|Hawkwind Recent History 1988 - 2010
There are a number of sites in my Links pages which have Hawkwind histories, but all of them
concentrate on the 70's and early 80's. Nowhere can you find a history of the band in recent times. The
best one is Age Parr's, but his goes up to the end of 1987 only. (True when I wrote that, he's up to the
mid 90's now.) So here's (some of) what's happened since then.
Left: Dave Brock,
1995 (Alien4 tour)
This was a hectic year for Hawkwind, with the Xenon Codex studio album (produced by Guy Bidmead,
who'd previously worked with Motorhead) being released in April, and the band undertaking a 25-date UK
tour over the space of 28 days to promote it. The 22nd April show at the Hammersmith Odeon was
broadcast on Radio 1, and was a stormer of a gig. April also saw the release of Dave Brock's 'Agents of
Chaos' solo album. Just a month later they were out on the road again, playing at various free festivals
(there were a lot of them that year!), both as Hawkwind and as 'Hawkdog', a festival band consisting of
Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge and members of Tubilah Dog (Jerry Richards being among the latter).
Among the more informal gigs were a performance in a lay-by on the A36 in the Wylye Valley near
Salisbury: and an impromptu gig at the Famous Firkin in Newquay, whilst en route to yet another free fest.
This frenetic activity was interrupted by the sudden and unexpected death of Robert Calvert on 14/08/88.
Aged 43, he suffered a heart attack whilst at his home in Margate.
Hawkwind business continued with several dates in September,
before the band launched another UK tour in November/December.
A few live tracks from one of the December dates subsequently
appeared on the 'Undisclosed Files' album - Ejection, Motorway City,
Dragons & Fables, Heads and Angels of Death. Meanwhile their
summer of free festivals was commemorated that November with the
issue of the Traveller's Aid Trust album, a double LP featuring only
one Hawkwind track and plenty of other cuts from bands who had supported them. The festival band
network also provided Hawkwind with a new drummer; Richard Chadwick, formerly of Smart Pils,
replaced Danny Thompson.
On March 5th, Hawkwind played a Bob Calvert tribute gig at the Brixton Academy, with the proceeds
going to Bob's widow: given the vagaries of the music business he had died impoverished. This was Huw
Lloyd Langton's last gig with the band, which he left immediately after the concert - bringing to an end his
lengthy presence in the Mothership from 1979-89. He was not replaced.
The Hawkdog gigs resumed after the Calvert tribute, although Crum (Dave Brock's collaborator on the
'Agents of Chaos' album) had by now replaced Harvey Bainbridge in Hawkdog (but not in Hawkwind).
Hawkwind then played an early summer UK tour, culminating in an appearance at the Glastonbury Festival,
ahead of a US tour which was cancelled; so compared with 1988, the summer was a quiet one. However
the band limbered up in early September for their 20th anniversary gig at the Brixton Academy. It was
something of a reunion with many old members turning up and joining the band on stage as guests. Later
in September and October Hawkwind were able to embark on a rescheduled and extended North American
tour, their first visit to the USA since 1978, and unlike that tour, this one proved highly successful.
Hawkwind kicked off 1990 with a rare TV studio appearance, in Nottingham on 25th January. This show
was for the ITV series 'Bedrock' and aired at 3am one night a few months later. It was released on VHS as
'Live Legends' in December 1990 and is currently available on DVD and VHS under the title of 'Classic
Rock: Hawkwind'. This same performance also appears on the 'Live 1990' album. The performance was
notable for the guest appearances of Bridget Wishart and Simon House - for many fans this was the first
time they had seen him with Hawkwind since 1978.
A new studio album, Space Bandits, was released in April 1990 and charted, thanks to renewed interest in
the band from the nascent rave scene. Gig-wise the spring and summer were quiet, though the band
played a high-profile part in the Glastonbury Festival, with 2 sets 2 days apart.
An unsavoury incident in August 1990 at the Telscombe Cliffs festival near Brighton put paid to
Hawkwind's involvement with the Free Fest scene, which was in any case dying on its' feet. Among the
Travellers, a group of nihilists known as the Brew Crew (their drugs of choice being Special Brew and
heroin) had come into being. Some of these people attacked Hawkwind's bus, assaulted some members of
the band's entourage and made death threats against others. Dave Brock went on stage with a wrench in
his pocket should it be needed. It wasn't, but the band had to be smuggled off the festival site in other
people's vans, etc., to ensure their own safety. The lyrics of the 1995 song 'Festivals' (Alien4 album) refer
to this incident.
An extensive UK tour in October and November was followed by another US tour, building on the success
of the 1989 visit. This time Bridget Wishart joined them, providing female vocals for the first time ever.
The live California Brainstorm album was recorded at the Oakland Omni gig on 16/12/90. (Hi Doug!)
In March/April, a European tour was undertaken, without Dave Brock - Steve Bemand of Smart Pils
deputised as the Captain was busy readying the Palace Springs live album for release. This extensive tour
saw the first Hawkwind gigs to be played in Yugoslavia and Greece. A bust-up occurred at the end of it
and Bridget Wishart left Hawkwind owing to an "it's me or her!" ultimatum from another (unnamed!)
member of the band. Harvey Bainbridge also departed the ranks for family reasons.
Another US tour took place in May, with Hawkwind now down to a trio - Brock, Davey and Chadwick.
The Palace Springs album was issued in June, a few UK dates were played in July and August to promote
it. The 3 remaining members of the band played a full scale European tour of Scandinavia, Germany and
the Benelux countries in September/October, rounding off the year with a few more UK dates. 1991
rivalled 1988 for the sheer number of gigs played, although the vast majority of them were outside of the
The Italian book 'Never Ending Story of the Psychedelic Warlords' was also published in 1991, and the
volume of compilations was increasing markedly. Among the years' better releases was the 'BBC Radio
One Live In Concert' album, featuring live Space Ritual material
The number and quality of archival live album releases gathered pace in 1992. 'The Friday Rock Show
Sessions (Live At Reading '86)', 'Hawklords Live' and 'California Brainstorm' all saw daylight. All were
outshone, however, by Electric Tepee, the new studio album released on Castle (new label) in May 1992.
It was hailed by the fans as the best new album for years. The band were out on the road to promote it on
a UK tour in April/May and, as was becoming customary, played a few UK dates in December.
In April, Hawkwind played on the charity 'Gimme Shelter' EP, covering the Rolling Stones number of that
name, with Samantha Fox, the ex-Page 3 topless model, a surprise choice as vocalist - to widespread
incredulity. Another version of the song, with Richard Chadwick providing the vocals, appeared on the
new studio album It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous (released in October). The album
reflected much of the influence which Hawkwind themselves had had upon the rave scene and was very
different to most of their other work. Incidentally, it was also the last Hawkwind studio album to be
recorded in a commercial studio.
A handful of dates in Holland in April were followed by even fewer summer gigs. However a UK tour in
November was followed by a 12-date tour of Germany and Holland in December.
The 'Emergency Broadcast System' record label was set up in 1994 by Doug Smith. Hawkwind were
sickened by the tendency for every other label to pay them nothing by way of royalties, and the creation of
EBS promised to put that right. The first two releases on the new label were the Quark Strangeness &
Charm EP, and the Business Trip Live CD, both in September.
Hawkwind had also obtained a decent record deal in North America, on the Griffin label; in November,
Griffin released the '25 Years On' compilation boxed set of 4 CD's, to celebrate Hawkwind's 25th
Anniversary. This included the never-before-published Ledge of Darkness comic.
One of the most extensive European tours yet was undertaken in October and November, covering
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Sweden.
Hawkwind's involvement with rave / trance / techno continued with the release of White Zone in February,
under the name of the Psychedelic Warriors. This was done so that the material might get played in clubs
where the name of Hawkwind would prevent it being given a fair hearing. Also released in February was
the Undisclosed Files Addendum CD, featuring live material from 1984 (with Nik Turner, including the
otherwise unavailable 'Damned By The Curse of Man') and December 1988.
