|A Metalhead Remembers
This recollection was written by Dave Law & is published here with his permission.
Dave Law (left)....
---and the band he
went to see (right)
The whole idea of this article is that it is not to be a piece of historical importance, but rather an affectionate
and hopefully at times an amusing look back at my own personal experiences of going to see the Hawks. So
if it's not totally chronologically correct or if I miss out something that you feel is important, then whilst I
apologise, so be it, it's just what I remember. All that I hope is that you enjoy this little walk down memory
lane and that it reminds you of some good times (most of the time!).
A couple of thank-you's at this point. Firstly to Starfarer aka Steve for being so kind as to let me include this
piece on his excellent site (standards had to drop at some point, and I think that you've just reached that
"point"). Secondly to Simon Lilly for the loan of his large collection of Hawkwind memorabilia and press
cuttings, nice one! A whole hearted thank you goes out to the pair of you!!!!
So anyway, sit back, relax, read and most of all enjoy!
Part 1 - The Awakening!
Cast your minds back (if you can) it's the late 70's, early 80's and this young man's musical tastes are just
starting to mature. At the time it was fashionable to cover your school bag with the names of your favourite
bands (do kids still do this? I doubt it, today it would be the name of their favourite Playstation game). Heavy
metal was very popular at the time (NWOBHM anybody?) and in amongst the "Saxon", "Maiden" and "Priest"
logos that would often appear, another name would regularly crop up, you've guessed it - Hawkwind. I don't
know what it was that attracted me, but something told me that "this was the band for you", it certainly
wasn't the music as I hadn't heard any at this point. So, armed with nothing more than curiosity (and a fiver,
remember those days ahhh!) I hot-footed it down to my local record store, "The Golden Disc" in
Southend-on-Sea, and promptly brought "Church of Hawkwind". Once I got it home I proceeded to put it on
the turntable and sat back to listen to my new purchase. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't
what I was hearing. It was heavy on the synths and light on guitar and certainly a shock to a teenage Saxon
fan! I couldn't say that I liked it (mind you, I still don't rate it that highly), but it did leave me curious to find
out more. So the very next week armed with yet another Â£5.00 note I purchased "Levitation". This was
more like it, the title track with its' thundering guitars and pounding drums, "Motorway City" and "Who's
Gonna Win The War" with their almost commercial overtones. Now I was convinced, week after week a
pattern emerged, get paid Friday (Â£20.00, summer job), Saturday down to the record store and buy another
Hawkwind album - Sonic Attack, Hawklords, PXR5 etc. etc., the collection was growing, I was hooked...¦
One of my other routines ay the time was to purchase "Sounds" (NME, no thanks) and scour their news
pages for the latest tour dates (I had been introduced to live music the previous year by a friend of mine at the
time, Russell who had taken me to see Thin Lizzy at the Hammersmith Odeon ). You have to remember that
we are talking over 20 years ago and that the internet and online booking were nothing more than pipe dreams
at the time and the music papers were the only way that you could get tour information. So anyway there I
am browsing through the news pages when it hits me "HAWKWIND TOUR DATES". I look down the list, 2
nights at the "Hammy O". Only one thing to do, get tickets, so sent off (yes sent off) postal orders and in a
few days these were returned to me and I had them in my grubby little hands.
Russell was going to accompany me to my "baptism of fire". He had been fortunate (?) enough to work for
Hawkwind as a stage hand on several occasions when they had played the "Kursaal" in Southend. He had
warned me that although the band had a reputation for a spectacular light show that their set-up tended to be
"a bit basic". This was a bit of a shock to a young lad who was being weaned on a diet of 400 lamp lighting
rigs, pyrotechnics by the bucket load and dragons that breathed fire (thankfully this one only applied to Dio).
At least with Russell you could actually talk about Hawkwind's music. If I mentioned the name to most other
people the stock answer was usually (and still is for that matter!) "Oh, Hawkwind, yeah I saw them years
ago, don't remember much about them, too pissed, stoned, combination of the two (delete as applicable), but
they did have some bird with big tits who danced naked!". Anyway I am digressing here so let's go back to
that fateful night in November 1982.
At the time the "Hammy O" was my favourite venue, I always got a chill of anticipation down my spine as I
approached its impressive entrance (oo err missus), and tonight was no different. Once inside first things
first (no, not the bar, I was underage anyway!) - no, the t-shirt stand of course and no sooner had I made my
way, or should I say fought my way to the front (I will not insult anyone by describing it as a queue, this was
unorganised chaos) than a black "Choose Your Masques 1982" tour t-shirt was in my possession. Once I
had managed to remove myself from the melee I put my new purchase on over my existing one (come on we
all did it, didn't we, you didn't, oh s**t ). This left just one more thing to do, no not visit the bar we've been
through that, but instead to enter the church (of Hawkwind), I mean the auditorium itself. Once inside a
quick look at the stage proved that Russell was no liar, although most of the Hawks gear was behind a large
curtain what was on display was pretty "basic" compared with what I had seen previously.
