Another great moment in bad timing! About a month after our previous issue went to print, I received a very
friendly letter from the subject of one of my attempted articles, Mr. Nik Turner. The more avid readers
among you may already have grasped the rather unfortunate consequences of this late arrival, for a number
of queries were answered and blanks were filled in that might otherwise have adorned the aforementioned
article and thereby added mightily to my somewhat undeserved reputation of all-encompassing knowledge
insofar as things of a Hawkwindish nature are concerned (I'm just making this up as I go along, you know).
What to do? (he asked himself with a mighty rubbing of chins, pulling of beards and generally unhelpful
tugging of earlobes). The answer, of course, turned out to be simple (they all are, once someone else has
thought of them): why not turn the rather unfortuitous mishap into a boon by writing around it a bit and
making it into a written interview? No sooner said than done; a case of one of Belgium's finest white lagers
was lugged up to my study and from there on, the resulting piece (which, I trust, you're about to read)
flowed quite naturally from my well-lubricated word processor. And this, as they say, is it:"
CW: Thanks for having us in, Mr. Turner; could you tell us some more about the beginnings of your career
as a musician? Something tells me that what scarce sources I have been able to tap for my article were not
always totally reliable, to say the least.
NT: "Well, before the Dutch thing you mentioned I played in a mod jazz band called The Canterbury Tail
Gaters and then I was with Virgin, which was a blues band, basically. We played one gig at a carnival, on the
back of a lorry. This was all before 1967."
CW: The year you went to Holland to participate in 'Tent 67'. Contrary to what I've seen written this was not
a group. But if not a band, then what exactly was it?
NT: "The 'Tent 67' happening (that travelled all over Holland) was a series of one night stands with a huge
tent being put up -the capacity was about a thousand people- and pulled down again after the show. Other
bands that were a part of this travelling circus were Les Baroques (from Baarn, L.), Cuby And The Blizzards
(the legendary Dutch blues band hailing from Grolloo, in the province of Drenthe; their reputation soon
spread throughout the Lowlands and even abroad; at one stage their guitar player, Eelco Gelling, was asked
to become a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers; at a later stage their line-up was to include Herman
Brood on piano, L. ), Het (a band from Amsterdam that started out singing in Dutch, scoring a fluke hit with
their debut single "Ik Heb Geen Zin om op te Staan", b/w "Alleen op het Kerkhof"; translated into English, this
means "I Don't Feel Like Getting Up" and "Alone in the Graveyard"; I love the aside; it's me, so to speak, L.),
Pocomania (a band that included a number of former Hot-members, L.) and others I can't remember. The
latter were run by a singer called Davey Jones, a black boy from New York for whom I was personal roadie
for some time. I had to carry his bag with his stage clothes and his towel, and drive him to gigs in a Mere.
He did a sort of James Brown soul show, where he'd get so moved he'd fall on the ground (sometimes into
the audience) and I'd have to run on stage with his towel, mop his brow, help him to get up and walk off as
he threw me away from him and grabbed the microphone and started singing again, real moving stuff! Then
we'd go round all the bars in Amsterdam drinking all night - he paid for it. And then of course another outfit
playing the Tent 67 happenings was The Famous Cure, or Dr. Brock's Famous Cure, through which I got to
know Dave. After this Tent 67 thing had drawn to a close it sort of metamorphosized into Mobile Freakout, a
show that could be described as a "psychedelic psircus". After that, it was back to Margate for me, playing
on the beach. I did keep in touch with Dave, however, and when the new band was being put together I got
a truck and planned to be a roadie for them."
CW: But things worked out a bit differently. The subsequent period is fairly well documented, up to 1976,
the time you and Hawkwind parted company. Any comments on that?
NT: "Most of the time when this subject comes up emphasis is put on the fact that Alan Powell and Paul
Rudolph wanted to get rid of me, but as far as I'm concerned it couldn't have happened without the quiet
consent of Dave, who has always and at all times wanted to be in control of things within the band. The
"gang up" theory is fine when it comes to saving face, of course. You know, I was even offered to be
reinstated as a member after the single would be finished ("Back on the Streets' and 'The Dream of Isis" that
was, released in January 1977, L.) ...a secret deal...but I turned it down, having lost all respect for everyone
in the band, and decided to have nothing more to do with them."
CW: So you went to Egypt?
NT: "The original idea was for me to go and spend Christmas with a friend who was living in Cairo at the
time but the day before I went my friend got deported. So I went anyway. When I got there I went into the
Great Pyramid of Cheops and when I heard what a great sound there was in the King's Chamber I decided to
record it on the flute, just for myself, using a theme of the "Egyptian Book of the Dead", when I returned to
England I found I still had a record contract with Charisma, so I decided to make an album with the Egyptian
recordings as a basis. So that's how 'Xitintoday' came into being."
CW: After the album was finished (roundabout the time it came out actually) you organized or co-organized
the "Bohemian Love-in" at the Round House.
