|Album Sleeve Notes, Part 9
Hawkwind were the final act to appear at
the Greasy Truckers Party, and in truth
were the band most of the audience had
come to hear. Much has been written about
this legendary British group, much of it
inaccurate [...read on...] but all of it adding
to the Hawkwind myth. Formed in 1969 by
ex-busker Dave Brock in the Ladbroke
Grove area of London, Hawkwind originally
came together following a mind-blowing
performance at All Saints Hall in Notting Hill
where the band appeared as Group X. This
original line-up of Brock (guitar, lead
vocals), Nik Turner (saxophone, flute,
vocals), John Harrison (bass), Terry Ollis
(drums), Dik Mik (electronics and audio
generator) and Mick Slattery (lead guitar)
came to the attention of manager Dough
Smith who suggested a change of name.
After briefly flirting with Hawkwind Zoo, the
group settled on Hawkwind (also Turner's nickname due to his habit of clearing his throat and breaking
wind). Slattery soon departed to be replace by Huw Lloyd-Langton on lead guitar and it was this line-up
that record the band's self-titled first album in 1970. Produced by ex-Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor,
"Hawkwind" made an immediate impact which was further increased by the band performing numerous
free concerts for hippy causes up and down the UK. By the time of the band's second album "In Search
Of Space", Hawkwind had refined their extended cosmic rock jams and had tightened into a more
cohesive unit. John Harrison was replaced by ex-Amon Duul II member Dave Anderson and Huw
Lloyd-Langton departed the fold. "In Search Of Space" became the first Hawkwind album to chart, the
first of a long series of successful and influential recordings. By January 1972 Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister
had joined a s bass guitarist and Simon King had replaced Terry Ollis on drums. By February 13th 1972
Hawkwind's line-up had been expanded still further to include poet Robert Calvert, synthesizer player Del
Dettmar and dancer Stacia (whose penchant for removing all of her clothing whilst performing added to
hr band's notoriety). Hawkwind had already acquired the status of being underground champions and a
"people's" band thanks to their appearance at the Glastonbury Fayre on June 23rd 1971.
After many problems with electrical power, Hawkwind took to the stage with a stunning rendition of the
poem "Earth Calling" before launching into a frenzied version of "You Shouldn't Do That". Their set was
a cycle of songs and poems segued into one another, a precursor to the heights achieved on the Space
Ritual tour later that year. After renditions of "The Awakening", "Master Of The Universe" and
"Paranoia", Hawkwind debuted a new song "Silver Machine". Embryonic in form, the Roundhouse
performance featured was notably different to the version of the song eventually released a a single some
months later. By this time the Roundhouse recording had been transferred to another eight-tack tape, a
vocal overdub by Lemmy was recorded (replacing the chanting Robert Calvert vocal) and lyrics
rewritten, resulting in a top five hit for Hawkwind. The original live recording of "Silver Machine" later
resurfaced on the triple album set "Glastonbury Fayre" later in 1972.
The Roundhouse set was completed with an ear-shattering climax of "Welcome To The Future".
Continuous please for an encore from the audience were rewarded with stunning versions of "Born To
Go" and an instrumental that later served as the basis for the Hawkwind classic "Brainstorm" on their next
album, "Doremi Fasol Latido". With their acclaimed performance at the Greasy Truckers Party,
Hawkwind's success continued with the live double album "Space Ritual" peaking at number 9 in the UK
By 1974's "Hall Of The Mountain Grill" both Del Dettmar [...wrong!...] and Dik Mik had gone, replaced
by ex- High Tide and Third Ear Band member Simon House on violin and keyboards. 1975's "Warrior On
The Edge Of Time" was the final Hawkwind album for United Artists after which Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister
departed the band to form Motorhead. Replaced by ex-Pink Fairies member Paul Rudolph, the band
signed to Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label.
Hawkwind continued to enjoy commercial success throughout the seventies and well into the 1980's.
Line-ups continued to come and go with Dave Brock always firmly at the helm of spaceship Hawkwind.
The band continued to enjoy a fanatical following to this day, something that few bands can claim.
White Zone - Psychedelic Warriors
The advent of the Acid House and Rave scenes of
the late 1980s and early 1990s had a similar effect
on popular music as the birth of Punk Rock in
1976 and 1977. Many established acts were
quickly regarded by the British music press as
passÃ© and dated in their approach. Of their many
achievements, Hawkwind found themselves cited
as an influence by the protagonists of this new
musical movement, just as they had been when
Punk burst forth a decade earlier. By the early
1990s Hawkwind shared concert bills with the DJ
outfit Salt Tank as support and the trance group
Astralasia had remixed the Hawkwind classics â
€œSpirit of the Age" and "Uncle Sam's on Mars"
and had co-ordinated a remix album of Hawkwind
material, "Future Reconstruction, Ritual of the
Solstice." Indeed, members of Hawkwind commented that they saw a link between the Free Festival
movement of the counterculture and the newly emerged Rave movement.