We took our seats, row W near the middle if memory serves me correctly and before you could say "what
was she like then, the bird with the big tits", it was support band time. Back in those days (1982) Hawkwind
were still with RCA and I always got the impression that the record company had a big say in the support act
(I feel that this applied to all bands not just the Hawks). In other words rather than the headline act choose
who they wanted, the label would instead install whoever they felt suitable!! The act who pulled the short
straw on this occasion were none other than the Spanish "Heavy metal heavyweights" (my description and it's
sarcastic!) ***BARON ROJO*** In those days supporting Hawkwind was a hopeless task to say the least,
at best most of the evening's audience were either :-
A - Still at the venue bar
B - Still at the pub
C - Getting stoned somewhere
D - A combination of all or any of the above
Those who did make the effort were better prepared than most, for the most part they were pissed or stoned
already, and such was their partisan love of Hawkwind the support was nothing more than something visible
for the assembled throng to hurl abuse at. On this score the "mighty Rojo" fared no differently to countless
others! An added 'bonus' for some (not all) was that in 1982 the Falklands conflict was still fresh in the
mind, couple this with fact that the Spanish had some allegiance with Argentina and you can start to imagine
some of the frankly racist and xenophobic taunts coming from some parts of the audience (being serious for
a moment I didn't at the time and do not condone this behaviour today, it's just what I remember). If I was
one of the "Barons" I would have considered things like "you're s**t" and "you w*****s" as compliments
compared with some of the abuse that they withstood. That said they were absolutely s**t!!
Once we had endured, I mean Baron Rojo had finished, it was the standard Â½ hour changeover or so I
thought. Not so, oh no this was Hawkwind remember, so instead of listening to the sounds of AC/DC, Rush
or whoever being piped from the P.A., we were instead treated to some half time entertainment. This came
in the form of a magician. No ordinary magician either, with not a bow tie or dinner jacket in sight (oh that's
Michael Moorcock, sorry my mistake). This one came with a natty pair of red spandex trousers and, if my
memory is not playing tricks on me, a cape. In my naivety I spotted the trousers behind the curtain a couple
of minutes earlier and in my innocence had presumed it was one of the Hawks, probably Brock, setting up
their gear (Dave Brock in red spandex - now there's a thought). Anyway I couldn't tell you what tricks he
performed, only to say that it was pretty standard 'magician' fare, with of course the added bonus of the
On completion of Spandex Man's magic set the arrival of the evening's main event was imminent. Sure
enough after a few more minutes wait the house lights dimmed, the crowd roared and before too long
Hawkwind were on stage and playing the almost 'electronica' sounding title track from ' Choose Your
Masques' . I don't remember the sound being anything special, but my one overriding thought at the time was
"bloody hell it's a bit dark up there, I can't see the band!". For those not familiar with the stage show on this
tour, the band employed very few lights, instead the visuals came from large banks of TV screens positioned
behind the Hawks and to either side of the stage. With virtually no overhead lighting, all you could see, if you
were lucky were just the silhouettes of the band as they played. In retrospect it was pretty cool but at the
time I was used to being able to see my heroes! After 5 minutes or so another roar went up from the crowd
and they had been joined by someone else - Nik Turner no less. Now if my memory serves me correctly he
was wearing what could only be described as a Rastafarian style dreadlock wig which he soon discarded
(don't quote me on that). Even then there were two very distinct camps amongst the audience, namely pro-
Turner and anti-Turner. For every person who seemed genuinely pleased to see him there was another who
was giving him flak that previously had been reserved for our friends the 'Rojo'. Regardless of this he stayed
for the rest of the gig (and a few years after that!). I can't say that I remember much of what they played
that night although I assume that Psychedelic Warlords, Social Alliance, Brainstorm and Ejection all featured
as they appear on the 'Voiceprint' live album from that tour. To be honest though, they really did not impress
me much that night, the set didn't seem to flow and with the stage being so dark, it felt like you were listening
to the band rather than actually seeing them. After the obligatory encore the gig was over and I have to admit
to being a bit disappointed. The previous bands that I had been to see had literally 'blown me away' whereas
this left me with a feeling of "Well it was OK, nothing special" (in retrospect how I could have thought that is
beyond me - I mean Baron Rojo, a magician and Hawkwind all on the same bill!).
To be honest after this my interest in the band waned somewhat and I would probably have left my "Hawk"
experience at that had it not been for a stroke of luck about a year later and with a little help from a certain
'Gary Numan' (this link is a bit tenuous but it sounds good!) If you want to find out how the 'Numanoid'
helped my rehabilitation into the congregation of the "Church of Hawkwind" then hopefully Starfarer will let
me write some more Hawk related exploits for his site in the near future as we continue my (sometimes
fuzzy) journey down memory lane!
I hope you have enjoyed the ride so far and would welcome your comments, thoughts, feedback etc either
via Starfarer or you can e-mail me direct at email@example.com
Thanks for reading