NT: "Yes. That was directed by Barney Bubbles (the Hawkwind graphical artist, L.) and choreographed as
well. There were a lot of performance art groups and poets and lights shows and all. Film makers John
Andrews and Catherine Andrews were involved as well, and bands included Michael Moorcock's Deep Fix
(with Pete Pavli and Adrian Shaw, L.), Brian James' Tanz Der Youth (with Alan Powell and Andy
Colquhoun), John Cooper Clarke, Patrik Fitzgerald, The Lightning Raiders (with ex-Pink Fairy Duncan
Sanderson, L.) and Blood Donor. I can't remember who else but there were many others. It was all free."
CW: How does Inner City Unit fit into the order of things?
NT: "It developed out of Sphynx, really, when music got more hard-edged. It started off as Kunstblitz and
later U40, but then Barney Bubbles came up with Inner City Unit, to which we all went 'yeah!!'."
CW: After the release of the second I.C.U album, there seems to have been a gap of some years, during
which you had a number of other activities.
NT: "Yeah. Some of the band got involved with bad drugs and we broke up. I rejoined Hawkwind because
Dave invited me to and after a couple of years it felt right, but then I got the sack again. I was told I was not
putting enough energy into the band. Some of the time I didn't attend rehearsals because I was writing Elric /
Black Sword lyrics (I read all the books; I think I was the only one who did, actually!). I wrote about six
songs for the show which were very close to the story. But then it was decided I wasn't taking enough
interest in the band... Later on, I.C.U. came together again, with a slightly different lineup, and we continued
for two years more.
CW: In the meantime, you'd also been involved in the Imperial Pompadours project?
NT: "That came about when Barney Bubbles had the opportunity to produce an album of his choice. Andrew
Lauder (the A&R man for Radar Records, previously with United Artists, and actually the guy who'd
originally signed Hawkwind) chose the tracks to be recorded; they were mostly 'animal inspired': 'See Ya
Soon Baboon', 'Too-de-loo Kangaroo', 'Buzz Buzz Buzz went the Honey Bee', etc. but they weren't all used.
Then we rehearsed with Barney, heard the tunes long enough to write words down (and never heard them
again) and then went into the studio to record them (the 8-track Phoenix Studio, with Jaimie doing the
The whole thing was directed by Barney like a piece of graphic art. That was the A side. Side B (consisting
of 'Insolence Across the Nation', 'Life of Hitler' and 'Study in Fascism', L.) was mostly recorded in my flat in
London, from a basic rhythm track recorded in Wales with Inner City Unit playing and changing around
instruments (Barney had a go on the bass) with overdubbed quotes from German philosophers, Richard
Wagner, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, Hitler, Eva Braun, Wagner's wife...anybody who happened to be visiting
would suddenly be given a microphone and asked to read some quotations, and all this would be recorded
and used on the album. And there were samples of Wagner music and other things (odder things?, L.) mixed
in as well. The vocals featured Bob Calvert. Barney Bubbles, Baz Magneto, Mick Stupp, Trev Thoms, Dead
Fred, Fred's wife Claire, Claudia from Beryl & The Perils, Shelley Morris (from Carol Grimes' band), Lily
from 7 Kevins and many more. It was conceived of originally as the soundtrack to a stage show featuring
Wagner, his wife and the women in all the men's lives, King Ludwig, and Hitler, and was to be performed
before an audience of invited music business people who would be locked in, given seat and space numbers
(not allowed in if they were late) and subjected to the visuals and the sound (in Quad). This part never came
off, but it was put on the album. When Warner Bros. heard it they said "We don't want to release this
because it's pro-fascist". Barney said "No it isn't" so they said "O.K." and pressed and sold 10,000 copies (if
this number is correct then I wonder where they've all gone; I've only seen one copy so far. and Mr. Walter
Geertsen (our friendly neighbourhood record collector and connoisseur) confirms that the album's practically
never offered in collectors' lists)."
CW: In the article featured in CW number 5, I seem to have been mistaken about the stage that you own...
NT: "Yes, that's right, you refer to it as the stage that was used at the first Glastonbury festival in 1971, but
that's about fifty times the size! Mine was originally constructed as a scaled-down model of the Great
Pyramid for performances of the Sphynx show around all the festivals in Britain (paying and free) and it's
actually an orgone accumulator as well! The band were all dressed in white body stockings which were
projected upon by the psychedelic light show; we also had accomplished dancers who depicted the
time/space journey of the story in two-dimensional hieroglyphic mime. The stage was first used at a 'pirate'
Glastonbury festival in 1978: there was a convoy of vehicles driving in the vicinity of Glastonbury, looking
for a festival. Michael Eavis, owner of the present festival site, got caught up in the convoy and was asked
by the police if it was possible to 'get these people off the road and onto your farm please' temporarily. He
said O.K.; I arrived with my prototype stage, set it up for the first time...that was it, basically; it's been used
from then on at all or any festival (including Stonehenge) for the next 15 years solid. Yes, lots of people have
played on it, too numerous to enumerate, and lots of people have put it up as well."