Ron Tree had previously written to Dave Brock offering to do the
vocals for Hawkwind - he joined in 1995, giving Hawkwind a
front man for the first time since Nik's departure in 1984. After a
Spring tour of Canada & the USA, the summer was spent
recording the 'Alien4' album. This, plus an EP, was released in
October. Jerry Richards, not yet a member of the band,
contributed a guitar solo to 'Death Trap' on the album. As with
Electric Tepee 3 years before, it was acclaimed as Hawkwind's
best effort for years. The band mounted their traditional Autumn
tour to support the album, this time taking in dates in Germany,
Holland and Belgium as well as the UK: it boasted a big stage show,
reminiscent of the Chronicle or Space Ritual tours.
Other interesting releases in 1995 were an American tribute album
called Assassins of Silence / Hundred Watt Violence - where in the
UK, Hawkwind were being cited as an influence on the rave scene,
in the US they had stirred up an embryonic space rock movement. This is perhaps not surprising given the
number of tours they'd done in the US from 1989 onwards. Dave Brock's 3rd solo album, 'Strange Trips
and Pipe Dreams' also came out on EBS.
A live album, Love In Space, was released in May, recorded on the Autumn 1995 tour. This was part of a
flurry of HW releases, as EMI reissued the first 5 of the classic 70's albums on CD at the same time. EBS
and Griffin were also busy reissuing older material, with titles like Sonic Attack, Choose Your Masques and
Church of Hawkwind appearing on CD for the first time.
Another CD issue was Rituals of the Solstice, a number of trance-oriented remixes of Hawkwind numbers
by bands like Salt Tank and Astralasia. This neatly contrasts the kind of influence Hawkwind had had in
the UK, with the space rock tribute released in the US the year before.
Gigging activity took the shape of an extensive European tour in June and July (preceded by a handful of
UK dates) and sporadic European appearances throughout the rest of the year. It was perhaps surprising
that no UK tour took place with all the new Hawkwind product out there to support. However, another
kind of support made its' debut with Doug Smith's 'Welcome To The Future' website being launched and
billing itself as the official Hawkwind site. (The band did not have editorial control.)
On the personnel front, Alan Davey left the band after 12 years,
and Jerry Richards joined. Ron Tree took over on bass and
Jerry's presence gave Hawkwind a lead guitarist for the first time
since Huw's departure in 1989.
The band played a one-off benefit gig at Blackheath, London, on
June 7th to benefit the homeless - £4,500 was raised. Huw Lloyd
Langton was also on the bill and joined Hawkwind for the encore
- the precursor to his 3rd period aboard the Mothership. A few
festivals were played in the summer, most notably the 1st US
Space Rock festival, 'Strange Daze', in upstate New York.
In the Autumn, the band launched a huge UK tour, which was bedevilled by cancellations. Whether or not
this was caused by a loss of momentum from the failure to tour the UK in 1996, it seemed to mark the
start of a decline in Hawkwind's marketability as a live act. During the tour, the 'Distant Horizons' studio
album was released prematurely by Doug Smith - what was released was drawn from rough tapes, not
finished versions of the material. The band promptly sacked Smith and were self-managed from that point
on. To sound a note in Smith's favour, by the time the album was released, Hawkwind were already
halfway through the tour - without his intervention the tour would have completed without the product it
was meant to be supporting having been released at all! The band also launched their own website,
'Mission Control', although 'Welcome To The Future' continued to be presented (by Smith) as the official
Hawkwind site. Hawkwind Passports were inaugurated too, basically providing an official fan club for the
The best CD release of the year was EMI's issue of the '1999 Party' - a live recording from Chicago, 1974,
featuring 'Hall of the Mountain Grill' era material.
A quiet year, allowing Hawkwind to regroup after the extensive activity of recent times, although this was
not altogether planned. Overtures were made to Doug Smith to bring him back into the fold, but by this
time he was enjoying commercial success with Chumbawumba, and ignored Hawkwind - so the
estrangement continued. An Australian tour scheduled for February, and European dates in May/June
were all cancelled. Hawkwind's only live performance was at the Strange Daze 98 festival - and Ron Tree
and Dave Brock were both refused entry into
the USA. Brock had flown to Canada and was
stranded at Niagara when the US Immigration
authorities refused to let him in. He was
apparently contemplating a river crossing
inside a barrel. An abbreviated version of
Hawkwind nevertheless headlined the festival.
The only recording issued this year (other than
Anthology 1967-82) was a 2-track EP given
away free with the Pink Floyd Encyclopaedia.
This was recorded in Hawkwind's home
studio ('Earth Studios') in August/September
and featured a bludgeoning version of
'Interstellar Overdrive' and a track called
'Hyperdrive Reprise'. The severing of the
managerial relationship with Doug Smith had
torpedoed Hawkwind's use of the EBS record
label, and so they temporarily found
themselves without a means of releasing any
CD's outside of North America, where the
Griffin contract was still in good order.
Griffin Records released a new half-live half-studio album called 'In Your Area' in January. Also that
month, an exclusive live CD 'Hawkwind 1997' was made available to Hawkwind Passport holders only.
This was another quiet year, for what was Hawkwind's 30th anniversary - only 3 gigs were played over
the summer, all fests or conventions (a planned appearance at a Star Trek Convention in
Burton-upon-Trent on June 5th was cancelled). On August 11th 1999 there was a total eclipse of the sun
across Europe, and Hawkwind played the first of 2 sets at a wedding in Cornwall as the eclipse took place.
Again, there was no UK tour, just a handful of dates in November. Several compilation albums, some
unauthorised, were released this year.
The most notable event of the year was probably EMI's release of 2 Hawkwind compilations in September,
to commemorate their 30th anniversary. 'EpochEclipse - 30 Year Anthology' was a 3CD set, and
'EpochEclipse - Ultimate Best Of' was a single CD. Both were enthusiastically reviewed by the mainstream
media, for example the Sunday Times and the Guardian.
At last the pace picked up in the new millennium. Hawkwind finally pulled off a southern hemisphere tour,
visiting Australia and New Zealand in February and March. The New Zealand gigs were somewhat
ramshackle, and Brock commented afterwards that "I did not appreciate having to set up my own gear".
Other members of the band also threatened to go on strike unless they were paid some cash! Australia
was apparently much more organised, and Hawkwind made a TV studio appearance, playing in front of an
audience on the Sydney rock show 'Studio 22'.
The band took some time off after the antipodean tour and began planning their delayed 30th anniversary
show. The promoters enforced a contractual agreement that Hawkwind could not play live ahead of this
show, which was arranged for 21st October at the Brixton Academy (Hawkwind's usual venue for one-off
shows). Rehearsals took place every day in Devon for up to 10 hours at a time, but no warm-up gig could
be permitted. With 30-odd musicians involved, the organisation required was somewhat formidable.
In the run-up to the gig, Hawkfans were treated to a CD reissue of all the Weird Tapes. These were the
first titles to be released under Hawkwind's new deal with Voiceprint Records. Voiceprint also released
Spacebrock, which was billed as a new Hawkwind studio recording, but was in fact a Dave Brock solo
album, mostly featuring re-workings of previously-released material. The first few copies of Spacebrock
were mispressed, using the wrong tracks and running order, and there were some initial problems with
distribution, but the Voiceprint deal offered Hawkwind a great royalty rate and provided a solution to the
impasse created by the divorce from Doug Smith's EBS label.
Hawkwind presumably also made a bit of money during 2000 from the use of 'Silver Machine' in a series
of Mazda car commercials on UK television.
Finally, the 30th anniversary gig took place as
planned, and was known as the Hawkestra. It was
a fabulous occasion marred by poor sound quality.
