Hawkwind.....a brief history (the 1980's)
|The new decade started off pretty slow for Hawkwind and they were still without a record contract. Certain members of the band resorted to part time jobs in order to keep above board, but luckily, they had acquired the services of a mobile to record a number of shows from the last tour and used these to eventually secure a deal with 'Bronze Records' in Spring 1980.
The Summer saw the debut releases from the new label, with the live single and album 'Shot Down In The Night' and 'Live 79' a few weeks later, both signalling a new era of Hawkwind.
Meanwhile, the band were busy in the studio recording their new album using digital equipment, instead of tried and tested analogue. It proved a shrewd move, being one of the first albums to be digitally recorded and hit the shelves with the title 'Levitation' as Hawkwind set off on another major tour of Britain during October. It was a great album, fantastic with headphones and collected many live favourites with the audience for years to come.
Infact, the year was full of new and archive releases. Charisma cashed in with the compilation album 'Repeat Performance' during September; Bronze released a second single 'Who's Gonna Win The War' in November, and the first of the tapes from 'Weird Records' appeared early in the year.
Titled 'Sonic Assassins / Dave Brock', the cassette contained a selection of tracks from the Sonic Assassins gig in 1977, along with some demos from Dave.
The 'Levitation Tour' was a real gem. The album had been recieved more than favorably and on the road, Hawkwind put on a blinding show, again incorporating many new numbers and touring for the first time with the legendary Ginger Baker on the drumstool, following the departure of longstay drummer Simon King during the Summer.
This left Hawkwind as a basic three piece and with the approaching festival season, the band urgently needed a drummer. Eventually, Martin Griffin returned and Dave and Harvey took over work on the synths. Hawkwind signed with 'Active Records' (part of RCA) late Spring and made their first live outing by headlining the Stonehenge and Glastonbury Festivals in June. Back on course, the band entered the studio to commence work on their new album.
Elsewhere, 'Flicknife Records', an up and coming independent label run by Frenchy and Gina in London, released some archive Hawkwind recordings with the EP 'Hawkwind Zoo' in May. It featured two tracks from the demo session the band recorded way back in 1969, and was delightfully recieved by the huge numbers of fans that had waited so long for some extra vintage Hawkwind to add to their collections.
The new album 'Sonic Attack' was released during October 1981 and was soon heralded as Hawkwind's best album for many years and some say, an album seeing a return to the psychedelic sound of the early days. It came out midway through another extensive tour of Britain that saw the return of John Perrin on lights with his 'Astral Projections'. Each tour this decade saw the band utilise, merge and expand the lightshow and sound, with the effect of making the visuals and accoustics an equal part of the overall experience. The album was followed shortly after by the single'Angels Of Death'.
Come the Spring of 1982 and Hawkwind set off on their first overseas tour for four years with a string of dates in Germany, Luxemburg and Holland, satisfying the fans on the European mainland after a longawaited return.
The album 'Choose Your Masques' was released to coincide with the tour. Nik was back and led the band from the front. The backdrop featured a bank of T.V screens showing clips of Hawkwind in action along with other psychedelic images. This was rounded off by dancers Kris Tait and Jane Issac gettingondown behind masks at either side of the stage.
This period in Hawkwind's history saw a number of major decisions and personal tradgedies that would shape the course of the band's direction for the rest of the decade.
From this moment on, Hawkwind would effectively sign and release their albums through smaller independent labels. Although this move arguably resulted in less financial input, the band would gain more freedom and independance in shaping their future progression.
Meanwhile, the approaching festival season saw Hawkwind headline the 10th Anniversary 'Motorcycle Action Group' celebrations at a festival in Somerset. This was to be Andy Anderson's last gig with the band (as he went off to join 'The Cure') but it was a show that would fondly be remembered by all the band as one of the most enjoyable for many moons.
The rest of the year was pretty low key, though Flicknife released an album of live and studio tracks called 'Zones' plus the single 'Motorway City' at the end of October. Then in December, the band teamed up with Lemmy for a recording session in London.