CW: I know it was used at the Treworgy Tree Fayre in 1989, when you performed with the All Stars. How
did that band come together?
NT: "I was living In Wales by 1986 and there was a folk festival going on nearby, featuring Moving Hearts,
Alan Stivell and many others, including the Tibetan Ukrainian Mountain Troupe. The festival wasn't a success
financially, but I met and afterwards got together with two of the 'Tibetans', Glenda and Mick Danger (who
played bass and drums respectively), with Mike Jones (a local musician) on keyboards we formed Nik
Turner's All Stars, later to become Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars. We've been gigging solidly ever since,
with some line-up changes: two girl sax players, Ms. Lorraine Diamond on tenor and Ms. Amie Jade Cadillac
Ms. Diamond worked in a lot of circuses all over Europe as well: Circus Hazzard, Circus Bidon, Archaos,
Mutoid Waste Company and Cafe Bal doing juggling, acrobatics and trapeze. Ms. Jade Cadillac also does fire
juggling, contortionism and acrobatics and has worked with outfits like Hell's Fairies and Turbonana Circus
(I've a clipping here that says "she learned to play sax in a Mexican jail, turned down a scholarship at La
Scala and 'likes having fun'", L.).
The current line-up is me on saxes, Baby Face Welsh (who used to study at the Royal College of Music and
got expelled for outrageous behaviour, according to the All-Stars bio, L.) on trumpet, Mike Jones (he's also
worked with Marianne Faithful, Stevie Wonder, P.P. Arnold, Roy Orbison and Grace Jones, L.) on
Hammond organ, Gazz Tashin on bass and Isa Heider (who sessioned locally with Meic Stevens, a Welsh
singer / songwriter whose "Outlander" album is -as they say- a biggie in collectors' circles, L.) on drums.
And as I said, we've been doing lots of gigs ever since."
CW: Are there any other projects you've currently been involved in?
NT: "I'm currently playing in a jazz-funk band called The Bluehoudinis, a soul band called Soulfinger, which I
am partly managing (previously, they were called Maurice Travler And The Star Ting Handels), two ska
bands (among which The Ska Stars) and my trumpet players' band, The Swamp Boys. Then there's an
occasional 19-piece big band playing Count Basie and Duke Ellington arrangements, called Juvenile Janet And
The Red Hot Daddies (well, occasionally called that, it's a band which I run myself), another band that goes
by the name of Jazz Expressions, and a duo with sax and backing tapes; that one's called Streetjazz. And
many many more..."
CW: (bedazzled, bewitched and bewildered) And you've had a new album out recently as well.
NT: "Indeed. On the Cleopatra label from Los Angeles. 'Sphynx' is an updated version of the old album really,
produced in the U.S. by the band on it (including Helios Creed, Len Del Rio, Wayne James and Grenas; it
was reviewed by Marc in CW 6, L.) although it sounds nothing like the original. I'll be touring the U.S.A.
with this band in December and January. I'm currently working on some other projects as well: there's an
Inner City Unit-based album in the works, to be called 'Prophets (profits?) Of Time', I'll be recording a live
album and making a video, then doing a European tour in March/April maybe. Also, I have been playing
recently with a band called Pinkwind (about ten gigs) with Twink on drums and vocals, Danny Speakman on
guitar, Mike Quartermain on bass and Barry The Sot on drums, playing Hawkwind and Pink Fairies songs. It
sounds good and people like it. On December 22nd there's an Inner City Unit gig at the Emerald Rooms in
Hammersmith, London, with Trev Thoms (of Opal Butterfly, Steve Took's Horns, Inner City Unit and
Atomgods), Steffy Sharpstrings on bass and Stevie Skins on drums (both of Here And How and many
others), and Simon House on keyboards and violin, with maybe Pinkwind supporting. Should be good."
CW: I should say so! Thank you for setting aside the time to provide the answers to all this nose-poking of
The latest news -rumour, rather- concerning Mr. Turner and various musical companions is that there were
some dates booked in the U.K., to be played as Pinkwind, with Twink, Terry Ollis (!) and Dik Mik (!). The
latest Hawkzine mentions a projected U.S.A. tour that's to take place in early 1994, with Del Dettmar, Alan
Powell, Paul Rudolph and Lemmy. If any of this is true and things go through as planned I sure hope
someone has the good sense to record it all! The plans that are being laid for touring Europe could mean that
Nik Turner might be appearing at the Nijdrop in Opwijk come next February, March or April. I'm keeping my
fingers crossed, which is certainly not gonna make writing my articles any easier, but then it's all in a good
From issue 7 of Crohinga Well fanzine (left), which
was published in the Winter months at the end of 1993