By 1993 Hawkwind had slimmed down its lineup to become a trio comprising Dave Brock on vocals,
guitars and keyboards, Alan Davey on bass, vocals, guitars and keyboards and Richard Chadwick on
drums, percussion and programming. On Hawkwind's album of that year, "It Is The Business Of The
Future To Be Dangerous", Brock, Davey and Chadwick produced the most ambient work by the band to
date, taking on board some influences of the dance scene whilst sounding uniquely like Hawkwind. The
album was the first to be issued on the newly formed Emergency Broadcast System label, established by
Hawkwind and their then managers Doug Smith and Eve Carr and caused many cynical critics to rethink
their opinions of the band.
The "Business Trip" tour of November and December 1993 was one of the most intense series of UK and
European dates undertaken by the band in some time and gave birth to the eponymous live album (also
featuring some studio material) issued in September 1994. With Dave Brock and Richard Chadwick
particularly keen to explore a more ambient and electronic direction, following the successful European
25th anniversary tour of October and November 1994, Hawkwind entered Rockfield studios to record an
entirely instrumental ambient work, comprising ideas left over from the sessions that gave rise to their
preceeding two albums. A collection of eleven ambient pieces, the album would be a fifty minute cycle of
music that was arguably a worthy successor to 1982's "Church of Hawkwind" album, another record
born from a desire to experiment with different musical styles. Issued on the Emergency Broadcast
System label in February 1995, "White Zone" was credited to the fictitious â€˜Psychedelic Warriors'. In a
contemporary interview Alan Davey would comment "we had so much material left over from those
albums that Doug Smith suggested that we finish and release it as an album. None of the material was in
a rock direction so we decided to issue it under a different name, partly in an attempt to aim it at a
different market." Despite being an effective and accomplished album, "White Zone" failed to make an
impression on the UK album charts and passed many Hawkwind fans by.
By the time of the album's release Hawkwind were already looking forward. They had expanded their
lineup to include vocalist Ron Tree and were preparing to undertake a tour of the USA and Canada,
following which work on their next studio album, "Alien 4" would begin. More than a curio in
Hawkwind's impressive history, "White Zone" is a fine experimental work which is at last available on CD
once more, fifteen years on from its original release. An intriguing, yet accomplished album that is part of
the remarkable Hawkwind canon.
Blood of the Earth
Captain's Log, Star Date 21st June 2010. An
update from Planet Hawkwind since the band's last
studio album, 'Take Me To Your Leader'.
Less than five earthly years have passed by since
the unveiling of Hawkwind's penultimate studio
album, 'Take Me To Your Leader', and yet many
things are different in the band's ever-changing
universe. To commemorate the release of
Hawkwind's newest creation, 'Blood of the Earth',
join us as guitarist / vocalist Dave Brock looks back
upon the most recent half-decade of the group's
long and eventful career.
As the band's first official studio release in eight
years, also due in part to a guest appearance from
TV presenter Matthew Wright, 'Take Me To Your
Leader' was subjected to a little more scrutiny than
usual. "I was happy at the way it was received,"
states Brock. "To me, albums are like pictures, you
paint them and then put them away, but the album
had some nice little moments, especially the poem
that Arthur Brown made up for us on the spot, 'A Letter To Robert'." The album also featured a third
cameo, from 70s punk songstress Lene Lovich.
'Take Me To Your Leader' was followed a year later by 'Take Me To Your Future', a popular CD / DVD
dual-disc, of studio outtakes and archive live video.
In 2006 bassist Alan Davey left the band and was replaced by Mr. Dibs, a long-standing member of the
road crew who remains with them to this day.
On 30th March 2007, Hawkwind infiltrated the mainstream when BBC4 aired a lengthy documentary
about the band. Feeling that the show as a bit of a stitch-up, Brock did not appear in the show, entitled
Hawkwind Do Not panic, though he does acknowledge that, for better or worse, its mere existence must
have tickled the fancy of some new fans, also bringing a few older ones out of hibernation.
"That was in 2007, which was a bad year for me because my Mum and Dad both died," Dave reveals, his
voice full of sadness. Then, snapping out of it suddenly, he announces: "But it was also a good year
because I got married at the Hawkfest. Getting married and playing at the Hawkfest - that was quite a
For those that do not know, Hawkfest is the band's own open-air event, which has run since 2001. If
you've not been, it's great fun - you should give it a try. And Dave's bride was none other than Kris Tait,
the band's current manager. As an aside, later this year the band also hopes to bring its ambitious plan of
taking their fans on holiday with them, to the vineyards of France, to fruition.
