black Sword set. Then
there's the whole area of performance art, where I see Captain Rizz and Bridget Wishart slugging it out.
What we need is something conceptual involving both of them. Harvey has questions to answer as regards
this inherently ludicrous activityâ€¦
There are some other instruments like sax and violin where there have been a couple of different
protagonists, but no-one has ever been bad enough to be in the lamest line-up. Once again our solution must
be to omit these instruments and hope that our other line-up members will generate a fearful enough
cacophony to obviate the need.
So here's the final line-up:
Drums: Danny Thompson
Bass: Harvey Bainbridge
Rhythm Guitar: Bob Calvert
Lead Guitar: Jerry Richards
Vocals: Michael Moorcock and Bridget Wishart
Costumes: Nik Turner
Props: Ron Tree
Dance: Tony Crerar
No Dave Brock, and so you could argue that this isn't Hawkwind. Maybe it isn't but I for one would be
willing to pay good money to avoid seeing this line-up play live :-)
Well, of course not everyone agrees with me. Here's some of the feedback I've had on all this.
Bernhard differs as follows:
Bass: Ron Tree
Vocals: Alan Davey
Keyboards: Dead Fred
Other instruments: Nik Turner
Worst member of all: Nik Turner
Worst HW years: 1982-1984
Worst tour: February 1983
(Well, I can't agree about Nik - he's done some great stuff in Hawkwind IMHO!)
And Dr. M reckons:
Lead Guitar: Huw Lloyd Langton
Bass: Alan Davey
Vocals: Bridget Wishart
(Alan Davey is an unusual choice of worst bass player but Dr. M mentions that it's the unvarying nature of
his dun-dra-dun-dra-dun-dra-dun chord changes that does the trick...)
Bass: It should be Ron. Harvey came up with the bass line for Free Fall, which should, IMHO. be enough to
keep him out, and, (I know it's credited to Dave Brock) but, did he not write the bass line for Who's Gonna
Win The War? (absolutely smashing)
I have to disagree with your lamest line-up proposal on two points:
1 - You just can't have a HW line-up without some kind of keyboards or audio generators. They are as
crucial to the band as is Dave Brock (aaah! did I say that?). So, on the basis of musical ability it'd have to
be Del or Dikmik...but it couldn't be them because they, to me, are essential to a 'classic' Hawkwind. Oh
hell, no keyboards then!
2 - Vocals...this just has to be Tim Blake. He did sing Lighthouse, and his vocal ability (having seen him solo
live several times) is just awful. I mean, really dreadful! But you can't knock his ability on keys!
Zak T tells me:
Just a word or two in support of Bridgett - I only saw the Bournemouth Academy midnight gig in 1990, but
I thought that was pretty damn good, and Bridgett was fine at it, gave a bit of life and variety to the band,
and brought some poetry back in. The fireeaters helped as well. I'm very fond of Space Bandits (Images
and Out of the Shadows anyway). So leave her alone! She's got some competition when you consider
some of the atrocities Nik Turner committed in the 1980s - and I give you the Night of the Hawks video as
Worst songwriter? Mr Davey's "Wings" puts him up there somewhere.
Dave Law weighs in with this controversial piece:
This was, I feel a good question that Steve set and I've been meaning to post a reply sooner but what with
Christmas and the new year, time has been a premium so hence it's taken till now to put finger to keyboard.
This particular question could be considered redundant as far as a lot of bands are concerned, I mean U2
and Led Zep both had consistent line ups throughout their careers (yes I know U2 are still going but I can't
see any of them leaving, can you!) and whilst these could be considered the exceptions that make the rule,
I'm sure that there aren't many bands out there that have had as many members as Hawkwind. That said,
the more I think about it - has the band ever really had a line-up as such? Even in those early days in the
70's with major record company backing and for a short time seemingly the world at their feet, members
were coming and going at an alarming rate with only Dave Brock remaining constant throughout these
changes. So on reflection I'd call them more of a collective than a bona fide band in the true sense of the
word, or at least, that is up until the early 90's when Brock had by this time been joined by bassist Alan
Davey and drummer Richard Chadwick and with the exception of Mr. Davey leaving for a period to pursue
his other band Bedouin, the three have seemingly formed a nucleus that has remained till this day. These
days it tends to be a case of "well, you know those three will turn up, it's just a matter of who else". You
may well be asking yourself by this point what this has to do with the "Lamest Line Up": simple, this is the
one I would I would go for!
So what are my reasons, well let's start with the positives; they are all fine musicians in their own right and
obviously work very well together. With the amount, or should I say lack of gigs that the band seem to
play these days I really don't think you can have a purely "collective" approach as it simply wouldn't work,
the lack of rehearsing would stand out a mile. Nowadays I'm led to believe that these three rehearse a set
and then "guests" are sent a tape so as they can improvise their relevant parts. So at the moment it's a case
of "so far so good", what's the problem I hear you cry. Well I'll start with 12 words - IT IS THE
BUSINESS OF THE FUTURE TO BE DANGEROUS + WHITE ZONE. Admittedly the second was
recorded as the Psychedelic Warriors, but let's be honest it's Hawkwind, albeit under a different nameâ€¦
and who recorded these "gems" - yes, the line up mentioned above (before people get too picky, we'll
assume that Dr. Technical, The Lysergic Duke and Lord Charles are nothing more than alter-egos). True,
they were also the guilty party that produced Electric Tepee, which in comparison to the other 2 is an
absolute masterpiece but all the same could have been edited down from its 70+ minutes to a far more
palatable 45 and at the same time been a far better album IMHO, and herein is where I believe that the
problem lies. Left to their own devices they seem to go off on too many different tangents and too often
stray too far from what they are, which is, regardless of the tag you wish to give them, in essence a
"bloody good rock band!" As a three-piece they've toyed with dance music as well as reggae, both of
which are perfectly valid forms of music when performed by people who know what they are doing. Turn
it on its head a minute and let's for a moment imagine Bob Marley covering "Brainstorm": true, the results
could be interesting, but let's be honest; he's not going to cut it with the urgency of Brock and co., is he?
