Hawkwind - Biography



As a glance at the list above will show, there have been many line-ups of Hawkwind since 1969; only guitarist and singer Dave Brock has been in every one of them. Hawkwind began, on the marvelous Hawkwind (1970 United Artists), as a heavy psychedelic band exploring unchartered territories. On In Search of Space, also known as X in Search of Space (1971 United Artists), Hawkwind unveiled its version of “space rock,” a genre mapped out by Lester Bangs in his Rolling Stone review of the album. The band’s thematic obsession with space travel finds its perfect expression in the futuristic Krautrock beat, enormous bass and guitar drone, and 3-D analog synthesizer sculpture of In Search. The psychedelic sci-fi metal of Hawkwind’s first decade continues to provide the blueprint for space rock bands everywhere.

Hawkwind is one of those bands, like the Byrds, say, or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, through which numerous people from other notable bands have passed, and which therefore inspire fan-made family trees. The Pretty Things’ Dick Taylor produced Hawkwind, and played with the band sometimes, as did the Pretties’ original drummer, Viv Prince. Bassist Dave Anderson of Amon Düül II played in Hawkwind from 1970 to 1971, and was replaced that year by Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who would later found and front the legendary metal band Motörhead. Lemmy’s replacement, Paul Rudolph, had been in the Deviants and Pink Fairies (“Do It”), as had Pink Fairy and former Pretty Things drummer Twink, who sat in with Hawkwind sometimes. Even Cream drummer Ginger Baker played in Hawkwind in 1980 and 1981.

In 1972, Hawkwind’s hard-rocking “Silver Machine” single was a UK hit. According to The Seth Man’s informative entry on the “Silver Machine” single at Julian Cope’s encyclopedic Head Heritage website, “Silver Machine” was originally sung by poet and lyricist Robert Calvert. However, writes the Seth Man, “Calvert seemed to be having a difficult time remembering his own lyrics, and his vocal ‘harmonies’ with Nik Turner kept colliding head on with entire verses left unsung or unremembered.” The song was therefore remixed for single release, with lead vocals by Lemmy Kilmister dubbed over a live recording from Hawkwind’s February 13, 1972 performance at London’s Roundhouse.

DikMik’s (Michael Davies) innovative audio generator and electronics increasingly fills up space in Hawkwind’s sound, as does Del Dettmar’s analog synthesizer, on the live double album Space Ritual (1973 United Artists ). Space Ritual is, for some people, Hawkwind’s greatest achievement. Its cover depicts a stylized drawing of Stacia Blake, who danced on stage with Hawkwind during the first half of the seventies, usually cald only in body paint. The fine single “Urban Guerilla” (“Let’s not talk of love and flowers / and things that don’t explode”) b/w “Brainbox Pollution,” DikMik’s last record with Hawkwind, followed that summer.

Keyboardist Simon House joined Hawkwind for the studio album Hall of the Mountain Grill (1974 United Artists). In 1975 Hawkwind issued the single “Kings of Speed” b/w Lemmy’s anthem “Motorhead,” future versions of which would not feature violin solos. The great Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975 United Artists) would be Lemmy’s last album with Hawkwind, as well as the band’s last on United Artists. Lemmy was arrested by Canadian customs agents on drug-related charges as Hawkwind entered the country in 1975. Though Lemmy got off and managed to catch up with the band in time for the next show, he was fired immediately following it. Back in England, Lemmy formed the power trio Bastard, soon renamed Motörhead.

Two science-fiction novels starring the members of Hawkwind, The Time of the Hawklords (1976 Warner Books) and Queens of Deliria (1977 Star), appeared, credited to British sci-fi/fantasy author Michael Moorcock, who contributed to Warrior on the Edge of Time, and co-author Michael Butterworth. (In the current editions of both books, Butterworth is credited as their sole author, “from a concept by Michael Moorcock.”) “A devastated Earth vibrates to the sound of the last great rock concert on Earth,” reads the cover of Hawklords. “Is it the music of life— or death?” The back cover of Queens describes an Earth “stalked by decaying ghouls and policed by satanic Bulls, their amplifiers meting out the punishing music of Elton John.” Though the back of Queens promised, “The final volume Ledge of Darkness will be published in 1978,” Ledge did not appear until the release of the now-scarce 25 Years On box set (1994 Griffin), which included comix artist Bob Walker’s graphic novel of Butterworth’s story.

Hawkwind pursued a lighter, softer psychedelia on Astounding Sounds Amazing Music (1976 Charisma) and Quark, Strangeness and Charm (1977 Charisma). In 1978, the band briefly dissolved when Brock joined Calvert’s existing band, Sonic Assassins, though that band soon became the Hawklords, who recorded 25 Years On (1978 Charisma). The band was called Hawkwind again by the release of Live Seventy Nine and Levitation (both 1980 Bronze). Guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, who had played on Hawkwind’s first album, returned to the band in 1979 and would remain for a decade. Cream's Ginger Baker played drums on Levitation, but not on Sonic Attack (1981 RCA), which takes its title from Hawkwind’s supreme bad-vibes number from the Space Ritual era. Hawkwind released two new albums on RCA in 1982, Church of Hawkwind and Choose Your Masques, the latter featuring a guest appearance from Nik Turner, who rejoined and remained with the band until 1984.

The Hawkwind catalog grew considerably during the 1980s as compilations of unreleased studio tracks, anthologies, box sets, and live albums proliferated, a trend has continued through the 1990s until the present day. As a result, new Hawkwind albums such as The Chronicle of the Black Sword (1985 Flicknife), The Xenon Codex (1988 GWR), Space Bandits (1990 GWR), Electric Tepee (1992 Castle), and It Is The Business Of The Future To Be Dangerous (1993 Castle) have sometimes been hard to discern in the deluge of semi-official, and even official, Hawkwind product. Since the early 1990s, Hawkwind has essentially consisted of the trio that recorded Tepee — Brock, bassist Alan Davey and drummer Richard Chadwick — supplemented by additional performers. The live Love In Space (1996 Emergency Broadcast System), for instance, lists members Brock, Davey and Chadwick, vocalist Ron Tree, two people credited with “mime/dance” and two people credited with “fire.”

Hawkwind’s Take Me To Your Leader (2005 Voiceprint) is the band’s most recent album and features guest appearances by Lene Lovich and Arthur Brown. In 2007, EMI issued a deluxe version of Space Ritual including DVD-audio. Hawkwind has headlined its own UK summer festival, the Hawkfest, in 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2008.  

 

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