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Hawkwind.....a brief history (the 1980's)

Live 79 ArtThe 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.

Weird Tape 101 CoverTitled 'Sonic Assassins / Dave Brock', the cassette contained a selection of tracks from the Sonic Assassins gig in 1977, along with some demos from Dave.
Over the next few years, a total of eight tapes would be released, each one giving some quality, not to mention rare, glimpses of Hawkwind. The recordings were either live, edits, demos from the studio, or tracks from pre–Hawkwind days. Whatever, it was a fine collection of Hawkwind that would never have been touched by the record companies

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 long–stay drummer Simon King during the Summer.
The tour was continually added to, including dates in Ireland and bar a couple of weeks stretched right through to Christmas. The future looked good for Hawkwind, though perhaps expectantly, scenes in house told a different story. Tim Blake left mid–tour and was replaced by Keith Hale. Then, early in 1981, both Ginger and Keith departed amidst dark clouds and this was shortly followed by a split from Bronze.

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.

Sonic Attack ArtThe 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 long–awaited return.
The Summer saw a number of festival dates in Britain and the return of Nik Turner who guested at most. The band celebrated the 10th Anniversary of their top–ten single
'Silver Machine' by recording a new version which was then put out by RCA in August.
By the Autumn, Nik was back in the band, had contributed to the new studio album and was to play a major role in the forthcoming British tour.

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 getting–on–down behind masks at either side of the stage.
The tour continued into 1983, with a short series of dates that had been left off the main part of the tour. By this time, drummer Andy Anderson had been called in to replace the departed Martin Griffin.

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.
In January, Dave Brock suffered a personal loss, then later in the year Barney Bubbles, who had been instrumental in shaping Hawkwind's imagery during the seventies took his own life. On top of this, the relationship between Hawkwind and their record company RCA had been, for want of a better word, somewhat strained in recent months and the inevitable split came in the Spring of 1983.

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.
It was seeking the right balance – weighing up the pros and cons.

Mag Bike Gig AdMeanwhile, 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.
Following this, Hawkwind went down to Stonehenge for a sunrise performance on the morning of the Summer Solstice. Again playing for well over two hours and for free, all set against a background of the looming Stones casting long shadows in the morning sun on Salisbury Plain.

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 results were later to be found on the single 'Night Of The Hawks' and EP
'The Earth Ritual Preview', released by Flicknife to coincide with a massive tour of Britain that began in February 1984.

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 ex–members 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 one–off gigs, including another 'Sonic Assassins' show in Brighton. Bob Calvert made it along and appeared with the band on vocals.
During June, people began to gather in Wiltshire for the annual Stonehenge Free Festival. Hawkwind arrived and played out the actual 'Earth Ritual' over two performances. The first was at night featuring the seven 'vestal virgins', while the second picked up the following moring at dawn on the Summer Solstice. A day later, some of the band teamed up with Jenny Chapman and friends for another performance, this time as 'Snorkwind'.
Needless to say, a fine time was had by all, though sadly, as events would show, this was to be the last free festival held at the Henge.

The first official video of Hawkwind appeared from 'Jettisounds' in July entitled
'Night Of The Hawks' from the Spring tour earlier in the year. The Summer saw Hawkwind play a few shows in Amsterdam, including a large squat party. By the Autumn, another UK tour had been set and coinciding with this was the release of the album – EP set 'Stonehenge This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic' on Flicknife.
The tour itself carried on in a similar vein to the lunacy experienced earlier in the year, with Nik Turner utilising coffins and roller skates to the onstage theatrics. For Alan Davey, a young bass player who had been tried out at Stonehenge, this was his first tour with the band, leaving Harvey Bainbridge to concentrate on synths.

Hawkon ArtThe first 'Hawkwind Convention' took place in February 1985 in Manchester. Long–time fan Trevor Hughes organised the event and managed an impressive re–union of ex–Hawkwind musicians, including Mick Slattery, Thomas Crimble and Dave Anderson.
The affair culminated in an impromptu jam with most musicians taking to the stage for a set of old and new numbers.

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.
This followed chaotic scenes at Parkhouse, near Stonehenge on 1st June, when over 1000 police went crazy with batons, shields and pure violence on the convoy, who were making their way to take the site for the annual free festival Solstice celebrations.
This 'ambush, capture and violence' technique deployed by the police, resulted in the biggest mass arrest in British legal history at the time, with over 500 people arrested and processed, not to mention severe damage being afflicted to human beings, animals and peoples live–in vehicles and property.

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.
It was pure magic and the tour recieved high critical acclaim from audiences and press alike.

Black Sword ArtThe '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 multi–media.
The 'Zarozinia' single was the first to appear in April on Flicknife, coming with two live tracks from the tour on the flip–side. It gave a taste of what was to come as at the end of July, a one–hour video 'The Chronicle Of The Black Sword' was released on 'Jettisoundz'.

The Summer saw a number of one–off 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, fun–filled 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.
The live album from 1985 'Live Chronicles' was released midway through the tour on Doug Smith's 'GWR' label, though sadly, due to a dispute with Mike Moorcock, all of Mike's poems were missing from the final cut, as was the deluxe gatefold presentation the band had wanted.
However, the music was top–notch and together with the video, gave a decent visual and audio reminder of a truly memorable Hawkwind tour.

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.
The following month, Hawkwind embarked on their first European tour for five years, with a series of gigs in Austria and Germany.

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 one–off gigs arranged.
However, the band had secured the headlining spot at two relatively high–profile events. The first was the 'Acid Daze' extravaganza during August in a supertent on Finsbury Park in North London and saw an awesome laser lightshow that was backed up by the multi–coloured costume dancers 'Screech Rock'. Shortly after the '45th World Sci–Fi Convention' in Brighton took place with the band re–playing the 'Chronicle Of The Black Sword' set complete with stage show and dancers.

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.
Xenon Codex ArtThe Summer was a hectic time with events at Stonehenge again turning ugly as ten thousand were stopped at Dawn on the Summer Solstice. With Hawkwind off the road for a while, the 'Agents Of Chaos' were formed, primarily a band consisting of 'Tubilah Dog', featuring Jerry Richards and Dave Brock. Festivals were in abundance and 'Hawkdog' could be found at many. Meanwhile, Alan Davey toured with 'Dumpy's Rusty Nuts' and Huw toured with 'The Lloyd Langton Group'.

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 mind–blowing stage show and a double album featuring many festival bands from Flicknife titled 'Travellers Aid Trust'.

Calvert TributeThe first week of March 1989 saw an all–dayer at London's Brixton Academy in tribute of Bob Calvert. An impressive bill, with many ex–Hawks coming on stage, together with an impressive bill – including the unexpected arrival of Amon Duul II.
It was a packed house, full of sadness and emotion. Bob's widow Jill entered stage towards the end of Hawkwind's set truly overwhelmed by the event.

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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