Hawkwind.....a brief history (the 1970's)
|One of the organisers of the event in Notting Hill Gate was Doug Smith from 'Clearwater Productions'. Suitably impressed by what he saw, he took them on board. Shortly after, the band named themselves 'Hawkwind Zoo', started gigging and recorded a demo tape in order to secure a record contract. This proved a wise move, as in November 1969 they gained a deal with
'Liberty Records' and shortened their name to 'Hawkwind'.
Hawkwind's first major recordings came about in the Spring of 1970, when they entered the studio to record the single 'Hurry On Sundown' and their debut album simply entitled 'Hawkwind' with the assistance of Dick Taylor (formerly with The Pretty Things). But it wasn't until the release of their second album 'X In Search Of Space' in October 1971 that Hawkwind set off on a course for outer and inner space.
By this time the band had earned themselves a huge cult following that
travelled around to see them whenever they played. The band's free shows at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 had really been the beginning of the grass roots community following, along with hanging out and playing in Notting Hill, which was a happening place at this time.
By 1972, the band were without doubt breaking into bigger times. Hawkwind's performance at the 'Greasy Truckers Party', held at the famous Chalk Farm Roundhouse in London was confirmation of this, and in June, 'United Artists' released the single 'Silver Machine', which rose to number 3 in the national charts despite limited radio airplay. The money gained from the sales of the single enabled the band to tour Britain with a truly mindblowing show that became known as 'The Space Ritual'.
The whole show had been in formation for well over a year and saw the
creative talents of Barney Bubbles, Johnathan Smeeton (alias Liquid Len), Robert Calvert, Michael Moorcock and a host of others hit a peak and develop a pure multimedia background for the Hawkwind musicians, who by now were Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Dik Mik, Del Dettmar, Stacia, Lemmy, Bob Calvert and Simon King.
In May 1973, UA released the double album 'Space Ritual Alive', which came in a fabulous foldout sleeve designed by Barney Bubbles. The album contained almost 90 minutes of ultimate Hawkwind, heard as they should be live. Acclaimed for being well ahead of their time, it was a slice of vinyl that combined rock music with theatre and to this day is still regarded as one of their most notable recordings.
The band's next single was 'Urban Guerilla', released in July 1973. All the signs pointed to it being more successful than the last. However, a couple of weeks later, the songs lyrics came under scrutiny from the BBC who banned it from the airwaves. At this time in Britain, the IRA were involved with bombings in and around London, and the lyrics "I'm am Urban Guerilla I make bombs in the cellar" were judged in poor taste.
Following the success of the Space Ritual tour, the band hit the road with 'The Ridiculous Roadshow' at the end of 1973. Hawkwind had just returned from a successful debut tour in America and had a batch of new material to use.
The following year, events were to really hotup for Hawkwind. They returned to North America in March for a huge tour with Welsh rockers 'Man'. It was a huge entourage travelling under the banner of 'The 1999 Party'. It was a big success Hawkwind were turning America on. Elsewhere, much of 1974 was spent touring outside Britain and by September, returned again to the States for a tour coinciding with the release of their fifth album
A week into the tour and the hand of fate dealt a sudden, vicious blow. Hawkwind, their crew and management were arrested after their gig in Hammond, Illinois for apparent tax evasion. A law had recently been passed that enabled the tax men from the IRS to scoop a whopping chunk out of any revenue made by visiting bands. Shaken, the band returned to Britain while it was sorted out.
By the end of the year, the band were preparing for another lengthy jaunt around Britain that would take in more than forty towns and cities. The band at this stage was Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Stacia, Lemmy, Simon King, Simon House and Alan Powell. The lightshow had also changed considerably. By now, Liquid Len and his team 'The Lensmen', had constructed a barrage of new projections, liquids and visual delights for the Hawkwind experience, including more slides from David Hardy. The famous 'Tree Town City' sequence, and the message it contained, had by now found a firm footing in the show and was popular with the audience.
The beginning of 1975 saw Hawkwind in the studio for more recording sessions. The new album (which was to draw heavily from Mike Moorcock's 'Eternal Champion' theme) needed to commence the first stages of construction. With the looming set of live dates ahead of them, the band decided to record the single 'Kings Of Speed', leaving the album until after the tour.
The album 'Warrior On The Edge Of Time' was released in May on both sides of the Atlantic. The tour was going great, the album was coming in for warm praise and all seemed well. However, on crossing the US Canadian border, Lemmy was found in possession of what customs thought was Cocaine. He was arrested and slung into jail. Elsewhere, Hawkwind needed a replacement bass player and fast. Luckily, they acquired the services of Canadianborn Paul Rudolph, who completed the remaining dates.