I think what I am really trying to say is that what I now consider to be the nucleus of the band, namely
Brock, Davey and Chadwick, are fine in that role but really need outside influences to get the motors
running at full throttle. This three-piece also produced the live album "The Business Trip" which apart from
some of the production, or to be more precise the way the crowd noise gets mixed up and down, is
actually a pretty good product, however on the downside, for me at least, is the fact that an awful lot of it
was created using tapes and samplers - and whilst it was quite a feat for the three of them to produce such
a full sound you can give me real musicians any day of the week. I'd far sooner have Simon House
standing on stage playing for all he's worth than Dave or one of the others hitting whatever trigger is
required for a synthetic version to make itself heard.
At the end of the day it's all a matter of taste, not being a musician myself in any shape or form I'm afraid I
can't really comment on who's technically the best on any given instrument, I just know what I like and
what I don't like. One of the joys of being a Hawkwind fan is the generally unpredictable nature of the
band, these days it seems that line-ups can literally change from show to show and with that can come
radically different interpretations of the same song, which in turn makes for exciting listening and viewing;
that said, please steer clear of dance and reggae!
Nick R responds with:
I'd also like to disagree with the suggestion of Dave, Alan and Richard for lamest line-up. The idea is
complete nonesense, but then I actually like It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous, as well as
The Business Trip and most of Alien 4 (Beam Me Up? I don't think so). For me, "Space is Their
Palestine" is a corker, so it takes all sorts I suppose.
Here's the verdict according to The Count:
Vocals : Tim Blake (I know it was only one or two, but deary deary me...)
Lead guitar : Dave Brock (ooh! Controversial!)
Rhythm guitar : No-one was that bad
Sax : the machine that played it on the last tour. Soddin' karaoke
Keys : Keith Hale (too 'rock')
Bass : Ron Tree, by a country mile. Bad ain't the half of it
Drums : Mick Kirton, obviously, but otherwise... Richard Chadwick
Costume etc : Dave Brock (the skeleton suit)
Hornetlord weighs in with this:
Reading your Lamest Line-Ups page - great stuff! I believe there's an omission in drummers - John Clark -
was it his drumming on Night Of The Hawks whose performance was described as "wretched
tubthumping" in your own Epoch:Eclipse CD review? [Might be: I've never heard of him!]
My only changes to your line up would be:
Vocals: Tim Blake
Bass: Paul Rudolph (based on his live performances)
Lead Guitar: Lemmy (The Watcher and Lost Johnny)
Gaz from Wolverhampton says:
Hi...I have to disagree with you about the Zones album being the poorest (I quite liked it!). In my opinion it
has to be Hawkwind In Your Area.
I could live with the previous Distant Horizons album, there were one or two good tracks on there despite
the poor production, but when I heard In Your Area I was disappointed beyond belief. Opening with yet
another dodgy rendition of Brainstorm with poor vocals from Ron Tree who seemed to be struggling, it
quickly disintegrates from there. The title track is throwaway, then there are more songs we've heard a
dozen times before, and Captain Rizz puts the icing on the cake for me with Your Fantasy: the CD nearly
went out of the window at this point.
The rest really aren't worth mentioning accept for I Am The Reptoid which had potential. It seemed poorly
produced and rushed, full of album fillers, and was not played very often by me after acquisition. It was
this period in the band's history that I didn't enjoy much, when Alan Davey had left, and I would say it was
definitely the lamest line up ever. I remember going to see them at the Civic Hall, Wolverhampton in 1997
and it was a bad night. Apart from my girlfriend nearly collapsing half way through the set, the set list was
poor. Capt Rizz, sorry to say, has to be the worst Hawkwind singer of all time with his style of vocals and
his stage presence, and Ron Tree's bass and vocals were pretty awful too. He looked really bad at the time
and Jerry Richards' style of playing (distorted) was not very suited to Hawkwind, or awe-inspiring. I
thought at the time they can't get much worse than this. Thankfully things changed; certain members left
and Alan returned...
So my lamest line up would be:-
Danny Thompson - drums
Ron Tree - bass
Capt Rizz - vocals
Keith Hale - synthesizers (sounded horrible)
Jerry Richards - guitar
I could go on all night about it but I will end it there and would just like to say what a great site it is you run
and keep up the good work...thanks and regards...Gaz from Wolverhampton
Hawker adds this:
I was reading the lamest lineups and someone controversially said Dave Brock was the lamest lead guitarist.
[Er, that would have been me...*ducks*...] Technically speaking this might be true but his style and
method were all part of why Hawkwind sounded like they did - just imagine how terrible it would have
been with some heavy metal shredder. Even Huw Lloyd Langton wasn't always appropriate.