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Members include Dave Brock (born in Isleworth, England), guitar; DikMik Davies (born Michael Davies in Richmond, England), keyboards; John Harrison, bass; Terry Ollis, drums; Mick Slattery, guitar; Nik Turner (born in Oxford, England), horns, vocals. Other members have included Dave Anderson, bass; Harvey Bainbridge, drums; Ginger Baker, drums; Bob Calvert (born in Pretoria, South Africa; died of a heart attack, 1988), vocals; Thomas Crimble, bass; Del Dettmar, keyboards; Martin Griffiths, drums; Simon House, violin, keyboards; Simon King, drums; Huw Lloyd Langton, guitar; Lemmy (born Ian Kilmister on December 24, 1945, in Stoke-on-Trent, England), vocals; Paul Rudolph, vocals; Stacia, dancer; Bridgette Wishart, vocals. Addresses: Record company--EMI America Records, 810 7th Ave., New York, NY 10019. Website--Hawkwind Official Website: http://www.hawkwind.com.
Venerable British metal band Hawkwind have enjoyed a cult following almost from their rather shaky start in 1969. Nearly 40 musicians have been a part of the Hawkwind lineup at various points, with some succumbing to what was said to have been the band's penchant for illicit substance abuse; others went on to join or form more commercially successful acts. Hawkwind were said to have been one of the main inspirations for the overly resilient, mishap-plagued fictional metal band in the 1984 mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. One British music writer, Andrew Cowen, termed them "a national institution" in a Birmingham Post article. "Theirs is a simple formula: jamming for an eternity around a simple riff or chord sequence, usually singing about space flight or future armageddon," Cowen wrote. "Their heyday may have been in the mid-70s but Hawkwind have uniquely been reinvigorated by subsequent musical revolutions."
The core members of Hawkwind include guitarist/singer Dave Brock, a one-time street busker who knew fellow rock guitarist Mick Slattery from playing in a band called Famous Cure. In 1969 Famous Cure toured Holland with Mobile Freakout and became friendly with its saxophonist and flute-playing singer, Nik Turner. The trio formed as Group X back in London, with a bass player, drummer, and keyboardist; after changing their name to Hawkwind Zoo and then finally just Hawkwind, the band signed to the United Artists label. At this point another longtime member, Huw Lloyd Langton, replaced Slattery in just one of what would become perennial lineup changes in the band.
Hawkwind's first single, "Hurry on Sundown," was released in July of 1970, and they gained infamy for playing outside the fences at the legendary Isle of Wight Festival a month later. Another longtime, off-again, on-again member, poet Robert Calvert, joined in June of 1971, and the band soon added more members to its lineup, including a dancer named Stacia who sometimes appeared topless. Their live shows attracted a cult following, with long, drawn-out improvisations on songs that became the standard-bearer for both the "art" and "space" rock genres of the era. Members of Hawkwind were fans of science-fiction writer Michael Moorcock, who enjoyed a cult following himself at the time, and Moorcock became an occasional if unofficial manager, sometimes even singing in Calvert's place.
Perhaps the most famous of all ex-Hawkwind singers, however, was Lemmy. Born Ian Kilmister in England, he once worked as a roadie for Jimi Hendrix and joined the band in mid-1971. Under him, Hawkwind would enjoy their briefest dalliance with genuine commercial success. Their second LP, In Search of Space, sold more than 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom and is considered by fans a seminal effort; "Masters of the Universe" remains one of the band's signature tunes. Yet it was the single "Silver Machine" that gave Hawkwind their first true hit, reaching number three on the British charts. An homage to motorcycle culture, the song's "beauty derives from its use of the phaser, an effects pedal for electric guitar in common usage at the time and which brought a strange, looping sound to heavy rock," described Guardian writer Charlie English; on the track, English continued, Hawkwind deployed the phaser "to produce a whooshing, rushing-wind effect, much like that of a passing astral motorcycle."
The near-comic mishaps that Hawkwind endured since their first years--much of their gear was stolen once; another time it was impounded by Indiana authorities on tax-evasion charges--along with the instability of their constantly changing lineup continued. Their next single, "Urban Guerrilla," was withdrawn from airplay by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) when a wave of bombings by suspected members of the Irish Republican Army occurred in London. Their third LP, Doremi Fasol Latido, was released in November of 1972, and with it their devoted fan base continued to grow. Hawkwind stage shows became sheer spectacle, with strobe lights, fog, and even a moniker--the "Space Ritual." That was also the name of their acclaimed double-live LP, released in June of 1973.
By 1973 the band was also garnering a fan base in North America. Hawkwind's fortunes again nosedived, however, when Lemmy was arrested by Canadian authorities during a 1975 tour for drug possession. Fired from the band for it, he went on to form Motörhead--which was named after a Hawkwind single--one of metal's most successful bands. Hawkwind never seemed to recover from the loss of the compelling frontman. More lineup changes followed, and Calvert, addled by a delusion that he was Jesus Christ, left the band as well after the 1977 release of Quark Strangeness and Charm.
Adding to the confusion over Hawkwind's ever-changing lineup, Calvert formed a new group called the Hawklords with Brock and others, but by early 1979 the offshoot had picked up the Hawkwind name again. Langton also rejoined for a time, as did former Cream drummer Ginger Baker for a few months in 1980. Brock remained the band's steadiest member, and the penchant for space themes and sci-fi references endured. "Our music often has a metal edge and remains experimental," he once told the authors of Cult Rockers. "It can be frightful. The music moves, you know, like a ship--a spaceship--sailing along the seas from one setting to another. Like life itself, it's all alike."