Lemmy, meanwhile, was sacked from the band, even though he was caught with some of that other white powder and not cocaine. Hawkwind had made a decision, enough was enough. The remainder of the year was again mostly spent abroad, though Hawkwind did headline the 'Reading Festival' in August. The night after, four of the band jammed at the 'Watchfield Festival' for free, playing without the hassles that major tours bring and having a whale of a time.
At Reading, Bob Calvert made a guest appearance, (having spent the last couple of years concentrating on solo projects) and shortly after rejoined the band. The same gig was also the last for dancer Stacia and light supremo Liquid Len. It was a time of change, rounded off at the end of the year with a split from UA and manager Doug Smith.
Back at the ranch, Hawkwind were to completely reshape their direction and style. They signed with 'Charisma Records' in Spring 1976, and Bob Calvert became lead vocalist, fronting the band onstage using props, costumes and his hyperimaginative mind to captivate the audience and playout various roles. He became well known for adopting a selection of guises onstage and off. Not to be outdone, UA released a compilation album 'Roadhawks' in April, which contained a selection of Hawkwind tracks remixed by Dave Brock.
Prior to another major UK tour, the single 'Kerb Crawler' and Hawkwind's eighth album 'Astounding Sounds Amazing Music' were released by Charisma. Both records signalled the fact the band's sound had indeed changed. There were no referances to space and time, only a clearer, tighter, more precise and cleverly constructed sound.
The 'Astounding Sounds Tour' kicked off during September 1976 and became one of the band's famous outings. The backdrop was the impressive 'Atomhenge', a looming, pulsating stucture based on Stonehenge and the Atom that had been designed by Larry Smart and Jonathan Smeeton, who had by now returned to the lighting panel. Throughout the show, thousands of light bulbs within the glassfibre structure sprang to life, giving an eerie, almost menacing atmosphere onstage.
By the end of the year, tensions within Hawkwind were spilling over. In the studio recording their next single, ranks were formed and Nik Turner opted to stay out. However, by the beginning of 1977, Hawkwind had lost Nik Turner, Alan Powell and Paul Rudolph following a period of the band's history later regarded as wishy washy. This left Dave Brock and Bob Calvert at the nucleus and for the first time were able to take complete control on Hawkwind's direction.
The single 'Back On The Streets' was released during January, while the new album and single appeared midSummer, both titled 'Quark Strangeness And Charm' and firmly announcing Hawkwind were well back on course. It was a great album and even secured favourable reviews from the music press. More importantly, however, the audiences lapped it up and this fed back to the band who pulled out all the stops on a year full of British and European tours with Bob Calvert reaching an onstage peak.
At the end of the year, Hawkwind opted not to stage their customary preChristmas tour. Instead, Dave Brock and Bob Calvert teamed up with a West Country band called 'Ark' for a oneoff performance under the name 'The Sonic Assassins' in Barnstaple.
Meanwhile, Hawkwind had been lined up for another tour of America, the first under Charisma, and the first playing support to another band. The tour suffered midway through with the planned departure of Simon House, who began rehearsals for David Bowie's world tour.
And so the 'Hawklords' were formed, and with the name change came new musicians in Harvey Banbridge and Martin Griffin, both from Ark, along with keyboard player Steve Swindells. They rehearsed and recorded throughout the Summer of 1978 in Devon, all leading up to a massive British tour scheduled for the Autumn, when the band's new album '25 Years On' and single 'Psi Power' were released.
The tour was fairly successful and the Hawkwind sound had gained a more heavy tinge with a definite raw punk edge. Bob Calvert entered arguably his most creative period during this tour real on the edge stuff.
Perhaps sensing the halt in proceedings, Bob Calvert, Steve Swindells and Martin Griffin left the band in early 1979, leaving just Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge, who for a few months were the band. Elsewhere, Charisma released the shelved
The end of the decade witnessed Hawkwind take to the road on a selfpromoted and financed tour of Britain, following the break with Charisma earlier in the year. The tour took in most major ports of call, with all but four nights selling out and saw the inclusion of a tremendous laser display each night operated by Tim's companion Patrice Warener.
The lasers became a source of concern to council officials, who turned up numerous nights convinced they were lethal death rays and refused to let the band use them. In good Hawkwind fashion, this interferance was soon overcome.
Hawkwind were alive and well with a new lineup, a growing legion of fans and ready for the 1980's
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