The 'Earth Ritual Preview Tour' spanned more than five weeks of live shows, and became an event full of fun, lunacy and chaotic scenes that Hawkwind as a band and unit thrive on. It was a tour full of guest appearances by exmembers and friends, including Dave Anderson, Lemmy, Mike Moorcock plus plenty of ex (and future) Hawkwind musicians lurking amidst frolicsome scenes backstage.
With the tour over, Hawkwind went on to play a number of oneoff gigs, including another 'Sonic Assassins' show in Brighton. Bob Calvert made it along and appeared with the band on vocals.
The first official video of Hawkwind appeared from 'Jettisounds' in July entitled
The first 'Hawkwind Convention' took place in February 1985 in Manchester. Longtime fan Trevor Hughes organised the event and managed an impressive reunion of exHawkwind musicians, including Mick Slattery, Thomas Crimble and Dave Anderson.
Meanwhile, the band began the serious work on their next studio album, stage show and tour, adapted from the series of 'Elric' books by Mike Moorcock. Inbetween, Hawkwind made a rare T.V appearance and recorded their first BBC Session since 1972
The band also played a short series of dates in England, together with playing the alternative Stonehenge free festival at Westbury.
By the Autumn, Hawkwind had completed their new album 'Chronicle Of The Black Sword' and single 'Needle Gun', both released on Flicknife and heralded the start of a huge tour of Britain. The stage set was awesome, reminiscent of the Atomhenge set in 1976. The show featured Tony Crerar playing Elric, complete with the sword Stormbringer and Kris Tait as Zarozinia, together with a handful of dancers and maidens.
The 'Black Sword' tour was recorded at both Hammersmith Odeon concerts and early 1986 saw the band sifting through the tapes and mixing began for a double live album release. The show had also been filmed and a video and single were also planned to compliment the live album, so as to give a complete set of pure Hawkwind multimedia.
The Summer saw a number of oneoff shows, including a headline spot at the annual 'Reading Rock Festival', which was recorded and aired on Radio One later in the Autumn.
With the serious, well planned tour of 1985, the next British Hawkwind tour reverted to a loose, funfilled and lunacy approach. Called the 'Chaos Tour', it more than lived up to it's name and was another big tour around the countries concert halls.
Hawkwind's next album was released in April 1987 on Flicknife. 'Out And Intake' was a mixture of studio and live tracks culled from 1982 and 1986.
Meanwhile, the Summer saw Dave and Harvey living on the road, taking time out to relax and attend a number of free festivals as Hawkwind's tour schedule had only a few oneoff gigs arranged.
The year closed with another short series of concerts, incorporating 'Acid Daze 2' in Leeds and like the London event, had a decent set of supporting bands on the bill, including Bob Calvert's 'Starfighters'.
1988 was a year to remember in many ways. The 'Mad Professors Laboratory Tour' in the Spring was accompanied by the new album on GWR titled 'The Xenon Codex'. Shortly after, a fundraiser to save the Black Rhinos was held in London's Kentish Town and featured a guest spot from Lemmy.
August 1988 saw the untimely death of Robert Calvert from a heart attack that shocked all who knew him and those who only knew him through the wit and energy of live shows and recordings. Sadly, he had just began working closely with Hawkwind again on a major project that was based around the 'Hawklords' trilogy of books.
More dates for Hawkwind early in the Autumn were followed by another major tour at the end of the year with a mindblowing stage show and a double album featuring many festival bands from Flicknife titled 'Travellers Aid Trust'.
The first week of March 1989 saw an alldayer at London's Brixton Academy in tribute of Bob Calvert. An impressive bill, with many exHawks coming on stage, together with an impressive bill including the unexpected arrival of Amon Duul II.
A brief spell in the studio and a short series of dates occupied the band during the Summer, including appearances in the travellers field at the Glastonbury Festival and at Cornwall's Treworgey Tree Fayre. This was followed by another extravaganza at Brixton Academy to celebrate the bands 20th anniversary.
Late September saw Hawkwind return to North America for the first time in ten years with a string of dates and a truly sensational sound. The end of the decade saw another lengthy tour of Britain with one of the best lightshows for years courtesy of Pogle Stowell and company.
Another decade had come to an end and Hawkwind were truly flying. Onwards and upwards to the 1990's
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