|Wind Into Space
This (possibly incomplete) article was retyped from a digital photo of a press clipping - many thanks to
Wilfried Schuesler for sending it to me. It evidently comes from a July 1972 issue of Sounds
Hawkwind, back from some continental and English cruising, had dropped by at their record company and
were looking amiable and relaxed, though threatening to duff up the SOUNDS man who they reckoned had
slagged them off for their performance at the battle of Bickershaw. Fortunately, I had a cast-iron alibi as I
had not arrived when they played their set, so it was back to laughs.
Now the sight of your friendly neighbourhood head band striking poses amongst the dancing girls of â
€œTop Of The Popsâ€� may indeed seem a far-fetched idea. But Hawkwind, to their surprise, have
discovered that the â€œSilver Machineâ€� single -a sort of advance taste of their dramatic space opera
project- is actually creeping (not yet zooming) into the charts. Plus our major rock and roll programme
viewing an appearance from the band with a favourable eye â€“ that really was too much.
They did not feel that it was quite their mark â€“ and anyway, a group which relies on audience reaction and
uses a lot of complicated electronic effects could so easily die the death in the strictly controlled atmosphere
of a TV recording studio. So what they settled on was a film taken at a live gig. Last week saw them
heading for Dunstable with a camera crew in tow to record their TV spot, inside the acoustically brilliant
wooden eggshell of the townâ€™s Queensway Hall. The results you will have to wait for.
Not that Hawkwind are making a last desperate rush to the hurdle of stardom. Nik still figures that if heâ
€™s got enough bread not to have to think about it any more, heâ€™s OK. And as for fame, well
everybody recognizes Hawkwind, donâ€™t they? You could hardly miss Nik in his space-captain leather
outfit and Tartar beard. What is more important, they are still a working band and put in the hours on the
road, on good nights and on bad nights, exhilarated or brought-down, in Dunstable or Dusseldorf or
wherever else freaks are gathered together to catch some music. Recently they tripped around Europe
taking in Amsterdam, Berlin and Rome followed by a quick visit to Denmark. As usual they had returned
with a mixture of good and bad impressions adding up to an entertaining collection of histories.
Amsterdam saw them on the opening night of the tour at the famous Paradiso, â€œnot what it used to be, a
lot of people have a very low opinion of it now,â€� says Nik, â€œalthough itâ€™s still a nice gig.â€� A
new gig has started there called the Milky Way and the band describe it with a disbelieving laugh as â€œa
government-run place for heads.â€�
Then on to a late-nighter in Dusseldorf, five in the morning at a festival in a covered stadium. â€œWe were
working at a different time-level, everybody was lying down in sleeping bags on this huge great floor â€“
there was hardly anybody standing up. It was like going to a normal gig where everybody was laying down,
â€� comments Del, stirring himself like a bearded dormouse from his corner. Then they trucked on
through to Berlin, and a little tourism on the side for some who made it to Leipzig in East Germany â€“ â
€œall red flags out and â€˜Free Angela Davisâ€™ posters,â€� according to Dave. Del was doing the
driving of one of the cars and with conflicting opinions from his couple of navigators succeeded several
times in missing the through autobahn and landing up in the open countryside where the East Germans stand
and stare at any passing car. They found Hawkwind quite a spectacular sideshow, too.
Meanwhile Nik had taken another car and gone ahead to Berlin, met up with old friends and when the whole
band was finally gathered together in one place, quite a party was had with the Canâ€¦ and then on down to
Rome. A brief silence, then as one man everybody in the room gives a reflective â€œyeahâ€¦â€� and bursts
â€œWe played this huge pop festival, and there were thousands and thousands of people there and it was
really hot. No chicks, and they really go berserk over thereâ€¦about fifty, a hundred guys chased Stacia
after she finished dancing, she jumped into the car and all those who were pursuing her started rocking it,
trying to get in at herâ€¦we all carried coshes in our back pockets, â€˜cos theyâ€™re very excitable out
there, you knowâ€¦so many guys kept getting up on stage and ripping gear off,â€� tells Dave, who
certainly does not look like a seven-stone weakling. â€œAll the gear on the stage was nailed down,â€� puts
in Del from the floor. They still seem to remember enjoying the gig, though, not least because the local
communist party paper had written them up as the heroes of the show.
Apart from the mammoth show in Rome, small audiences awaited them elsewhere in Italy and there was
only one moment when disaster looked near, when the roadies phoned through an hour before a gig in
Trieste to tell the band that the van with all the equipment was broken down a few hundred miles down the
road. So with that flair for improvisation, they borrowed the Italian support bandâ€™s toy PA and still put
on a show. They blew it up finally, but not before everyone had had a good time.
Back to England and the silver screen. â€œSilver Machineâ€� is just a foretaste of the whole space opera,
which is still in the planning stage. But itâ€™s definitely going to be a live show, as they donâ€™t feel that
records are as useful a means of communication as the live appearance. There is talk about recording it live
â€“ which will surely be a feat of engineering â€“ but at the moment the band is into holidaying after their
Hopefully Bob Calvert the Space Poet will have his head together soon and will rejoin the band. Meantime itâ
€™s he who has the most nearly complete project under way. It will be known as Captain Lockheed and
his Starfighters â€“ the ones that crashed with appalling regularity. The cash is to go to the widows of the
pilots who died: â€œBob feels himself to be the one-winged hero, thatâ€™s his trip,â€� says Nik, and
helping him out in his thoughts as he spirals down to the ground will be Viv Stanshall, Arthur Brown and
Which way for Hawkwind, then?