Still in 2007, Hawkwind were rejoined by synthesizer player Tim Blake after an enjoyable reconnection in
Keeping Hawkwind in the public eye, in late 2008 Atomhenge Records began an extensive re-issue
campaign, releasing deluxe editions of the group's catalogue from the years 1976 through to 1997 (from
'Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music' to 'Distant Horizon') and adding a pair of lavish three-disc
anthologies ('Spirit of the Age' and 'The Dream Goes On') to the band's catalogue.
Brock agrees that Atomhenge did a thorough job. 1980's 'Levitation', for instance, was expanded into a
three-disc behemoth, complete with a show from the tour at London's Lewisham Odeon.
Tragically, keyboard player Jason Stuart's life was cut short by a brain haemorrhage on 8th September
2008. "The band had been to France and did this fantastic festival on the beach," remembers Dave.
"Little did any of us know, it would be the last time that Jason played with us. He was a lovely guy, it
was such a shame."
Former Tribe Of Cro guitarist Niall Hone joined Hawkwind for their winter tour of 2008. The following
year -2009- was an extremely important one for the group, as it marked their 40th anniversary. On the
28th and 29th of August, fans flew into London from all over the world to experience two very special
concert events at Ladbroke Grove's Porchester Hall.
On the first night the band were introduced onstage by none other than Iron Maiden singer Bruce
Dickinson, who was later spotted in the crowd playing along to 'Silver Machine' on his kazoo!
There were rumours that David Gilmour was present on the Saturday night, but although some maintain
the former Pink Floyd guitarist was seen wandering around the building, nobody knows for sure. One
thing that is for certain: Eric Clapton sent the band a nice congratulatory telegram which was read out
before the Saturday night's performance.
"The aim was to recreate an indoor festival from the 1970s, and I think we achieved that," maintains
Brock. "We had a good old fashioned psychedelic light show which people could lie on the floor and
admire. It was stressful, that kind of anniversary gig always is, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself."
On 13th March 2010, Hawkwind said goodbye to Carol Clerk, the trusted journalist that had penned their
well-balanced and studiously researched official biography, The Saga of Hawkwind. "Carol was a real
character and a great writer, she [was] always very careful about checking her facts," Dave sighs. â
€œIt's so unfortunate when people like that leave us."
Despite their enviable longevity, the music industry has rarely offered Hawkwind the respect the band
deserves. So the news that Britain's Mojo magazine was to acknowledge the Hawks as winners of 2010's
MOJO Maverick Award -previous recipients of which include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Fall, Manic
Street Preachers and The Jesus And Mary Chain- was especially welcome. Speaking before the
ceremony which takes place on June 10, Dave comments: "It's a very nice thing to happen, not just for
me but all the other members of the band."
The album that's held so tightly in your greasy (truckers) palm has been a long time in the making. â
€œAfter Jason died and we got Niall in, the band seems to be going through one of its progressions," says
Brock with great enthusiasm. "Besides being a guitarist, Niall is a very fine bass player and he also taught
computer technology. Now he's adjusted to being with us he's starting to swap bass parts with Dibs.
Niall is quite wild, a bit like Lemmy in a way, whereas Dibs is more restrained so it's an interesting
development. And with Tim doing his electronic parts, it's going to get more interesting still."
Recorded at Earth Studios, a facility based at Brock's home, and released via Eastworld Recordings, a part
of the Plastic Head group, 'Blood of the Earth' -an obvious reference to volcanic lava- sees the return of
Matthew Wright on a track called 'Blood of the Earth'. Jon Sevink from the Levellers, who played on
several dates of the band's last tour, but enjoyed himself so much he stayed right till the end, also plays
violin on several tracks.
Besides a wealth of original material, the band has recorded stage favourite 'You'd Better Believe Itâ€™ for
the first time, also revisiting 'Sweet Obsession', which originally appeared on Brock's 1984 solo album
'Earthed To The Ground'. Disc Two offers a live rendition of Syd Barrett's â€˜Long Gone'.
But the question everybody wants to know is whether the record is based upon some sort of concept?
After stating that he'd rather people made up their own minds what 'Blood of the Earth' is about, Brock
responds "Well, it is conceptual but it goes askew at one point and gets involved in love, and the problems
that emotion can bring," he pauses briefly for a laugh. "Then it gets back on course again and heads off
Life on Planet Hawkwind: it's never dull.