Tim Blake's renewed association with the band
dates from the Hawkestra, and many ex-members
plainly enjoyed playing with the band again. The
gig was filmed and recorded, but within days
squabbles between band members had broken out,
and neither the film nor the sound recordings have
surfaced since. Plenty of bootlegs have circulated,
but these all seem to have been audience
recordings. The payment that the band received
was also a fiasco, each musician receiving £100 for
their performance, when the gig had generated
£70,000. Legal action against the show's
Hawkwind finished the year off with a Christmas gig at the Astoria, London. Passport holders were
admitted early to get their pick of the merchandise etc, and a post-gig party attended by the band was also
open to passport holders. The gig was recorded for the subsequent Yule Ritual album.
The year started in a low-key fashion, with Channel 4 featuring Hawkwind at number 8 in the Top Ten of
Progressive Rock, in March. (Not bad for a genre they don't belong in!) Various people like Brock, Nik
Turner and Lemmy were interviewed and appeared in the programme. The band went out in the Spring
on four dates, and announced at the same time that Alan Davey and Simon House had both rejoined
Hawkwind on a permanent basis, prompting the return of some mid-70's numbers to the set. Huw Lloyd
Langton also appeared on the bill and guested on stage with the band.
They headlined 2 festivals in the summer - in June, at Donnington, where Meat Loaf was one of the
support bands (!). Donnington was the last appearance of Ron Tree and Jerry Richards, who was
replaced by the return of Huw Lloyd Langton. In August 2001 Hawkwind played a scorching set at the
Canterbury Sound Festival, with Arthur Brown guesting. The performance was recorded for the
subsequent live album of the same name.
Meanwhile, back in Cyberspace, a row broke out between Hawkwind and Doug Smith, when he was
asked to cease calling 'Welcome To The Future' the official Hawkwind site, and to hand over the
Hawkwind.com domain name. Rather than just do this, he pulled the plug on 'Welcome To The Future',
claiming it was done at Hawkwind's request (which it wasn't). However the domain name was returned
to the band and it now points to Mission Control.
In October, the band played as part of the Royal Festival Hall's Psychedelia Festival, and the same month
saw the release of the live Yule Ritual album for the previous year's Christmas show. In November they
at last reinitiated the traditional pre-Christmas UK tour, a great success with a number of sellout
performances. Finally the band fulfilled what has become another tradition, playing a Christmas gig at the
Forum in Kentish Town.
The early months of the year witnessed a simmering feud between Hawkwind and various ex-members,
led by Nik Turner, who were playing gigs as 'the Hawkestra' or 'xHawkwind'. This situation was
exacerbated by unscrupulous promoters who billed Nik's band as simply 'Hawkwind'. The real Hawkwind
took legal action against the promoters of the Guildford Festival, where this had happened, and finally
against Nik in August. Nik's band has since been renamed 'SpaceRitual.net'.
This was happening while Hawkwind were recording a new album at Earth Studios, to be called
'Destruction of the Death Generator'. Recording of the album and negotiations with record companies
(EMI were known to be interested) had to be put on hold while the legal wrangles were resolved.
Hawkwind featured on an EMI sampler called Masters of Rock and also had the 'Live 1990' album
released in June, featuring the TV appearance on 25/1/90 (see 1990 details, above), plus another set from
the Autumn 1990 UK tour.
In May, the UK magazine Record Collector put Hawkwind on the cover and over a 15-page spread inside.
This was their biggest-selling issue ever, and was welcome advance publicity for the 1st Hawkwind
Summer Camp; which took place in July in South Devon, being a festival organised and headlined by
Hawkwind, for Passport Holders only. It was preceded by a warm-up gig at Hastings, which enabled a
few problems to be ironed out: but the festival preparations went awry when a number of fans elected to
go to the Guildford Festival instead - and then called the Hawkwind Summer Camp hotline in desperation
when they discovered it was not actually Hawkwind who were playing at GuilFest. As a result,
attendance at the Hawkwind Summer Camp was reduced from the expected 1,000 to about 500 fans.
None of the bands who played got paid, and Hawkwind seem to have taken a loss on the festival overall -
which in all other respects was very successful. It was announced at the time that Danny Thompson had
rejoined Hawkwind, giving them a 2-drummer line-up for the 1st time since 1975. He did play the Festival
but not at any dates since, which suggests his tenure was extremely shortlived.
Further problems followed in the Autumn with more unremunerative CD
releases, notably Cosmic Overdrive, a 3CD reissue of Bring Me The Head
of Yuri Gagarin, Space Ritual 2 and the Text of Festival. Also appearing
was 'Space Ritual Sundown V2', a reissue of Space Ritual 2 in packaging
very similar to the legitimate Space Ritual Alive album. However they
played a successful date at Wembley Arena on October 19th, supporting
Motorhead, and pulled off a UK mini-tour in December. Simon House
was a notable absentee from the Motorhead support and December tour
gigs, due to illness, but Tim Blake participated in them all instead. BBC
Radio London interviewed the band on Danny Baker's breakfast-time
show on 12th December, which was excellent publicity for the Christmas
gig the following night in Walthamstow. As in previous years, a
band-and-fans Christmas party took place after the gig, and the tour was
enlivened by the guest participation of Arthur Brown at several gigs.
The year started off full of promise, with the band having completed a brief but successful UK winter
tour, and with all legal action seemingly behind them. Fans looked forward to the appearance of the studio
album which had been announced in the first half of 2002, and were further buoyed by an announcement
on the band's website of an exciting addition to the membership of the band and of plans for 2003. Arthur
Brown was described as "currently serving aboard the mothership". On a sadder note, however, another
personnel change was not announced. Huw Lloyd Langton had left Hawkwind halfway through the
December 2002 tour by mutual consent, for family reasons.
As for plans for the year, Hawkwind also announced the resumption of work on and intended release of
the new studio album, a live album from the December 2002 tour, a mini-tour in the Spring and a
compilation album of all the bands who played at the July 2002 HawkFest. All these duly came to pass
(though the studio album still has not surfaced!): some other plans did not.
In March, the second annual private Hawkwind Festival was announced, and swiftly confirmed as
scheduled for 8th-10th August in the north-west of England. Attempts to keep the location secret were
immediately undermined when the fact that it would be held "somewhere near Blackpool" was announced.
Those who recalled 2002's Sonic Rock Solstice festival in just such a locale were able to pinpoint the likely
location for the Hawkfest, but the secret did not leak out. At the same time, May 2003 tour dates were
announced, and intentions of getting the band to Australia, Europe and USA/Canada were aired. What the
band were lacking in recording activity they seemed to be making up for in proposed gigs...one casualty,
though, was an appearance at the War Of The World presentation that had been postponed from August
2002. When further delays were announced, Hawkwind cancelled their appearance and as far as I know
the War of the Worlds production never did get off the ground.
Meanwhile, where was this new studio album? No word on that, but Hawkfest tickets went on sale in
April, Dave Brock's first two solo albums (Earthed To The Ground and Agents of Chaos) were reissued as
a 2-cd set in their entirety, and Godreah Records announced a Hawkwind tribute album to feature alumni
of the band such as Alan Davey, Tim Blake and Huw Lloyd Langton. The biggest flurry of excitement,
though, came when the May 2003 issue of Classic Rock magazine ran a brief article saying that
Hawkwind were about to sign with German label SPV Records. It was confirmed that negotiations were
indeed taking place but the premature announcement of the studio album becoming available in September
2003 was stymied by the fact that band and label never did agree terms, and the contract remained
unsigned. But towards the end of May the mini-tour took place, with gigs at Cambridge, Nottingham,
London, Bristol and Birmingham, all of which saw Simon House back in the band, after missing the Winter
2002 tour due to illness. Hawkwind were also joined onstage at the London Astoria gig by the unlikeliest
of collaborators: Matthew Wright, the Daily Mirror columnist and TV chat show host. He sang Spirit Of
The Age in a WW2 leather flying helmet, and reportedly made a decent fist of it! To coincide with the
tour, Dave Brock and Arthur Brown made a personal appearance at a huge record fair in Olympia on May
25th, but were irritated at the prices being charged for merchandise - so that particular exercise probably
won't be repeated.