During the rest of the 1980s, Hawkwind released more epic space-rock albums that sold moderately well. Guardian writer Tim Cumming described the band as "outsiders from the start, hippie anomalies in love with improvisation and chaos the way punks would be a few years later: concentrating less on musical virtuosity than on the one chord, the lost chord, and drawing it out to cosmic dimensions. Hawkwind begin where other bands fade out, picking up a riff and driving it into deep trance territory." Somewhat less charitably, Hawkwind were spoofed in the 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap--one of the characters sports muttonchops reminiscent of Lemmy's, the band in the film cannot keep a drummer, and the fictional band performs at Stonehenge, as Hawkwind had also done.
Hawkwind still had a dedicated following, however, and fans began to assemble at yearly conventions. The band still toured and even delved into electronica with a 1990 LP called Space Bandits. This album helped launch a resurgence of interest in their music among a younger generation inside Britain's burgeoning rave scene, and Hawkwind began to play at large outdoor music festivals again. In 2001 they performed at London's venerable Royal Festival Hall, an event at which British tabloid celebrity/occasional pop singer Samantha Fox reprised the role of Stacia, the onstage dancer. The band even began donating a portion of record sales to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other environmental-aid charities.
Moorcock was still occasionally involved in Hawkwind, performing with them when they played near his hometown of Austin, Texas. Brock, still the pivotal member of Hawkwind, has never tired of delivering genial interviews to music journalists. As he told Birmingham Post journalist Cowen, "We're still a cult band and we're very erratic. Sometimes we're good, sometimes we're bad." He also pointed out that while watching footage of a Paris fashion show, he heard one of Hawkwind's classic songs, "Ten Seconds of Forever," used as runway music. "In the '70s, we were lampooned for only playing three chords but we were using dance beats even then," Brock told Cowen. "We're basically still playing the same sort of music. It comes in and out of fashion."
by Carol Brennan
Group formed in England as Group X, 1969; signed to United Artists, 1969; released debut LP, Hawkwind, on One Way label, 1970; single "Silver Machine" reached number three on U.K. charts, 1972; group disbanded, 1978; re-formed, 1979; continued to record and perform, 1980s-.
- Selected discography
- Hawkwind One Way, 1970.
- In Search of Space One Way, 1971; reissued, EMI, 2001.
- Doremi Fasol Latido One Way, 1972; reissued, EMI, 2001.
- Space Ritual United Artists, 1973; reissued, EMI, 2001.
- Hall of the Mountain Grill (live), One Way, 1974; reissued, EMI, 2001.
- Warrior on the Edge of Time Atco, 1975.
- Road Hawks United Artists, 1976.
- Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music Charisma, 1976.
- Quark Strangeness and Charm Sire, 1977.
- Masters of the Universe United Artists, 1977.
- PX-5 Charisma, 1979.
- Repeat Performance Charisma, 1980.
- Levitation Castle, 1980.
- Sonic Attack RCA, 1981.
- Church of Hawkwind Active, 1982.
- Choose Your Masques Active, 1982.
- Bring Me the Head of Yuri Gagarin (live), Magnum, 1983.
- This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic Cleopatra, 1984.
- Hawkwind Friends and Relations: Twice Upon a... Flicknife, 1984.
- Ridicule (live), Obsession, 1985.
- Hawkwind Friends and Relations, Vol. 3 Flicknife, 1985.
- The Chronicle of the Black Sword Gopaco, 1985.
- In the Beginning Demi Monde, 1985.
- Hawkfan Hawkfan, 1986.
- Angels of Death RCA, 1986.
- Live 70-73 Dojo, 1986.
- Xenon Codex Enigma, 1988.
- Travellers Aid Trust Sharp, 1988.
- Live Chronicles GWR, 1988.
- Night of the Hawk Audion, 1989.
- Space Bandits Roadrunner, 1990.
- Night Riding (live), Castle, 1990.
- Palace Springs Roadrunner, 1991.
- Live in Concert ROIR, 1991.
- California Brainstorm Iloki, 1992.
- Electric Teepee Griffin, 1994.
- It Is the Business of the Future to Be... Griffin, 1994.
- Distant Horizons Emergency, 1997.
- Ambient Anarchists Snapper, 1998.
- Hawkwind Epoch Eclipse 30th Anniversary Box Set EMI, 1999.
- Spacebrock Hawkwind/Voice, 2001.
- Family Tree Hawkwind, 2001.
- Live in Nottingham 1990 Hawkwind, 2002.
- George-Warren, Holly, and Patricia Romanowski, editors, Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Fireside/Rolling Stone Press, 2001.
- Jancik, Wayne, and Tad Lathrop, Cult Rockers, Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1995.
- Birmingham Post (Birmingham, England), November 8, 2001, p. 14.
- Evening News (Edinburgh, Scotland), November 14, 2001, p. 28.
- Guardian (London, England), July 18, 1997, p. 24; October 20, 1997, p. 17; September 3, 1999, p. 14; September 13, 1999, p. 14; October 1, 2001, p. 14.
- "Hawkwind," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (February 8, 2003).
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