This article is from an unknown publication and dates from 1972 - many thanks to Alfred Koessl for
sending it to me
Hawkwind are not, despite popular opinion, a "sci-fi rock" band or a band of roadies gone berserk and
neither is their most recent promotion a "Space Opera", but it is a "Space Ritual" based upon the
Pythagorean musical scale.
While you are picking the bones out of that little lot which I gleaned in conversation with musicnaut
Nik Turner and designer-coordinator Barney Bubbles, who hails from the planet 'Xenon' you might like
to consider the introductory words to their performance of their astro-guru-writer Michael Moorcock
who I am reliably informed 'looks like Guy Fawkes and rides a bike!':
Space is infinite
It is dark
Space is neutral
It is cold
Space does not threaten
It does not sleep
It does not dream
It does not hope
It does not love
It does not hate
Space cannot be measured
Space is not large and it is not small
It does not love and does not die
It does not offer truth and neither does it lie
Space is remorseless
Space is the absence of time and of matter
Moorcock is a kind of space age Tolkien and if you have never read the adventures of Dorian
Hawkmoon and the Runestaff may I be the first to direct you in search of the nearest paperback
stockist of 'Mayflower' books. Together with Bob Calvert, who originally conceived their space trip
and appears on the odd gig to read his poetry, they are two of the most important influences outside the
"Moorcock has always been an inspiration," Nik told me. "But Bob is more of a direct contributor and
the Space Opera, which is really a ritual was his idea. It's almost a religious ceremony - some of our
gigs have that kind of atmosphere.
"Most of the material was written by Bob and
concerns a fantasy - (Hawkwind are more
concerned with space fantasy than fiction) - about
seven cosmonauts who are travelling through
space in a state of suspended animation. Arthur
C. Clarke says that when the body is in a state of
suspended animation you don't have dreams but
that's bullshit because it's only the body that stops
- the mind goes on!
"The 'Space Opera' is an audio visual portrayal of
their fantasies and dreams as they travel through
space. It's a very flexible situation in which there is all kinds of scope to bring up subjects which are
relative to our society in more realistic terms of ecology.
"The whole trip will be to involve the audience within the journey through space and time through the
minds of those astronauts. We're buying a new P.A. and a good mixer - the whole auditorium is the
spaceship and we are just the energy unit. If everything comes together as we hope - the lights, the
dancers, the music and the words which should be able to create a situation where people can identify
with the experience."
Barney Bubbles who despite his somewhat eccentric claim to have originated from the planet Xenon (I
seem to remember that Eno of Roxy Music makes the same claim to fame) is a very amiable, long-haired
bespectacled young man who drinks draught Guinness. It was he who designed the sleeve of their first
(sic) album "In Search Of Space" and is responsible for "Doremi Fasol Latido" - their latest. Barney is a
visualiser and paints the scenes!
"I've designed new speakers in chromium boxes which
gives us a metallic appearance more in keeping with the
group's image," Barney told me, "And we've painted
various areas in opposition to the Pythagorean musical
The Pythagorean musical scale for your information is:
DO - MARS - RED
RE - SUN - ORANGE
MI - MERCURY - YELLOW
FA - SATURN - GREEN
SO - JUPITER - BLUE
LA -VENUS - INDIGO
TI - MOON - VIOLET
"All the speakers and boxes in that area will be painted those colours and the musicnauts Del, Dik,
Simon, Lemmy and Dave will stand in positions relative to their signs."
Nik explained to me the impressions that he hopes people will take away with them from a typical
Hawkwind gig. "In very broad terms we are trying to say things through the terms of science fantasy
which people can identify with in their everyday lives," said Nik. "We want to make people aware that
there are things within themselves - that everyone is God, everybody is Jesus, Buddha, Krishna and
everybody is everything - that there is a oneness about life and the Universe."
Hawkwind have based their reputation and success
upon live appearances and it is their performance
which you really have to see to believe - if the term
"cosmic rockers" were ever to relate to a band, they
"The space thing started with Bob Calvert whom
we've known for a long while. Bob was editing a
science fiction magazine in the early days and
worked in close conjunction with the guy who
designed our first album and I was really interested
in it as he helped produce the concept for "In Search
Of Space". The band actually started off as
Hawkwind Zoo but the album was all about our good
and bad trips on acid. We've never really advocated
acid but it was something we went through.
"In those days the band was always a very loose band - we've always been the kind of people who have
advocated freedom of thought and action and as a consequence we occasionally found ourselves without
a drummer or a bass player because they didn't feel like turning up. Most of us have been roadies at
some point - I had a van which I used to hire out for groups like Clearwater, Skin Alley and High Tide -
but basically the reputation came out of the fact that we used to hump our own gear because we couldn't
afford anyone to do it for us.
"I don't style myself a musician because when people turn
round and criticise I can say it's not bad for a
non-musician. I'd rather get that reaction than a
put-down. I don't really feel I'm a musician."
The first occasion which brought Hawkwind to the
public's attention followed their free concert at the Isle of
Wight Festival where they played in a ploughed field a
short distance from the superstars for nothing. Freedom
is a key word in the group's musical policy and their
"We'll probably never be very rich or successful because
we're too easy to rip off." says Nik reflectively. "We lost
about Â£8,000 of equipment just a few weeks ago when
someone stole our van and we're still paying off debts for
the days when we were struggling.
"I have a lot of faith in the people with the right intentions
eventually winning through. I mean there is no apparent
reason for our success in terms of hype, promotion or
publicity. It simply seems that people have been to see us
and liked what they saw and heard."
Amongst the added attractions on any Hawkwind gig are
the ample charms of Stacia, their naked lady dancer, but I
asked Nik if it worried him that maybe people might come
and see the band for ulterior motives.
"I think it's a bit sad if they do. I think Stacia has really
nice things going for her and she dances really nicely but I
don't give a damn what reason people come to see us as
long as they stay and come back."
|Right: (L-R) Adrian Shaw,Bob Calvert & Simon King