|Warriors into Extra Time
This article appeared in Sounds on November 7th, 1980.
The Hawkwind saga by Dave Brown
It was inevitable that one day the rest of the world would catch up. For years they had carried on
regardless of the criticisms and cries of "uncool" and continued unswayingly along their predestined
route. Then suddenly there was much gnashing of teeth and wailing of guitars as heavy metal once
more joined the ranks of what is considered to be hip. And there was a further renewal of interest in the
world of psychedelia (which had been stored in suspended animation since the 'sixties).
At last the time seemed right and the world was ready for them. Those who had at one time turned
away now turned their heads in amazement. Those who had pointed fingers of scorn now welcomed
them with open arms. The masters of the universe were here. Now was the time for (sound of a
spaceship starting its engines, a loud crack of thunder and other loud FX)... HAWKWIND!
From the depths of Devon they came to claim their title and show these new whippersnappers what
hard rock was all about. And their legion of loyal fans were ready to spread the word.
Yup, quite a lot has happened to Hawkwind since they last appeared in these columns about 18 months
ago (in a mammoth Pete Frame family tree). About that time they entered a deep decline and at one
point seemed on the brink of disappearing completely up their own vapour trail. The change of scene
and a new awareness of HM has done the band a power of good, but their own unerring belief, in
particular that of Commander Brock, meant they were ready to return when the time was right.
There have -needless to say- been various personnel changes in the band and the various offshoots have
not been idle. The following is an attempt to bring the picture up to date, including the main activities of
the satellites. But first we must consider the Mothership:
The place is the Roundhouse Studios, Chalk Farm, where Dave Brock relaxes as they put the finishing
touches to their new 'Levitation' album. What happened after the departure of vocalist Bob Calvert and
the return to the name Hawkwind (following their brief incarnation as Hawklords)?
"Not a lot." Dave was blunt. Hawkwind's alter-ego band the Sonic Assassins were a bit more
productive, but not much. "The Sonic Assassins was the same lineup as the Hawkwind lineup of the
time but with Martin Griffin on drums, instead of Simon (King). The idea of the band was for us to go
out and play free festivals for the fun of it. The band has no room for tantrums and ego trips. Today
the free festivals are very together, not like they used to be. We play a different set though much of the
material is common to either band, but it can be more free range. You're not obliged to put on some
sort of show and there's no fear of reprisals. We even hump our own gear."
In May 1979 they released 'PXR5' which was end of their commitment with the Charisma label and left
the band without a recording deal for the first time since November 1969. "PXR5 was a bodge-up of
bits and pieces - a final flushing of the toilet at Charisma," Dave laughs. "There were a lot of bad scenes
at the time. I think they were pleased to see the back of us and us of them."
The band hit hard times and Steve Swindells decided to return to a solo career (though in typical
Hawkwind ancestral family tree tie-ups, Steve employed Huw Lloyd Langton and Simon King to play on
his solo record which ended up competing with the band's release!). For a time Hawkwind was Dave
Brock and bassist Harvey Bainbridge "getting it together" in rural Devon. Dave called Tim Blake, whom
he knew through Gong etc., to fill the keyboards-seat vacant since the departure of Swindells. He also
called on the services of guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton, who had been in Hawkwind during the
Huw takes up the tale: "Although I hadn't been in the band for about ten years it didn't take me long to
make up my mind to come back - it was like I had never stopped being involved. I originally gave it up
because of continued bad health, not because of personalities or anything like that. You could say I
needed a bit of a rest!" (Ten years?)
So, what had he done since September 1970?
"I did a lot of session work and played in a few bands. I was in Batty Mademoiselle, but didn't record
with them. I did play the Commonwealth Institute Festival of Black Music with that band, they were
very good musicians. Also I was in Widowmaker for a time. It was good experience, that's all you can
put it down to. Many of the bands I've been in aren't worth a mention. I taught guitar in school once a
week for nine months. Then Master Brock called and asked if I was interested in joining the band and I
said something remarkably original like 'Why not?'"
It should be mentioned that Huw was also involved in a little band called Jawa with drummer Simon
King and former Van Der Graaf Generator bassist Nic Potter. The trio backed Steve Swindells on his
recent solo material.
