Best known as a former member of space rock pioneers Hawkwind, British Saxophonist, singer and composer Nik Turner was born 26 August 1940, Oxford, England. Turner was known for his experimental free jazz stylisations and outrageous stage presence, often donning full makeup and Ancient Egypt-inspired costumes. Hawkwind are one of the earliest space rock groups. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes. They are considered a key link between thehippie and punk cultures and are primarily known for playing “space-rock”, a hybrid of hard-rock and acid-rock that united the sonic power of the former and the free improvisation of the latter. Formed in November 1969, Hawkwind have gone through many incarnations and styles of music. Dozens of musicians, dancers and writers have worked with the group since their inception.
The 1970 debut album was entltled Hawkwind. Although it was not a commercial success, it did bring them to the attention of the UK underground scene finding them playing free concerts, benefit gigs, and festivals. Playing free outside the Bath Festival, they encountered the Pink Fairies, who shared similar interests in music and recreational activities; a friendship developed which led to the two bands becoming running partners and performing as “Pinkwind”. Harrison, departed and was replaced by Thomas Crimble, who played on a few BBC sessions before leaving to help organise the Glastonbury Free Festival 1971; Lloyd-Langton also quit. Their follow up album, 1971’s X In Search of Space, brought greater commercial success, reaching number 18 on the UK album charts, and also saw the band’s image and philosophy take shape, courtesy of graphic artist Barney Bubbles and underground press writerRobert Calvert, as depicted in the accompanying Hawklog booklet which would further be developed into the Space Ritual stage show. Science fiction author Michael Moorcock and dancer Stacia also started contributing to the band. Dik Mik left the band, replaced by sound engineer Del Dettmar, but returned giving the band two electronics players. Bass player Dave Anderson had also joined and played on the album but departed before its release because of personal tensions with some other members of the band. Anderson and Lloyd-Langton then formed the short-lived band Amon Din. Meanwhile, Ollis quit.
The addition of bassist Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister and drummer Simon King propelled the band to greater heights.One of the early gigs this band played was a benefit for the Greasy Truckers at The Roundhouse on 13 February 1972. A live album of the concert Greasy Truckers Party was released, and after re-recording the vocal, a single “Silver Machine” was also released, reaching number 3 in the UK charts. This generated sufficient funds for the subsequent album Doremi Fasol Latido Space Ritual tour. The show featured dancers Stacia and Miss Renee, mime artist Tony Carrera and a light show by Liquid Len and was recorded on the elaborate package Space Ritual. At the height of their success in 1973, the band released the single “Urban Guerrilla” which coincided with an IRA bombing campaign in London, so the BBC refused to play it and the band’s management reluctantly decided to withdraw it fearing accusations of opportunism, despite the disc having already climbed to number 39 in the UK chart. Dik Mik departed during 1973 and Calvert ended his association with the band to concentrate on solo projects. Dettmar also left, so Simon House was recruited as keyboardist and violinist playing live shows, a North America tour and recording the 1974 album Hall of the Mountain Grill. Dettmar left after a European tour and emigrated to Canada, whilst Alan Powell played on that European tour, and also played alongside King giving the band two drummers.At the beginning of 1975, the band recorded the album Warrior on the Edge of Time in collaboration with Michael Moorcock, literature.Swindells left to record a solo album after an offer had been made to him by the record company ATCO.
However, during a North America tour , Lemmy was caught in possession of amphetamine which police mistook for cocaine and he was jailed, forcing the band to cancel some shows. Fed up with his erratic behaviour, the band replaced him with former Pink Fairies guitarist Paul Rudolph. Lemmy then teamed up with another Pink Fairies guitarist, Larry Wallis, to form Motörhead, named after the last song he had written for Hawkwind.Robert Calvert made a guest appearance with band for their headline set at the Reading Festival in August 1975, after which he chose to rejoin the band as a full-time vocalist and front man. , Amazing Music is the first album of this era and highlights both Calvert’s well-crafted lyrics written with stage performance in mind and a greater proficiency and scope in the music. But on the eve of recording the follow-upBack on the Streets single, Turner was sacked for his erratic live playing and Powell was deemed surplus to requirements. After a tour to promote the single and during rehearsals for the next album, Rudolph was also sacked for allegedly trying to steer the band into a musical direction at odds with Calvert and Brock’s vision.Adrian “Ade” Shaw, who had supported Hawkwind on the Space Ritual tour, came in for the 1977 album Quark, Strangeness and Charm. The band continued to enjoy moderate commercial success, but Calvert’s mental illness often caused problems. A manic phase saw the band abandon a European tour in France, while a depression phase during a 1978 North American tour convinced Brock to disband the group. In between these two tours, the band had recorded the album PXR5 in January 1978, but its release was delayed until 1979.On 23 December 1977 in Barnstaple, Brock and Calvert performed a one-off gig with Devon band Ark as the Sonic Assassins, and bassist Harvey Bainbridge and drummer Martin Griffin were recruited from this event. Steve Swindells was recruited as keyboard player. The band was named Hawklords, and they recorded the album 25 Years On. King quit during recording sessions to return to London, while House, who had temporarily left the band to join a David Bowie tour, elected to remain with Bowie full-time, but nevertheless contributed violin to these sessions.
