Warriors on the Edge of Time

This is from the very splendid Classic Rock Presents Prog, or let's just call it Prog for short, Oct 2009.  Not
only were Hawkwind cover stars (below), but a Hawkwind album supplied the byline for the mag itself and
the cloth patch that came with it.  And the general theme of Weird Prog is probably thanks to them.
Thought of even then as a sort of poor man's Pink Floyd, as band founder,singer-guitarist Dave Brock told me,
"We could have been as big as Floyd. A few times the openings were there. But it's whether you've got a
torpedo mechanism to bring it all down and think, fuck that, you know? Once you do that, you're on the other
side. Hawkwind was always on the other side of everything..."

So much so that by the time I entered the picture, hired as the band's PR by manager Doug Smith for what
was essentially their comeback tour after falling apart on the road in America in 1978, they didn't even have a
record deal. Nevertheless, their first UK tour for two years was huge, taking in several nights at every Odeon,
Playhouse and Apollo the ship skidded to a halt in.

They had also lost all their captains, as Brock called them: those oddball characters known less for their
musicianship than the indelible impression they had made on Hawkwind audiences over the years. People like
co-founder Nik Turner, the "musically naive" sax player who had previously been the keeper of the Hawkwind
flame, insisting on the many free gigs they did, and magnet for most of the other captains, like his old cohort
from Margate, Robert Calvert, the manic-depressive genius who helped conceptualise Hawkwind's "aural
equivalent of an acid trip"; Barney Bubbles, whose lysergic images of aliens, space storms, Stonehenge and
naked breasts had adorned all their early album sleeves and tour posters; writer Michael Moorcock, who would
routinely turn up at Hawk-shows and read his dementedly futuristic poetry; Dik Mik (real name: Michael Davis)
whose 'audio generator' - responsible for all those whooshing noises - was made, he claimed, from the parts of
an old vacuum cleaner (actually a customised ring modulator); and Stacia, the 22-year-old statuesque beauty
whose Amazonian-like figure would transfix audiences by dancing naked with the band, her vast, undulating
hips and bouncing, battleship breasts daubed in Bubbles-esque designs.

And then there was Lemmy, the 25-year-old bassist with the Iron Cross dangling round his neck, whose
ashtray voice had made its debut on Hawkwind's solitary hit single, Silver Machine, in 1972. The last of
Brock's captains to arrive, and the first to be asked to leave ("for taking the wrong drugs") Lemmy was
destined to be the one non-Hawkwind fans would remember best from those days.

Lemmy didn't actually play bass when he joined. He was just "one of Dik Mik's little drug-orientated loonies
that he used to know," according to Turner. None of which mattered much anymore by the time I was
press-ganged into becoming part of the troupe; not a captain, of course; more a cabin boy. But a very
enthusiastic cabin boy, it has to be said.

I was 21 and all I knew about Hawkwind, at that point, was the same as most people my age knew: they had
had the big hit, they had had a good enough follow-up {Urban Guerrilla) which should have been a hit but
wasn't because the BBC banned it from their airwaves (commercial death back then). The rest was all double
live albums and conceptual foot-shooting. I knew Lemmy had been in the group, but that had been before punk
rock and Motorhead came along. And I knew about Stacia, of course. Let's face it, no one was likely to forget
Stacia. But that was it. "Doesn't matter," said Doug. "Just jump in at the deep-end." So that's what I did.

Before the tour started, I arranged for a long day of phone interviews for them with the writers of pop columns
in various regional newspapers. Unwilling to be prised from his Devonshire farm, Brock designated this task to
the two least famous members of the group: bassist Harvey Bainbridge, an amiable, fuzzy-haired son-of-Dorset
who looked like one of those absent-minded science teachers that allow their pupils to set fire to themselves
with Bunsen burners; and guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, the Welsh-named Englishman who had played on
Hawkwind's eponymously-titled debut album in 1969, then left after "finding Jesus," following a particularly
"hectic" gig in Amsterdam. Now he was back. I wasn't sure if Jesus was still with him but he did seem very
cheerful whenever we bumped auras.

I remember dutifully putting them on the phone to papers like the Altringham Evening News and the Bradford
Echo, then sitting back, rolling joints as they did their best to drum up publicity for the forthcoming tour. It
began well enough - "Yes, we're very committed to our fans" and "I've always loved Bristol audiences". By the
end though I literally had to tear the phones from their hands as phrases such as "inter-dimensional reality" and
"fucked-up on mushrooms" began to more freely circulate.
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He was a fresh-faced 21-year-old
publicist. They were the Psychedelic
Warlords, an already famous band
who had only recently disbanded and
even more recently decided to
reform.  Mick Wall relives his days on
tour with Hawkwind on the band's
now-legendary 1979 UK tour.

We've all seen the movie: a
post-apocalyptic nightscape where the
only survivors are battle- weary,
semi-mutant humanoids living off
radioactive rats and sparkling yellow
fart-pee. That to say, one fucked-up
place to wake up the next morning,
man. Yet this is where we found
ourselves, signed-up as part of the
doomed crew of the bad-ship
Hawkwind, in that long, dark winter of
1979.