Meanwhile, summer was approaching and the band played a private party in June, actually a wedding of
two active members of the fanbase - Arthur Brown officiated at the nuptials! They also arranged a couple
of festival appearances in addition to the long-planned HawkFest. They headlined the Rock'n'Blues /
Custom Bike Show 20th anniversary festival at Donington in July, and were booked for the Kloster
Cornberg festival in Germany on August 16th, with a gig at Amsterdam's Melkweg club to take place a
day later. (The German festival was subsequently cancelled.) In the middle of all this, a sharp-eyed
Hawkfan spotted a pre-release announcement of reissued CD editions of Warrior On The Edge of Time,
Astounding Sounds Amazing Music and Quark Strangeness & Charm. These, along with a new live
recording called Hawklords - Live at Oxford 1978, were ostensibly to be released in August 2003. The
euphoria was shortlived, Hawkwind management confirming a few days later that the announcements had
been made in good faith, but based on bad information - none of these titles were reissued after all. Fans
were somewhat consoled with Voiceprint reissues of two Robert Calvert albums, Hype and Test-Tube
Finally August 8th-10th arrived and the 2nd annual HawkFest took place at Hamilton House Farm, near
Garstang, Lancashire. It was more successful than the inaugural event, attracting about 800 punters
compared with 500 the year before, and was notably better organised. I have described the event
elsewhere and won't do so again here. A week later Hawkwind flew to the Netherlands for their first gig
outside the UK since 2001, and played at the Melkweg club in Amsterdam. The gig was recorded in 24
track (as the HawkFest appearance had been the week before) and so could become an official live release
at some point in the future. In personnel terms, there was a notable change for the Melkweg gig. Keith
Barton, who'd guested at HawkFest, also played at the Melkweg and seems to be in the process of
becoming a fixture :-) Arthur Brown did not travel to Holland with the band, marking the first time he had
not been part of a Hawkwind gig since the appearance at Wembley in October 2002 - providing a reminder
that "currently serving on board the Mothership" does not necessarily imply full membership of the band.
In early autumn, the band turned their attentions to future plans, announcing a single (Spirit Of The Age)
featuring Matthew Wright and Lene Lovich, a forthcoming DVD of the band from the Newcastle date on
the Winter 2002 tour, and that editing of footage from the HawkFest 2003 would result in a DVD at some
stage. As if this wasn't enough by way of DVD's, something more tangible in that format found its' way
into Hawkwind fan's hands when the Love In Space footage was reissued in October. The Godreah
Record Hawkwind tribute also materialised, under the title of Daze Of The Underground... but hopes of a
full-blown traditional Autumn / Winter tour were blown out when the band made clear that "...we are not
now doing an Autumn tour as we have the opportunity to tour with a very well known American
psychedelic band in the spring, with the possibility of producing a joint live CD with them." Instead, a
one-off gig was arranged in Exeter for 25th October, and the usual Christmas party gig at the London
Astoria was booked for 21st December. The band also mentioned that the recording of the new studio
album had in fact been completed, with Arthur Brown and Lene Lovich guesting on it, and the cover was
in the process of being designed in mid-November. Simultaneously they were working on a video to
accompany the planned Spirit Of The Age single and continuing to edit Hawkfest 2003 DVD footage along
with several other projects...such as the 'Collector's Club', a proposed scheme for issuing officially
sanctioned & professionally produced live recordings to hardcore members of the fanbase.
And so 2003 drew to a close with the Christmas gig. Typically for Hawkwind, the line-up was something
of a surprise, with Simon House being absent but Keith Barton present: Arthur's absence was known in
advance, as was the acoustic presence of Huw Lloyd Langton, reportedly looking and sounding much
stronger than on his previous appearance under Hawkwind colours, at the HawkFest 2003. On the night
of the gig the 2002 Walthamstow recording made an earlier-than-expected appearance, and is presumably
the band's latest official release, under the title of "Spaced Out In London". Meanwhile, awaiting release
are the Spirit Of The Age single and video; the DVD of the Walthamstow 2002 gig (maybe); the DVD of
the Newcastle 2002 gig (now expected in March 2004); the DVD from the Hawkfest 2003; a possible live
album from the Melkweg gig in August 2003; a possible 'Hawkwind Friends & Relations' type of release;
and whatever might transpire as part of the 'Collector's Club'...
What kind of year was it? A disappointing one on the face of it, with not enough gigs for most fans'
liking, Huw's reversion to occasional status and the continuing non-appearance of the new studio album,
which has now been "in progress" for nearly two years. But there were a number of reissues to keep the
fans happy, and Hawkwind arranged one-off gigs here and there to compensate the lack of a full-scale
tour. Looking back to the plans announced in January, some came to fruition, and others didn't, as is the
way of the world. One thing the band is not short of is plans for the future and we can probably expect
the same - that much of what is in the pipeline will emerge, but not everything...
Summary (written December 2002)
This brief recent history concentrates on the mundane facts of the last 16 years - where they toured, who
joined and left the band, and significant CD releases. There is little of an anecdotal nature to relate, as I
wasn't paying particularly close attention for most of this period...¦
A few things are evident having put this together. The Hawkwind of the late 80's was very closely
involved with the Free Fest scene, until events destroyed both the scene itself and Hawkwind's association
with it. But the band were in any case entering a new phase of their existence, having reconnected with
their North American audience, and playing several tours there from 1989 through the mid-90's. Their
influence on the American space rock bands is shown by the Assassins of Silence tribute album.
Hawkwind's ability to do this, unfortunately, was brought to an end by the 1998 Strange Daze fiasco, and
there has been no sign since of the band being able to invest the kind of money required for a US jaunt,
when there is uncertainty as to them being able to enter the country.
At the same time as they were influencing Americans in the ways of space rock, Hawkwind were seen as
an influence on 90's rave / trance / techno bands in the UK. A couple of their album releases brought this
influence full circle, and the Rituals of the Solstice UK tribute album made a neat counterpart to the
American tribute of the year before. Although their role as Godfathers of Techno has been diminishing as
that scene has fragmented since the mid-90's, they are still an influence today.
As well as reconnecting with their American audience, Hawkwind also re-established themselves in Europe
with several tours there in the years 1991-96. In the mid-90's, the band basically devoted their energies to
overseas touring, and did not tour at all in the UK in 1996; the 1997 UK tour then suffered a number of
1996-97 seems to have been a watershed, marking a downturn in their fortunes. This is probably due to
the relative lack of new studio material (there has been none of any quality since 1995, IMHO, and none at
all in anyone's opinion since 1998, on "In Your Area"), a loss of momentum in UK touring (or an
unwillingness to be out on the road for long periods) - and the split with erstwhile manager Doug Smith.
Hawkwind are currently self-managed, and have secured excellent royalty rates on their deal with
Voiceprint - however, what they are lacking these days is marketing and distribution. This shows signs of
changing with the prospect of a new record deal and new studio album - but without new material, they
risk becoming their own tribute band, playing their greatest hits at their ever-less-frequent gigs.
This is not to say that everything has been going to hell in a handbasket since the mid-90's. Recent
Hawkwind line-ups have been as strong as any from the band's heyday (e.g with Arthur Brown in the
ranks), with some stunning live performances, easily the best they have done since the 1970's. Since the
late 80's the line-up has in fact been very stable by Hawkwind's standards. At long last Dave Brock seems
to have rediscovered his vision of Hawkwind as a powerhouse rock band, instead of flirting with thrash,
punk, techno and reggae. Other positive factors are the musicianship within the band, the settlement of
legal action against various parties, and the securing of internet resources. All that's needed now is that
elusive record contract and Hawkwind are poised to drive on into the 21st century...
The year started out quietly, as is usually the case with Hawkwind...¦but early in February, dates were
announced for a surprisingly extensive Spring Tour of the UK, with a couple of summer festivals in
Europe being pencilled in as well.
