|Album Sleeve Notes, Part 3
30 years on since they took their first trip
together as Group X - a spontaneous,
acid-fuelled outburst at the All Saints Hall, in
London's Ladbroke Grove, in August 1969- the
name Hawkwind has become synonymous with
another, now bygone age. A distant dimension
where drugs were 'consciousness-expanding'
and love was 'free'. Where the search for
'space' began by looking within and the concept
of 'time' could be elongated or cut into ribbons,
at will-In this case, London in the early 1970s.
During the time of the great hippy-apocalypse.
"We were totally conceived around that hippy
ideal of free expression," says Nik Turner, one
of the original members. "It wasn't about being
technically superior as musicians, or wanting to
be the next Beatles and make loads of money. It was about getting up and having a blast, basically
and trying to blow people's minds - our own included."
Well, they certainly did that. Formed around the hazy aspirations of a 28-year-old busker from
Middlesex called Dave Brock, the earliest line-up of what eventually became Hawkwind comprised of
Brock on 12-string steel guitar, harmonica and vocals, Nik Turner, an old stoner pal of Brock's from
his days in Holland, where they had both lived briefly, on saxophone, flute and vocals, and a bunch of
"friends and left-overs" from his previous band, Doctor Brock's Famous Cure:
Mick Slattery on lead guitar, John Harrison on bass guitar, Terry OIlis on drums, and Dik Mik on
'audio generator' - a home-made device which issued the sonic swoops and strangled seagull cries
which would become a trademark of the early Hawkwind sound.
";Up until then, everything I'd done had been mainly acoustic," says Brock now, the only original
member to have survived every incarnation of Hawkwind, up to the present day. "But this whole new
scene was exploding then - bands like Hendrix, Cream, the Floyd and Arthur Brown. And I started to
think about trying to do something electric- I was starting to take LSD and I wanted the music to
somehow reflect what that was like, too."
Two years after the Beatles had made public the arrival of LSD into pop music with the 'Sergeant
Pepper' album, this was hardly a radical idea. Dylan may have begun the ball rolling with his 'surreal'
lyrics to 'Blonde On Blonde', but soon there was Hendrix, Haight Ashbury, Flower Power, Easy Rider,
the West Coast Sound, the Filmore East, the Grateful Dead...a great wave of lysergically-charged
optimism that reached its giddy peak in 1969, the year Brock and the others first began playing
But if 1969 had begun as the year of Woodstock, it ended as the year of Altamont - the ill-fated
end-of-decade festival in California organised by the Rolling Stones, which went disastrously wrong
when a black youth was stabbed to death by Hell's Angels in front of the stage - and the age of
optimism was now drawing rapidly to a close.
Arriving as they did halfway between the two events, history has tended to look back on Hawkwind
as the runt of the psychedelic litter. But, in truth, Hawkwind represented much more than just an acid
flashback to the Sixties. The drugs may have remained the same but the times they had-a-changed
and Hawkwind was, in retrospect, a quintessentially Seventies proposition. They cared and they didn't
At first they couldn't think of a name for what they did so they called themselves Group X. Then Nik
Turner laughingly suggested Hawkwind Zoo, based on an in-joke about flatulence, and that made them
laugh so they used that instead. Then, when their first record company, United Artists, suggested
shortening it merely to Hawkwind, that was OK, too.
As Turner observes: "We didn't care what they called us. It just didn't matter. Even though we'd done
an album, none of us really considered what we were doing as a career. Dave was still out busking
most days and I was driving a van. There was no 'image', that I could see. We were just doing what
we were doing."
Produced by Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor and recorded as-live in the studio with the band
essentially running through their live set, as you can hear from tracks like 'Hurry On Sundown' (the
1969 demo which is included here) and 'Paranoia (Part 2)', this earliest incarnation found Hawkwind
at its simplest and most playful. As Brock explains: "We listed them on the sleeve all as separate
songs, but really, it was just one long piece, like we did on stage."
Unlike original acid showmen like Hendrix, or even non-virtuosos like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind neither
relied on 'songs' nor their ability to master their instruments to create an ambience. Intoxicating and
free-form, the "vibe" was everything.
"I don't think any of us were particularly good musicians, but that wasn't really the point," says
Turner, who had first been encouraged to play by "a bunch of Eric Dolphy freaks" he had met in
Berlin in 1967. Spontaneity was the key. "We had a few basic chords and simple ideas we'd written
that we could always return to," says Brock, "but in between that we would Just let things take off..."
Spontaneity and LSD. Acid, says Turner, "was the great facilitator." It wasn't a drug, it was "a
sacrament." "I wouldn't say we were tripping all the time," smiles Brock, "but it's hard to remember
times, especially in those early days, when we weren't. Even in the studio. Pushing buttons just to see
what would happen..."