As Lemmy, long since departed from
the group but still hovering on the edge
of their dilated Ladbroke Grove vision
-that is, still managed by the same
people- would tell me. "People think of
Hawkwind as this sort of hippie peace
and love group. But it was never that.
We weren't looking for peaceful, we
were looking for horrid. The spaceship
was always broken down with us."
Mick Wall fondly remembers original Hawkwind
dancer Stacia:

Like so many of the original Hawkwind 'captains', the
beautiful Stacia just seemed to turn up out of the blue one
day. "We were doing a gig in Exeter," Dave Brock
recalled for me wistfully, "and she came and asked if she
could dance, and we said yes, and then she took all her
clothes off!"  When Stacia also turned up the followuing
night at a gig in Redruth and got up onstage and danced
naked again, "We decided to keep her," shrugged Dave.

And had there ever been any, well, you know, romantic
dalliances between Stacia and the band themselves, I
asked Nik Turner years later. "Oh, more than one," he
chortled.  "Though not with me," he was quick to add.
"You'd have to ask Lemmy..."

Unfortunately, Stacia had left the band by the time I came
to work for them in 1979.  However, she did turn up at
the end-of-the-tour party in London.  By then she was
married with children and living in Hamburg with
husband Roy Dyke, formerly of Ashton Gardner &
Dyke, but she still looked...well, like Stacia - except with
clothes on.

"I'd just like to say what a pleasure it is meeting you," I
said while staring at her still absolutely magnificent
breasts.  "Thank you," she said.  "Who are you?"  It was
the end of the tour, though, and I wasn't entirely sure any
more.  I made my excuses and stumbled off into the
night.
At this point, however, I'd like to say what a nice bloke Tim was. I'd like to but that would be fibbing. "Why
aren't we on the cover?" he asked me every time he picked up a music paper. "Um, well..."

A getting-to-know-you dinner was eventually arranged by a bohemian couple whose friends included Donovan.
Tim liked it there, I was told, because he could converse in French with Dreen, the lady of the house. "What
part of France is Tim from?" I asked her. "He was bom in Hammersmith, I think," she smiled sweetly. Mon
dieu.

Even the worldly Brock had his 'artistic' side. A former busker from Feltham, in Middlesex, who was already
27 and married with a young son when, in the autumn of 1968, he had started the original line-up of
Hawkwind, Brock looked like the sort of grumpy, lank-haired, ageing hippie you went to see for a five-quid deal
when you didn't know anyone else who sold "stuff." Short, beanpole thin, and with dark, ominous-looking
tattoos on his forearms, Dave always looked heavy. Whether stripped to the waist or draped in his Afghan, he
emanated a different vibe, like he was holding just a little back, some cosmic joke only he would find funny.

One morning on the tour after a show in Edinburgh, I sidled up to him at the hotel reception desk where we
were checking out and said, by way of a laugh, "The bins are round the back, mate." It was his fingerless
leather gloves that put the image in my mind; that and the sawn-off denim waistcoat, three- day-old stubble and
hook-shaped roll-your-own dangling from his whiskery gob.

He just looked at me. "You're fired," he said, then walked off, leaving me hanging, unsure whether he was
joking or not. "Just get on the bus and don't say another word," advised the tour manager. "You'll soon find out
if he meant it when he orders you off again somewhere in the middle of the motorway."

I did as I was told. Fortunately, I wasn't thrown off the bus but that was the end of me chitchatting to Dave
for the rest of the tour. It would be 20 years before we spoke properly again, and by then, in my new-found
guise as a journalist, I think he'd forgotten I existed. I'd certainly hoped so. My big pal in the band on that tour
was drummer Simon King. After Dave, Simon had been in Hawkwind longer than anyone still left in it. Simon
and I bonded in a way only two men with an unquenchable thirst for drugs of any description and at any time
of the day or night can.

We both had our gimmicks. Mine was a repeat-prescription for some heavy-duty painkillers that a certain
private doctor well-known to the rock biz back then had given me just before the start of the tour to relieve my
'toothache'. This meant that wherever we were on the road, I was only ever an open chemist's shop away from
copping a load of synthetic 'pain relief with all the properties of non-synthetic morphine. What Simon brought
to the table was an extraordinarily long little fingernail that he utilised to scoop- out large doses of white powder
from the endless envelopes of the stuff he kept about his person, before drilling the talon-like appendage up
your hooter where it would be liberally applied like a high-powered nasal-spray.

Between the two of us, it's fair to say there wasn't a night on that tour I didn't enjoy immensely, or can
properly remember details of now. I do, however, recall the final night of the tour when a party was held for
the band, to which it seemed every acid-casualty and long-haul hippie left in London -plus their old ladies- had
been invited.

It was my one and only tour with Hawkwind and it had been, as advertised, a trip. The only regrets I have now
are that I didn't know more about their actual music, something now rectified. Only a fool would overlook the
contribution Hawkwind made to the story of rock, particularly in the 1970s; the handful of wonderfully
evocative and original-sounding albums they made back then sounding still as far-out now as they did then, at
the dawn of the space-rock age. Dismissed as the cosmic jokers of the psychedelic pack, what should always
be borne in mind is that Hawkwind would not -could not- have had it any other way.

-Mick Wall
All fairly normal stuff, though, for 1979. Somewhat
harder to control were the expectations of the
band's whizz-kid new keyboardist, Timothy 'Tim'
Blake, a French-speaking Englishman whose
"innovative use of lasers" I remember writing in
some press release before I'd actually seen his
work, had "revolutionised lightshows". What this
meant in reality, I would discover, was a machine
that aimed two thin green beams of light at the
balcony and ceiling at every show on the tour,
where they would crisscross, go up and down, then
fizzle out again. "Wow," went the audience.
"Fucking hell," I would exclaim, in bored
exasperation.