These weren't the only promising announcements. DVD reissues of the 1986 Chaos video and the 1984
Solstice at Stonehenge were indicated, and duly appeared in the spring, along with the brand new 'Out Of
The Shadows' DVD recorded live at Newcastle on the 2002 winter tour. To further whet the fans'
appetite, it became apparent that not one but two major books about Hawkwind would see publication in
2004: Ian Abrahams' "Hawkwind - Sonic Assassins" and Carol Clerk's "The Saga Of Hawkwind". On the
downside, there was a resounding silence on the subject of a 2004 Hawkfest, and in fact nothing
happened on that front this year.
Questions concerning the band's current membership were resolved during the Spring Tour, which
comprised the Brock / Davey / Chadwick trio (HLL was support), starting on 18th April and continuing
into May, taking in dates in Belfast and Dublin. This rare gig outside the UK was followed a couple of
weeks later by two dates in Greece. By this time, however, the band had parted company with their
business manager as well as seeming to have dropped Simon House, Huw Lloyd Langton and Arthur
Brown from the ranks. But this served to facilitate the band's propensity for playing with guest musicians;
Lemmy, Dave Wyndorf and Phil Caivano of Monster Magnet were among those who played on stage with
Hawkwind at the summer festivals in Europe (Swedenrock in June, Ruisrock in Finland in July, and Burg
Herzberg in Germany the same month.)
Meanwhile, there was still a lack of information concerning the band's new single + promo video, and
album. Despite claims in March that the album and single were being pressed, and a suggested
August/Spetember release date being mentioned in June, the only hard evidence was seen when a
30-second segment of the promotional video for the 'Spirit Of The Age' video was previewed on Matthew
Wright's TV show during the summer. That all changed in October when MP3 samples of the new album
tracks were made available on Mission Control. Some of the new numbers have since been rolled into the
live set, and although the release dates still aren't confirmed, at least the existence of the material is beyond
As summer passed into Autumn, both the promised Hawkwind books made it onto the market and
provided the fans with an embarrassment of printed riches. "Hawkwind - Sonic Assassins" and "The Saga
Of Hawkwind" could not have been two more different books, both excellent in their different ways. And
a second UK tour of the year was announced, with a couple of warm-up dates taking place in October and
the rest of the tour spreading across December. This time there was a new keyboard player onstage
(Jason, formerly of Captain Rizz's band) and more on-stage guests like Dumpy and Matthew Wright. The
tour was very well received and the Christmas gig at the Astoria on 19th December seems to have been a
tour de force, hailed even by 30-year veterans as the best Hawkwind gig they'd ever seen.
So despite the continued non-appearance of the new album and accompanying single, the lack of a
Hawkfest, and the departure of several talented musicians, 2004 should be seen as a reasonably successful
year for the band. They played many more, and higher-profile, gigs than they'd managed for a long time,
and enjoyed the presence of several guests on stage along the way. There was a fair amount of product
during the year in the shape of books and DVD's to keep the fans happy between tours. Apparently now
down to a trio once more, there does seem to be greater flexibility in this configuration, and the band have
used it to their advantage. If only they'd get that album out!
One interesting thing to note was that towards the end of the year, Hawkwind issued a statement banning
audience taping and trading of their shows, with mention of the fact that this action had been taken
reluctantly. The reasons have not been made clear, but it has been suggested that negotiations with record
companies have been resumed, and that an announcement may be be due soon (ha!)
At the start of the year, all the usual questions abounded: will there be a Hawkfest? When will the new
album come out? Will the band release a single? And as usual, the fanbase had to wait a while for the
answers, though news of a UK spring tour broke fairly quickly. It was to be preceded by a warm-up gig
in the shape of the Bergenfest in Norway at the beginning of May: rather an early start to the summer
season of European festivals, but this is fortunately an indoor event!
Before this rolled around, the news the fans had been looking for was announced on the band's official
website: firm release dates were given for the "Spirit Of The Age" single (30/8/2005) and "Take Me to
Your Leader" album (12/09/2005). The band also solicited opinion from fans on a preferred regional
location for the next Hawkfest, should it have been possible to arrange on such tight timescales: in the
event, that particular circle couldn't be squared, but the views of the punters were duly noted...¦
Hawkwind headlined the Bergenfest as scheduled and were joined on stage by all four members of the
Norwegian band "WE", who guested on the numbers Brainstorm and Master Of The Universe. And then
the UK tour kicked off 2 weeks later, ingeniously managing include a couple of dates in Finland along the
way. In fact this was a good year for those fans based in continental Europe, with a couple of dates being
added in Germany in June, an appearance at the Dour festival in Belgium in July, and a return to Greece in
early November. UK festival appearances were limited to the Off The Tracks event at Donington in early
September, but by then, other matters were afoot: the "Spirit Of The Age" single had been released on the
This event had been preceded by a campaign called "Chart Trek", conceived and led by Dave of the
Hawkwind Museum website. It was thought there could be a chance of getting the single into the Top 40,
given the participation of TV chat show host Matthew Wright, and the release of the single in two
complementary formats. The effort foundered for various reasons, but the release of the single, and the
new album two weeks later, did seem to push Hawkwind's profile higher than it had been for years. Part
of the overall marketing push saw the band host a launch party for fans and press on 1st September in
Central London, and about 100 lucky fans obtained free tickets thanks to various websites such as
Mission Control, the Hawkwind Museum, and, er...¦the Matthew Wright fansite! Rather greater numbers
benefitted from the band's generosity in providing free promo CD's a couple of weeks before Take Me To
Your Leader was released: it included samples of the tracks from the new album and a web radio
interview with Dave Brock. This wasn't the only radio activity with the band doing sporadic interviews
and getting onto playlists across a range of UK radio stations, spanning everything from BBC regional to
pirate stations, to Sky-based, community, and even Hospital radio!
The album was finally released on 12th September, inclusive of a free DVD with the first 2,000 copies.
Opinion amongst the hard core was generally, but not universally, enthusiastic, with many fans remarking
on the unexpectedly modern-sounding production: the band ascribed the time taken to release the album as
stemming from the need to master the techniques of PC-based recording. Press attention was distinctly
limited, with a few reviews appearing in titles like Classic Rock and Uncut: but sales were healthy,
resulting in Voiceprint's Rob Ayling presenting the band with awards on their December 2005 UK
mini-tour! I don't think they were gold records exactly, but Take Me To Your Leader has apparently been
one of Voiceprint's best moving titles.
One wonders how much better the sales and press might have been had the band toured in support of the
album, instead of leaving a three-month gap before going out on the road again, for an abbreviated
pre-Christmas jaunt consisting of 4 gigs: but perhaps it would have made no difference. The traditional
December dates were as enthusiastically received, and as brilliantly executed as ever, rounding off the year
on a real high note.
So, did Hawkwind have a successful 2005? Undoubtedly yes: this should be seen as the year in which
they finally delivered on the new album and single, although efforts to promote the new product fell short
of being optimal. Less remarked upon has been the consolidation of Jason Stuart into the ranks, with
benefits above and beyond his undoubted musical ability, pushing Dave Brock back into the centre of the
limelight and into new territory as the lead guitarist of what has become much more of a tight-knit band
rather than a loose collective. Considered in this light, Take Me To Your Leader is perhaps the last word
of the band as they were in this first half of this decade, i.e. a trio accompanied by special guests such as
Arthur Brown, Simon House, Huw Lloyd Langton, Lene Lovich etc.. With the release of the album the
band could consider their obligations to the past as having been discharged and strike off in some new
direction. Hawkwind would not still be in existence were it not for their propensity for doing just that, and
the only thing certain about this band is that change is part of its nature...¦
As usual, the year started off quietly with the first item of interest being Dave Brock's interview in Guitar
& Bass magazine (February 2006 issue). Given the nature of the publication, the article was somewhat
geeky in terms of content, but included a number of photos of Dave on stage and in the studio, taken by
John Chase and Rik Rx respectively, along with a decent shot of the 1974 line-up.