The result was a spate of albums that would define forever a genre of rock music that was not just
psychedelic in nature, but incontrovertibly underground. With albums like 'In Search Of Space'
(1971) and 'Doremi Fasol Latido' (1972), Hawkwind's music charted the eclipse of psychedelia's
Sixties ideals in favour of ever deeper and more dark explorations of the prevailing Seventies
nightmare. If sometimes it sounded like they weren't making sense, then neither did the bombing of
Vietnam nor the scandal of Watergate, and against a surface backdrop in which little was ever
apparently what it seemed, tracks like 'Master Of The Universe' and 'Brainstorm' seemed perfectly apt
expositions of the times. Haphazardly recorded; largely improvised. As Brock says, "determined to
break every rule in the book."
The addition of key new members, both musical and otherwise, had seen to that, and by 1973 and
their soon-to-be legendary 'Space Ritual' tour, a Hawkwind performance had become a full-on
multimedia experience. Crucial to this development had been the arrival of new and ever-more
outrageous characters into the band, and by the time Hawkwind enjoyed their one and only major hit
single, 'Silver Machine' (No.2 in the UK charts in the summer of '72), the names Robert Calvert,
Lemmy, Stacia, Liquid Len, Barney Bubbles and Michael Moorcock had all become part of Hawkwind
folklore. If their next single, 'Urban Guerrilla', released in July 73, hadn't been banned by the BBC
-recent IRA bombings of London making them flinch from lines like: 'I'm an UrbanGuerrilla / I make
bombs in the cellar'- those names might have become even more famous. But then, as Turner says:
"Being famous was never what Hawkwind was about. We didn't even have what you'd call a proper
frontman until Bob Calvert came along. And that was only by accident..."
A South African-born poet who suffered all his life from episodes of manic depression - and who
Turner had met back in his days "selling joss sticks on Margate beach" - Robert Calvert was the
troubled genius who helped conceptualise Hawkwind; his first contributions being to pen both the
self-mythologising 'Hawkwind Log' included with 'In Search Of Space', and the lyrics to 'Silver
For the extrovert Calvert, "the vibe" was not nearly enough and, with the invention of several onstage
characters, he helped turn Hawkwind's rambling musical "happenings" into fully-fledged theatrical
performances, as evinced on the sprawling, solid stone Calvert-classic, 'Orgone Accumulator' from
the live 'Space Ritual' album.
Of course, most of what Calvert and Hawkwind were up to in those days had to be seen to be
believed. What he wanted, he told Melody Maker, was for Hawkwind to be "a kind of meeting
between intellectual thought and Marvel Comics."
"There would be Bob Calvert standing on one side of the stage dressed in World War I aviator
goggles, riding boots and a flying helmet, and Nik Turner on the other side dressed as a frog," recalls
Simon House, who joined the band in time for their 'Hall Of The Mountain Grill' album in 1974.
"Visually, we looked like no-one else in the world."
They were aided in this task by former Frendz designer Barney Bubbles and onstage lighting man
Liquid Len (real name: Jonathan Smeeton), both of whom had "just gravitated towards the band" in the
days when they used to perform for free on the Portobello Road, in London's Ladbroke Grove, where
most of the band and their ever-growing entourage of friends lived. Working together, the latter's
"intergalactic" stage shows were designed with the former's hydroponically-charged album-sleeves in
mind; combining sci-fi images with Eastern religious symbols, Weimar eagles, zodiac signs and
anything else they could cram onto their acid-enflamed can-vas, all underpinned onstage by relentless
strobes, eerie back-projections and, not least, the demi-clad, capriciously exotic figure of the wildly
dancing Miss Stacia.
"Stacia just turned up at a gig in Exeter in 1971," Dave Brock recalls. "She said, 'Can I get up and
dance when you play?' and we all said yes, of course. Then when she got up and started taking all
her clothes off, we just sort of accepted it. It was the times," he smiles, "everybody used to take their
clothes off in those days..."
"We always encouraged anybody who was there that had something they wanted to do to get up and
do it," says Turner. "Whether that was dancing in the case of Stacia - who was a beautiful dancer and
used to get into these outrageous costumes and make-up and really put a lot into her performances -
or whether it was just getting up and reading a bit of poetry, it was all part of the trip, to me."
Another early beneficiary of this revolving cast of characters was the noted science-fiction and
fantasy author, Michael Moorcock; another habitue of the early Seventies Ladbroke Grove scene who
began attending Hawkwind's shows, reading his poetry while the band improvised around him.
Brock, a fan of Moorcock's novels, encouraged the author to contribute lyrics like the ones he
provided for 'Sonic Attack'. Creator of such Hawkwind-friendly characters as Dorian Hawkmoon,
EIric of Melnibone, Jerry Cornelius and many others, Moorcock's involvement with the band would
be less intense but more lasting than almost anybody else's bar Brock himself.