But now back to the plot: A new lineup of Hawkwind was ready with Brock and Huw on guitars,
Harvey on bass, Simon on drums and Tim on keyboards. After a couple of weeks rehearsing they took
to the road in September 1979. "It seemed a bit risky," Dave admits. "We had no record deal and there
was no advance publicity but it was a virtual sellout. It was very successful, except commercially. The
roadies got paid more than the band."
So what happened next?
"We all went home. Nothing happened - an unprecedented occurrence in the history of the band. So, I
decided to work on getting a record deal. Though all I had to offer were some live tapes of the tour,
which saved our lives."
Dave took the tapes and had them re-mixed and started the rounds of the record companies. Of the five
companies that jumped, they decided to sign with Bronze. "It's a pretty together little company," Dave
reckons. "And they've proved they can do it with the 'Live' album, which shows we can do it if the
company are with us."
Following the release of the 'Live - 1979' album in August, Charisma issued a "best of" compilation in
September and the new studio album 'Levitation' is just out on Bronze - an expensive time for the fans.
During the earlier stages of recording the new album I'd asked Dave if, considering the success of the
'Live - 1979' album (which made number 15 in the LP charts), and the two packed-out performances at
London's Lyceum, whether this lineup was likely to last? At one time he merely said "You never know"
with one of his wicked grins. But only days later came the news that drummer Simon King had been
sacked from the band. Ginger Baker was then drafted in to re-do all the drum parts for the 'Levitation'
sessions and he was asked if he wanted to join Hawkwind for the tour. After a brief flirtation with
Atomic Rooster, Ginger agreed to throw his drumsticks in with the Hawkwind mob and thus opens a
totally new chapter in the continuing strange career of the band.
Will Dave Brock record his threatened solo album?
Will Bob Calvert appear on BBC2's 'Book Programme'?
Will Cream reform with Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge?
Will housewife superstar Stacia make a comeback and make Al Lewis's eyes water again?
All this and more will be revealed in time (and space).
STOP PRESS: Surprise, surprise, half way through their current UK tour keyboards player Tim Blake
left the band and was replaced by Keith Hale.
Hawkwind's distinctive vocalist/poet between 1972 and 1979 departed in January of the latter year. He
has been working on a book called 'Hype', set in the wicked world of rock, which is published by New
English Library in the New Year. He is looking for an album deal for a parallel record project to 'Hype'.
Calvert fans will doubtlessly possess the odd green flexi disc of 'Cricket Star' (Wake Up Records WUR
5), but it is hopefully to reappear along with 'Howzat' on Flicknife Records in the near future.
The former Hawkwind sax-blower recently announced at a Liverpool gig: "I hope all you people who
came along to see Hawkwind are going to go away disappointed." It appears he is none too keen on the
ex-Hawkwind tag. His current band, Inner City Unit, did at one time feature two Hawkwind numbers
'Brainstorm' and 'Master of the Universe', but they went in a recent purge. Inner City Unit did at least
get a fair hearing when they supported Hawkwind at the Lyceum, which is more than can be said for
the other bands on the bill (except Hawkwind of course). Nik describes Inner City Unit's music as
"High energy future shock horror rock", which just about sums it all up. If he ever gets broke Nik
intends to change the name to Inter City Unit and flog it to BR's Sir Peter Parker.
Lemmy, bassist in Hawkwind from 1971-75, set up the definitive HM trio in Motorhead. Regular
readers of these columns need no introduction or reminding of the new LP and tour (so why did I
The current keyboards player with Hawkwind has appeared on LPs by Gong, Clear Light, Sphynx and
others and has two solo albums available on import.
The famous science fiction author appeared regularly as a guest with Hawkwind in the mid-seventies
and was featured on the 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' album. He released an album with his band
Deep Fix in May 1975 'New World's Fair' (UAG 29732) and a single recorded at that time has just
emerged on Flicknife Records. It is 'Star Cruiser' B/W 'Dodgem Dude' and features guests including
Nik Turner and Simon King. Michael Moorcock has recently been working on the remake of the film
'Ivanhoe' in America.
Steve played keyboards for Hawklords between 1978 and '79 before going solo. He played some tapes
of material to the head of America's Atco label, who was impressed and signed a deal. With Simon
King on drums, Huw Lloyd-Langton on guitar and Nic Potter bass, he put together an album 'Fresh
Blood' which is expected to be released here soon. It is already available in the US and parts of Europe