This was followed by some news of forthcoming releases in February 2006. Voiceprint announced a
"Hawkwind Audio/Visual project on the radar" - a mini album called Take Me to Your Future, in the new
dual-sided CD/DVD format. Originally slated for a July release, Take Me to Your Future suffered delays
due to errors on the test pressing, finally shipping in September 2006. The audio portion consisted of five
CD tracks (two remakes of old numbers, two Calvert narrations set to music and one outtake from Take
Me To Your Leader) and the DVD content on the flipside was from archival live shows never seen
Another announcement was made concerning a forthcoming release. "Live in Cardiff" apparently was to
have featured a recording from 8th November 1980 at Cardiff Polytechnic. Scheduled for issue in March
2006 on the hitherto unheard-of 'Days Of Glory' label, it turned out to be an illegal bootleg and was never
released. But the fanbase was consoled by the reissue on CD of Weird Tapes 108, with some otherwise
unobtainable material on 20/03/2006.
In April, the band's first live performances of the year took place; a warm-up gig at Exeter Phoenix on the
7th (with Jez Huggett guesting) preceding the first European festival appearance of 2006, at Holland's
Roadburn festival on 22/04/2006. A live recording was made of this performance, as well as it being
filmed for future DVD release ("Spaced Out In Holland") - and in another first, the Hawkwind gig audio
was streamed online at the official Roadburn website.
In May, it was announced that a slew of new Bob Calvert titles were being released by Voiceprint. These
included "Rehearsals 1987 - Radio Egypt", "Middlesborough 1986 - The Right Stuff", "Cardiff 1988 -
Ejection" and "Manchester 1986 - In Vitro Breed". Unfortunately the audio quality of some of these titles
is said to be abysmal, and some fans who had bought these CD's took them back to the retailer for a
Another Calvert item in the offing was the 'Calvert / Brock Project' which has yet to see the light of day,
although two tracks from this did get included in the line-up of Take Me To Your Future.
Whatever the vagaries of Voiceprint's output, the year's strangest release probably came from Apogee
Books - a company run by Griffin Records founder Rob Godwin, long associated with Hawkwind. In
June they issued a children's title "Kids To Space: A Space Traveler's Guide" which came with a CD-ROM
that included an 18-minute medley of Hawkwind called "Space Symphony". This incorporated sections of
"The Secret Knowledge of Water", "Uncle Sam's on Mars" and "Out Here We Are".
Summer festivals were a little thin on the ground this year, with the cancellation of the Villiers Sur Yonne
event on France, which had been scheduled for the first weekend of August. But the band did headline
the inaugural Eastern Haze festival at Somerleyton, Norfolk on 22/07/2006. A subsequent DVD
commemorating the event included an interview with Hawkwind but no footage of their set. But there
was an announcement of another, altogether better festival appearance - early in August, the band
confirmed that there will indeed be a Hawkfest in 2007, taking place on the weekend of 15th-17th June, at
Castle Donington in Derbyshire. And this wasn't all: taking advantage of their newly-launched Hawkwind
Official Myspace page, Hawkwind announced that Passport Holders were invited to the private filming of
a DVD at The Face of Steel at Magna in Rotherham on 18th Dec 2006. This event formed part of the
2006 Autumn Tour, which followed the slightly odd practice of a set of dates in October, with a month's
break, and then a short series of pre-Christmas dates. Covering Northampton, Cambridge, Norwich,
Morecambe, Wolverhampton, Leeds and Derby in October, the band then darted over the North Sea to
play a gig in Amsterdam on 3rd November. Resuming in mid-December at Bangor University, the band
then took in Manchester, Holmfirth, Rotherham, and finally the London Astoria.
In contrast to recent annual tours, the band's line-up featured the core quartet (Brock, Chadwick, Davey,
Stuart) on all the dates, with only Huw Lloyd-Langton making a welcome guest appearance at the tour
finale - the London Astoria gig on 20/12/2006. But in fact, the pièce de resistance was the preceding gig
at The Rotherham Magna - a disused steel mill where the band had arranged a private party for Hawkwind
Passport holders, with a DVD being filmed and the audience dressed up as robots, aliens, clones etc.. The
ticket price of £25 included a copy of the DVD...but disaster struck just three days before the event, when
Voiceprint cancelled it in its' entirety. Not wanting to let their fans down, Hawkwind themselves rounded
up another film crew and set designer (the Magna building is nothing but a shell, I am told) and pulled the
whole thing off in three days, which is nothing short of a bloody miracle, and a fantastic gesture on the
part of band and management, who totally saved the day. But the cancellation put paid to Hawkwind's
relationship with Voiceprint, as was announced at the Magna on the day of the gig. There had already
been problems with distribution and promotion, and everything that was in the works must now have a
question mark over it; the Magna DVD, the Space Bandits DVD, Winter Solstice 2005 DVD, Spaced Out
in Holland DVD (Roadburn 2006) and the Calvert / Brock project CD are all in limbo, pending the band's
Meanwhile, the fans' consensus after the Autumn Tour 2006 dates was that live, Hawkwind just get better
and better, surpassing even the hands-down triumph of the 2005 Winter Tour. With the release of Take
Me To Your Future perhaps representing a clean-out of the Augean stables, the future is once again an
open book. Watch this space!
It was in some ways a quiet year for the band, and in others a tumultuous one. They only played a
handful of dates, but these included the first American gigs in a decade and a welcome return of
Hawkfest...but the big news of the year was the line-up change which saw Alan Davey leave the band (as
of June 10th, according to him - confirmation that he'd "gone fishing" came from Hawkwind a week later)
to be replaced by longtime road crew member Mr.Dibs. This was enough to mark out the 2007
incarnation of the band as musically very different from its' immediate predecessors.
Perhaps the first indication of the change came in March when Alan Davey launched a new solo album,
his own website and Myspace page all at once. But these announcements were almost overshadowed by
the news that there was to be a Hawkfest in 2007, the first one in four years. It duly took place in June at
Castle Donington in the Midlands, and although the weather threatened to sink the event in mud and
standing water, the sun came out for the wedding of Dave Brock and Kris Tait on the Sunday, allowing all
those who'd attended the festival to be guests at the reception if not the ceremony.
The spring had not been without controversy, such as the airing of a potentially contentious documentary
"This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic" on BBC4 in late March. The production was boycotted by the band's
current membership and management, giving the spotlight to former members and associates such as
Michael Moorcock and Nik Turner. However, in the event it turned out to be a balanced and respectful
look at the band's history, rather than a hatchet job. Another springtime renewal came along in the shape
of a relaunch, under new management, of Mission Control. This marked the fifth or sixth incarnation of
the band's official website, which, like that which it honours, has been around for a very long time
perhaps because it constantly evolves...¦unlike some other websites one could mention :-/ As well as
Mission Control itself, the band also launched a separate web forum for the fans, which has swiftly
become an indispensable part of the online Hawkfan experience.
The ship sailed into calmer waters over the summer and autumn, with a well-received series of dates on
the north-eastern seaboard of the USA in June, and a Passport Holders only event in Devon the following
month. There were also a number of exciting archival CD issues, including a remix of the Space Ritual
Alive album in a mixed CD / DVD format. Any hopes of the DVD featuring film footage from the 1972
Space Ritual tour were dashed when it transpired to contain little more than alternative audio formats.
However the CD did unearth a gem in the form of a never-before-released version of You Shouldn't Do
That. Another CD released in the autumn also featured some hitherto unheard live recordings of
Hawkwind in their heyday: a three-disc reissue of the Greasy Truckers Party album included the entire
Hawkwind set from 13th February 1972 at the Roundhouse, inclusive of the unretouched original
recording of Silver Machine with horrible vocals by Bob Calvert.