One famous former face whose impact on the Hawkwind story far outweighed his relatively short
tenure in the band was bassist and vocalist Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister. Better known these days as the
granite-faced leader of Motorhead, the band he named after the track he contributed to 1975's
'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' sessions.
Lemmy brought a tension to the band, not just with his ferociously rumbling bass, which he played
"like a guitar", but with his personality and lifestyle. With his swastika neckchain, black leather jacket
and 24-hour sunglasses, Lemmy was the speed freak biker-from-hell who had wandered into the
hippy tent by mistake. Peace and love were never high on his list of priorities. Nor were mundane
tasks like rehearsals or going to sleep at night.
"He was, and still remains, one of the all-time great rock'n'roll characters," Brock chuckles. "But he
was a handful, to say the least."
The last straw came on tour in America in the summer of 75, when the errant bassist was busted on
the Canadian border for possession of cocaine. Fortunately for Lemmy, the 'coke' was actually
amphetamine sulphate, not yet illegal in Canada, and he escaped with just a fine. Too late, though, to
save his job in Hawkwind, who had already flown in former Pink Fairies bassist, Paul Rudolph, to
As Lemmy says now, "I can't really complain because if I hadn't been fired from Hawkwind, I would
never have got Motorhead together. But it did hurt, yeah..."
But people came and went in Hawkwind at such a rate that one rarely noticed their passing, and
although Lemmy's abrupt departure caused more ripples than most, the next two Hawkwind albums,
'Astounding Sounds Amazing Music' (1976) and 'Quark, Strangeness And Charm' (1977) were
amongst the most focused and together-sounding of the band's career.
Tracks like 'Kerb Crawler', the frenetic single from 'Astounding Sounds...', found the band stripped of
much of their former hippy wizardry, with Calvert's sneering vocals and the guitars to the fore. While
'Steppenwolf' became another memorable addition to Calvert's gallery of manic stage personalities,
stalking the stage in top hat and frock-coat and brandishing a walking stick, a leash dangling from his
'Quark...' was even more stripped down. Gone was both Nik Turner and his madcap sax as Calvert
and Brock led the band through some of the most stark and, yes, sometimes raving mad music they
would ever make together. As the title track - a rare Top 20 entry when issued as a single - and the
equally compelling 'Hassan-i-Sahba' and 'Spirit Of The Age' confirm, Hawkwind would never sound
this dark or frantic. Then, with the album hovering in the charts and a rare TV appearance on the
Marc Bolan Show behind them, just as things were looking up, in true Hawkwind style, the band
began to cave-in. Calvert's mental health finally deteriorated so badly the band actually fled him, while
on tour in France. Then, at the start of 1978, Simon House accepted an invitation to join David
Bowie's band for a year-long world tour.
The band soldiered on through an already booked American tour but by the last show in San
Francisco, Dave Brock was so disenchanted he actually sold his guitar. "That was it, as far as I was
concerned," he says now with a faint smile. "It was all over."
Well, not quite. Within weeks of returning to England, Brock had formed the Hawklords. "Like
Hawkwind but different," the Hawklords was Brock and Calvert's gallant but failed attempt to sneak
their music past the new, hippy-hating punk audience. With the name change came another new
line-up in bassist Harvey Bainbridge and drummer Martin Griffin (both formerly of Ark), along with
keyboard player Steve Swindells. The Hawklords album '25 Years On' and single, 'Psi Power',
followed, and a lengthy British tour at the end of 78 had been well-received. But the change of name
had not convinced any-one that what they were listening to was not really Hawkwind-in-disguise and
disenchantment set in once more. Calvert left the band for the last time early in 1979, followed by
Swindells and Griffin, leaving just Brock and Bainbridge to soldier on.
In the lull, Charisma belatedly released the 'PXR 5' album and '25 Years' single. Suitably encouraged,
by the end of 1979 Brock and Bainbridge had returned with a new, totally revamped line-up of
Hawkwind, including former drummer Simon King and early guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton, along with
ex-Gong synthesiser wizard Tim Blake. They played their 'comeback' show at the world's first Sci-fi
Festival, 'Futurama', in Leeds, and the lengthy UK tour that followed proved enormously successful.
You only have to listen to 'Shot Down In The Night', the single recorded live on that tour to hear a
band bristling with renewed confidence. Confidence streaked with defiance. Qualities they would
require in some abundance to survive the onset of the Eighties, a decade that simply didn't understand
Hawkwind at all.
Whether they sensed it or not, they were in for a rough ride. Despite making some quality recordings
like 'Choose Your Masques' (the 1982 album that also marked the brief return of Nik Turner), and
even revisiting Mike Moorcock territory with 'The Chronicle Of The Black Sword' (1985),
commercially, Hawkwind's only foothold in the Eighties was the then burgeoning heavy metal market,
where they sat uncomfortably next to more uniform and up-to-date Eighties metallists like Iron Maiden.
"I've never thought of Hawkwind as a heavy metal band," says Brock. " think we just got lumped into
that bag in the Eighties because those were the sorts of bands we were booked onto tours and
festivals with. I suppose we shared some of the same audience."
The Nineties, however, has begun to see a reappraisal of Hawkwind's place in the scheme of things.
In a decade where the 'alternative' has long since replaced the 'mainstream', Hawkwind have become
that most sought after item of the new post-modern age - the real thing. Whether one knows their
music or not, the time they came from and the ideas they represented can be detected across the
spectrum of contemporary pop music. From the latest generation of 'stoner' rock bands like Monster
Magnet, Queens Of The Stone Age and the now defunct Kyuss, who make no secret of the influence
Hawkwind has played on them, to e-generation 'dance' acts like Orbital, Prodigy, or the Chemical
Brothers, who may not be so familiar with the name but whose premise - that electronic music can
become a conduit to other 'altered' states - is exactly the same as the original Hawkwind's.
By the same token, the Hawkwind of the Nineties - still fronted by Dave Brock and still as intent, as he
says, on "making magic out of thin air" - has also embraced the 'new age' of technology. As you can
see from latter-day Hawkwind tracks like 'Right To Decide' from 1992's 'Electric Tepee', or 'Love In
Space' from the 1997 'Distant Horizons' collection, they may be ardent time travellers but Hawkwind
are not marooned in the past, Dave Brock's guitar-synthesiser long since having replaced Dik Mik's
antique audio generator.
Which brings the story full-circle to the 1999 remix of 'Silver Machine', which concludes this
collection. The work of Scourge Of The Earth AKA KLF's Jimmy Cauty, the new, revamped 'Silver
Machine' brings Hawkwind bang up-to-date with the Prodigy-generation. "My son, who is now 18, is
in a techno outfit," says Simon House. "And he loves the new version, so I take that as a good sign..."
And if it's signs you're looking for - good, bad, or, as with everything they ever did, an unpredictable
yet marvellously compelling mixture of the two - then the music of Hawkwind is a better place than
most to start.
"Earthed to the Ground" was Dave Brock's first
solo LP, a rather surprising fact considering that
he had been a recording artist with Hawkwind &
The Hawklords for over fifteen years. The
album, catalogue number SHARP018, was
released on 27th April 1984 and it featured 9
songs: Earthed to the Ground / Assassination /
Green Finned Demon / Spirits-Sweet Obsession /
Oscillations / Machine Dream / Now Is The
Winter Of Our Discontent / On The Case. It
came in a full colour picture sleeve designed by
John Coulthart. Although it did not enter the top
100, it reached number 21 in the Indie Charts and
received very good reviews. Dave recorded it in
his own studio using mainly synths and
keyboards and therefore the final product did not
sound like Hawkwind at all.
Many fans expected a "Hawkwind" album and were surprised by what they heard, to the satisfaction of
Dave I suspect!
All the songs were written by Dave and none of them, with the exception of "Green Finned Demon" had
been released before. "Green Finned Demon" was on the B-Side of "Night Of The Hawks" (FLEP 104)
released six weeks earlier by Hawkwind.
It is a shame that Dave was not able, at the time, to do any live gigs to promote the album as it is still
the best way to reach the fans, a fact proved later with the release of "The Agents Of Chaos" LP.
"The Agents Of Chaos" album was Dave Brock's second LP to be commercially released. All the songs
were written by Dave and Crum, a firend of Dave's who had been writing with him for a few years.
The record came out on the 4th of April 1988 and the catalogue number was SHARP 042 (SHARP 042
C for the cassette). The 11 tracks were: Hi-tec Cities / A Day / In The Office / Hades Deep / Words Of
A Song - Heads / Nocturne / Wastelands Of Sleep / Empty Dreams / Into the Realms / Mountain In The
Sky. The artwork was by Nick Wing. It went into the metal charts (do not ask why) at number 3 and
in the Indie Charts at number 20, a much better performnce than his first album due to the fact that the
band played some live dates throughout the UK. Although the Brock/Crum partnership wrote all the
songs for this album, the idea behind The Agents Of Chaos is that many different people will be
involved in live and studio work. For his first gigs, Dave used Tubilah Dog, along with Crum, as The
Agents Of Chaos. The first date was on November 14th 1988 at the Kaleidoscope in Birmingham. On
November 16th it was very surprising to see the Electric Ballroom nearly full for the first London date.
This CD is a compilation of both albums. We felt that the songs were strong enough for a CD and 2
albums at the normal CD price is a good offer. We hope to do many more of these "double" CD's. So
keep in touch!