Calvert aficionados were better served by a mixed media release of Centigrade 232, which paired Bob's
readings of his own poetry with a printed reproduction of the same, in booklet form. In this way his 1977
paperback (also called Centigrade 232) and 1987 audio tape readings were rescued from obscurity, for the
financial benefit of his family. Voiceprint also issued the Brock / Calvert Project CD, which had some
degree of overlap with Centigrade 232 in that it featured Bob's own readings of his poems, but these were
set to a suite of largely electronic music by Dave Brock. This was a highly successful exercise, resulting
in a classic album that was greater than the sum of its parts.
Another release that finally saw the light of day was "Otherworld", the debut studio album by Nik Turner's
Space Ritual, in October. This too was well received, avoiding the pitfall of merely retreading past
(Hawkwind) glories. Nik and crew took to the road to support the launch of the album, but disaster
struck with the theft of almost all the band's musical equipment right at the beginning of the tour. They
carried on undaunted, using borrowed and rented equipment, but sadly have not recovered their property
A mooted mini-Hawkfest in Amsterdam never saw the light of day, but Hawkwind closed the year out
with a short 5-date UK itinerary, featuring a new stage show and dancers, which nevertheless was
shortened to only four dates when the Manchester gig was cancelled at late notice by the venue: nobody
being available to reset a fire detection system that had been triggered by a false alarm. The band were
quick to alert the fanbase to what had caused the problem, and to reschedule the gig (and a couple of other
new dates) for March 2008.
It was also intended that Passport Holders would be able to obtain their prepaid copies of the Space Melt
DVD, filmed at the Magna Steelworks a year previously, from the merchandise stall on the December
2007 tour. Due to a legal hitch to do with the reproduction of the DVD copyright logo, distribution of the
DVD which had started at the Wolverhampton gig was held up, and is still in hiatus at the moment. But as
with the cancelled Manchester gig that was rescheduled with extra value added for the fans, it is expected
that this difficulty will be eased fairly quickly...¦
If the line-up change in 2007 was dramatic (Alan Davey leaving the band in disputed circumstances), that
which took place in 2008 was tragic. Jason Stuart, who'd been playing keyboards with Hawkwind since
2004, shockingly died on 8th September 2008. He had suffered an aneurysm and consequent cranial
haemorrhage. He was just 39. But his passing was not the only reminder of mortality to relate to
Hawkwind this year. John Perrin, their former lighting tech and a member of Liquid Len and the
Lensmen, died in April, at the age of 62.
Before that, it had been shaping up as a good year for the band. A handful of dates were played at the end
of March, one of which was a rescheduled gig from the previous year's December tour: the Manchester
Academy date had fallen victim to the idiotic health-and-safety culture of the modern world when nobody
could be found to turn off a false fire alarm. This time, the alarm either didn't go off, or if it did, someone
who'd been on a three week course was at hand to flick the Off switch. Hoorah! A more tangible
reminder of the December 2007 tour came along at the end of May with the release of separate CD and
DVD versions of Knights Of Space, recorded live at the London Astoria on 19/12/2007. It subsequently
transpired that the lacklustre sound on these titles was caused by a production error, with the film
camera's sound having been used instead of the soundboard recording.
The summer festival season got under way in early June with a headlining appearance at the Hereford
Wyeside Festival, followed a month later by a first for the band, with a trip to the Colours Of Ostrava
Festival at Ostrava in the Czech Republic on 12/07/2008. This would be the first of three planned
European festival appearances, but before that, there was the small matter of the 4th annual Hawkfest to
be taken care of. This took place on a secluded hilltop hideaway just outside Honiton in late July, for
which the only decent weekend weather of the entire summer in the UK was laid on. From the punter's
view it all went like clockwork (thanks to frenzied efforts behind the scenes, no doubt!) but the same
could not be said for Hawkwind's appearance at the Schollenpop 2008 Festival in Scheveningen, Holland
on 02/08/2008. The festival took place as planned, but Hawkwind's set fell victim to bad weather and
they weren't able to perform there at all. Some fans may have been consoled by another headlining
appearance at the Fordham Festival in Cambridgeshire, just 6 days later.
As if the summer wasn't busy enough, news of forthcoming events was coming thick and fast, too. At
the end of July, a sub-label of Voiceprint had been advertising three retrospective live performance
DVD's. Two were reissues of old VHS releases (Treworgy Tree Fayre from 1989, and USA Tour
1989-1990). The third title was Winter Solstice 2005, filmed by a single camera at the London Astoria
Christmas gig in December 2005. Making a greater stir, in early August there was the announcement that
Cherry Red had signed a deal to reissue the entire back catalogue spanning the years from 1976 to 1997
(i.e. excluding the United Artists and Voiceprint material).
In August, it was announced that a memorial event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Robert
Calvert's passing would be held at Herne Bay in Kent, at the end of September. Tied in with this was a
revival of two of Bob's plays, The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice and Cattle at Twilight, at the
Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead. (In fact Cattle at Twilight was being premiered rather than revived.)
The two plays were also performed at the memorial concert, which in the event featured ex-members of
Hawkwind including Nik Turner, Adrian Shaw, Martin Griffin, Steve Swindells, Harvey Bainbridge, Alan
Davey, Jerry Richards and Ron Tree.
It was between the announcement of the memorial concert in mid-August and its' execution at the end of
September that Jason suddenly died. The tie in with Bob Calvert's sudden death at a similarly young age,
two decades previously, only added to the poignancy. Jason's last live appearance with the band had been
at the climax of their summer festival season, headlining the Crescendo Progessive Rock Festival in
Poitou-Charentes, France on 23/08/2008. Little more than two weeks later, he was gone. His funeral
took place in Honiton on 18/09/2008 and the family generously welcomed the attendance of literally
hundreds of fans at the ceremony, for whom the band afterwards held a reception.
There was of course an ensuing period of quiet and uncertainty while the loss was absorbed but after a
time it was announced that the UK tour scheduled for December 2008 would go ahead as planned. Along
the way a few more new CD releases were announced, including retrospective live recordings Minneapolis
1989 and Reading 1992 on the Hawkwind Direct website (the Voiceprint subsidiary) to accompany the
three DVD's they had issued in the summer. Another sub-label, Atomhenge Records, was the vehicle
designated for the Cherry Red back catalogue reissues, and their first titles were announced for October
2008. These were two 3CD boxed set compilations, aimed more at casual buyers than hardcore fans, but
well received by the latter, nonetheless. Last and most definitely least, was the appearance of "Return of
the Legendary Space Raiders" on the Fuel 2000 label in November 2008. This was a dubious-looking
recompilation of material that had already been reissued on Shakedown Records' 2003 "Welcome To The
Future". But over the course of the year, the appearance of ten new Hawkwind titles (four DVD's and six
CD's) was quite a testament to their ongoing popularity and relevance.
The year closed out on a triumphant note with the surprise recruitment and appearance of Niall Hone (ex
Tribe Of Cro) on the 12-date UK tour in December. Included in this was a final festival appearance of
2008, at the Hard Rock Hell event in Prestatyn, North Wales. Gone are the days when Hawkwind would
be booed and pelted at heavy metal festivals. The consensus being that the two-guitar line-up with Niall
on board has rendered the current version of the band as the hardest and heaviest in many a year, they
fitted in perfectly at Prestatyn and garnered rave reviews at all the other gigs on the December tour.
Looking back, 2008 was a year of increasing success and should have been a triumph - but it will no
doubt be remembered for the tragedy of Jason Stuart losing his battle for life on 8th September. R.I.P..
Dreadful as this was, Hawkwind have withstood losses on such a scale before, and the band carry on into
their 40th year, with a mooted revisitation of the In Search Of Space concept to look forward to in 2009,
along with thirty-odd albums to be reissued by Atomhenge, and a new direction to explore...
In the throes of Hawkwind's barnstorming UK Winter 2009 tour, someone remarked that the current line-
up is gelling into a very powerful live act...¦which might seem an odd thing to say, given that they (Dave,
Richard, Dibs, Niall, Tim) have been together for a year. But on the December tour, Hawkwind were
joined by guest violinist Jon Sevink of the Levellers, and the consensus among the fanbase is that this
seemed to lift the live experience to new levels...¦ The eleven dates that Hawkwind played around the UK
in the run-up to Christmas set the seal on a fairly busy year, taking in 25 gigs, which were distributed
between two UK tours (the other was in April / May) and a number of summer festivals - four in July &
August, the best of which was probably their headlining appearance at the Beautiful Days festival.
However, this being Hawkwind's 40th anniversary year, such occasions were overshadowed by the
celebratory happening at Porchester Hall in Bayswater, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Group X
having first performed at All Saints Hall on the 29th August 1969, they were back in the old
neighbourhood (near enough) exactly four decades on, turning in a couple of superb performances and
making a real occasion of it...¦the all-day nature of the event was rounded out with various Hawkwind-
connected support acts, such as the Elves of Silbury Hill, who featured the Captain playing harmonica for
the first time since Hawkwind's very early days. Well-wishers included luminaries such as Bruce
Dickinson, David Gilmour and Eric Clapton (only the first of these in person!) and, at the other extreme,
there were several special guests treading the boards such as Bob Kerr, Matthew Wright, the keyboard
player from Dr. and the Medics and the surprise reappearance, after a 7 year absence, of Captain Rizz!
But perhaps the keynote event of the whole occasion wasn't part of the official schedule at all: the
Hawkwalk, a guided Hawkwind-themed tour around Notting Hill put together by the estimable Jimski, was
attended by about 25 fans, and took place at lunchtime on Saturday 29th August. This really captured the
ethos of Hawkwind at least as well as some of the stuff going on inside the hall.
A rather different revival also finally got off the ground at the 3rd attempt - billed as "Hawklords", Nik
Turner, Danny Thompson, Jerry Richards, Ron Tree, Steve Swindells, Alan Davey, Adrian Shaw and
Harvey Bainbridge performed at a small club in central London at the end of November. The show was
titled as the Barney Bubbles Memorial gig and featured the usual sorts of things that Nik puts on at these
set pieces: an appearance by ICU, the Pentameter players performing Bob Calvert's plays, well-stocked
merchandise stall etc.. Though the occasion had had to be scaled down from the initial scheduling in
March at the reopened Roundhouse, and an additional subsequent cancellation. The set list apparently
lived up to the Space Ritual '09 theme (a third element to add to the already unfocused quality of the
concept and marketing). But maybe the best thing was hearing that Simon King had shown up backstage â
€“ he was invited to play but unfortunately didn't / doesn't these days.
Perhaps not so much in celebration of Hawkwind's 40th year as by serendipity, Atomhenge Records'
reissue programme gathered pace, with several titles being released in fabulously augmented form. After
the initial offering of two 3CD compilations in late 2008, Atomhenge hit their stride in January 2009 with
reissues of Live Chronicles, 25 Years On, Electric Tepee and Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music. Two
months later these were followed by Quark, Strangeness and Charm, PXR5 and Live 79, and in June,
Hawklords Live 79, Chronicle of the Black Sword, and Love In Space all got the treatment. Atomhenge
also reissued some solo works by erstwhile band members, notably Steve Swindells' Fresh Blood in July
2009. Robert Calvert albums Freq and Captain Lockheed & The Starfighters (Nov 2009) were re-released
too, but the Hawkwind output did not diminish entirely, with the splendid 3CD issue of the classic
Levitation album at the end of September. And to quote Atomhenge themselves, "...¦we will be
recommencing with Hawkwind Atomhenge titles in February and expect to do a further 6 titles by June /
That's not all that is coming. In an interview given on the December tour, Dave Brock mentioned the
imminent recording of a new studio album, to be called The Crystal Entity, with a tie-in to Mayan calendar
/ 2012 themes. (Of course, at the beginning of the year, there had also been talk of the new studio album,
which at that time was described as a revisitation of the concepts of the "In Search Of Space" album - the
return to earth, that sort of thing...¦) The same interview also gave an update on the Hawkwind Holidays
idea that had provided mainstream media like the BBC a good hook in covering the band's 40th anniversary
- a theme that carried through to the end of the year. Hawkwind performed well in two categories in
Planet Rock's End of Year poll. The Porchester Hall gigs came 4th in â€œEvent of the Year", seeing off
Neil Young who'd played to 80,000 people at Glastonbury. And in the "Reissue / Box Set of the Year"
category, the Atomhenge remasters came second to AC/DC's Backtracks, but ahead of names such as ZZ
Top, Pearl Jam, Def Leppard, King Crimson, Genesis and Neil Young (again).
So 2009 goes down as a successful year for the band, buoyed as they were by their 40th anniversary
celebrations. A couple of dates having already been arranged for the spring, with the additional
Atomhenge reissues and the prospect of a new studio album, there is certainly enough to keep the
momentum going into 2010. Onward flies the bird!
It would almost be possible to take the entry for 2009 and just change a few words to accurately tell the
story of Hawkwind's doings in 2010. As with the previous year, proceedings were dominated by the
band's continuing 40th anniversary, a handful of UK dates in the Spring, a scattering of festivals over the
summer, more Atomhenge CD reissues, and a storming Winter tour in December to close out the year -
complete with guest appearances by Jon Sevink of the Levellers, adding violin to the band's live sound.
That does not tell the complete story, however. The most notable event of the year was the release of a
new studio album, Blood of the Earth. It had been five years since the last one, which had been recorded
by a different line-up (featuring Alan Davey and Jason Stuart). BotE saw the Brock / Chadwick / Dibs /
Hone / Blake roster stamping their own character on the band's sound and material. The broadly positive
response from the fanbase was mirrored by good reviews in the mainstream media, including such unlikely
organs as the Daily Telegraph. The ensuing
nationwide tour to support the album was similarly
acclaimed, and culminated in a triumphant
Christmas show at the HMV Forum in Kentish
Town, London. For this the band were joined on a
couple of numbers by Captain Rizz, whose
appearances in association with Hawkwind had
restarted in 2009 and continued in 2010, as if to
emphasise that their 40th anniversary was still
ongoing. But the high point of that had been the
2010 Hawkfest, held at the end of August at Afton
Down on the Isle of Wight. This was really a
double anniversary with Hawkwind having played
there exactly 40 years before, at the 1970 Isle of
Wight festival, and also marking the completion of
their banner year which had commenced at the
Porchester Hall gig 12 months previously. And it
wasn't the only such set-piece occasion, with the 'Psychedelic Sundae' event in early May having included
friends and relations like Krankschaft, Man and the resurgent Huw Lloyd-Langton. The members of
Hawkwind even returned to the same venue, a week later, to support Here & Now under their alter-ego
identity, the Elves of Silbury Hill.
As with the Porchester Hall event the year before, the Psychedelic Sundae was essentially an indoor
festival. However there were a number of outdoor festivals that the band headlined, beside the Hawkfest.
Among these were Guilfest in July, just one day after Hawkwind had topped the bill (well nearly, who is
Jeff Beck, after all?) at the prestigious Burg Herzberg event in Germany. There was also an appearance in
France at the Rock Knights festival in August. But perhaps the most unusual of the summer one-offs was
a gig they played in Carnglaze Cavern in June - Hawkwind returning to their underground roots, perhaps.
The reissues of Hawkwind CDs continued with Atomhenge putting out numerous titles, many with
extensive bonus tracks. Among them were Sonic Attack, released in February and Church of Hawkwind
coming out in April. Alien 4, a Harvey Bainbridge solo album and The White Zone kept the engines ticking
over until the autumn when Space Bandits and Choose Your Masques were re-released with bonus disks.
Recent communications from Atomhenge indicate there will now be a hiatus with no further
Hawkwind-related releases for a while, but they will resume in April - along with some Dave Brock solo
albums, it seems.
Perhaps surprisingly, the success that Hawkwind enjoyed in 2009 seemed to plateau on throughout 2010,
which might have been expected to be a quieter year for the band. It remains to be seen whether this can
continue, but with an Australian tour lined up for the Spring, they show no signs of slowing down.