In late 1979, Hawkwind reformed with Brock, Bainbridge and King being joined by Huw Lloyd-Langton (who had played on the debut album) and Tim Blake (formerly of Gong), embarking upon a UK tour resulting in the Live Seventy Nine and Levitation albums. However, during the recording of Levitation King quit and Ginger Baker was drafted in for the sessions, but he chose to stay with the band for the tour, and Brock and Bainbridge played synthesizers and sequencers themselves, with drummer Griffin from the Hawklords rejoining . The albums Sonic Attack, the electronic Church of Hawkwind and Choose Your Masques soon followed and the band headlined the 1981 Glastonbury Festival and made an appearance at the 1982 Donington Monsters of Rock Festival, as well as continuing to play the summer solstice at Stonehenge Free Festival. Nik Turner returned as a guest for the 1982 Choose Your Masques tour and was invited back permanently. The Earth Ritual tour was filmed for Hawkwind’s first ever video release, Night of the Hawk. A young fan- Alan Davey sent a tape of his playing to Brock, which impressed Brock, who ousted Reeves moving Bainbridge from bass to keyboards in order to accommodate Davey. This experimental line-up played at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984, which was filmed and release as Stonehenge 84. Subsequent personal and professional tensions between Brock and Turner led to the latter’s expulsion at the beginning of 1985. Clive Deamer, who was deemed “too professional” for the band, was eventually replaced in 1985 by Danny Thompson Jr, a friend of bassist Alan Davey, and remained almost to the end of the decade.
Hawkwind’s most ambitious project, The Chronicle of the Black Sword, was based loosely around the Elric series of books . Moorcock contributed lyrics, but only performed some spoken pieces on some live dates. The tour was recorded and issued as an album Live Chronicles and video The Chronicle of the Black Sword. A headline appearance at the 1986 Reading Festival was followed by a UK tour to promote the Live Chronicles album which was filmed and released as Chaos. In 1988 the band recorded the album The Xenon Codex , but soon after, both Lloyd-Langton and Thompson departed.Drummer Richard Chadwick, who joined in the summer of ’88, was initially invited simply to play with the band, but eventually replaced stand in drummer Mick Kirton to become the band’s drummer to the present day.violinist Simon House was re-instated into the lineup in 1989 and, Hawkwind embarked on their first US visit in 11 years The successfully received full American tour was the first of several over the coming years, in an effort by the band to reintroduce themselves to the American market. Bridget Wishart also joined to become the band’s one and only frontwoman. This band produced two albums, 1990s Space Bandits and 1991’s Palace Springs and also filmed a 1-hour appearance for the Bedrock TVseries.1990 saw Hawkwind tour the USA again and bassist Davey left, forming his own Middle-Eastern flavoured hard-rock group Bedouin and a Motörhead tribute act named Ace of Spades. And His bass playing role was reluctantly picked up by singer Tree and the band were joined full-time by lead guitarist Jerry Richards for the albums Distant Horizons and In Your Area. Rasta chanter Captain Rizz also joined the band for guest spots during live shows.
A reunion event featuring appearances from past and present members intended to coincide with the band’s 30th anniversary and the release of Epocheclipse – 30 Year Anthology set took place 21 October 2000 at the Brixton Academy. Guests included Samantha Fox who sang “Master of the Universe.” The Hawkestra had set a template for Brock to assemble a core band of Tree, Brock, Richards, Davey, Chadwick and for the use of former members as guests on live shows and studio recordings. The 2000 Christmas Astoria show was recorded with contributions from House, Blake, Rizz, Moorcock, Jez Huggett and Keith Kniveton and released as Yule Ritual the following year. In 2001, Davey agreed to rejoin the band permanently, but only after the departure of Tree and Richards.Meanwhile, Turner organised further Hawkestra gigs resulting in the formation of xhawkwind.com, a band consisting mainly of ex-Hawkwind members and playing old Hawkwind songs. An appearance at Guilfest in 2002 led to confusion as to whether this actually was Hawkwind, sufficiently irking Brock into taking legal action to prohibit Turner from trading under the name Hawkwind. Turner lost the case and the band now performs as Space Ritual.
In 2005 Take Me to Your Leader was released. Recorded by Brock/Davey/Chadwick, contributors included new keyboardist Jason Stuart, Arthur Brown, tabloid writer and TV personality Matthew Wright, 1970s New Wave singer Lene Lovich, Simon House and Jez Huggett. This was followed in 2006 by the CD/DVD Take Me to Your Future. Alan Davey, departed in 2007 And was replaced by “Mr Dibs”.The band performed at their annual Hawkfest festival and headlined the US festival Nearfest. At the end of 2007, Tim Blake once again joined the band filling the lead role playing keyboards and theremin. The band played 5 Christmas dates, the London show being released as an audio CD and video DVD under the title Knights of Space. In October 2008, Niall Hone joined Hawkwind for their Winter 2008 tour playing guitar, along with returning synth/theremin player Tim Blake and occasionally played bass guitar alongside Mr Dibs.In 2009, Jon Sevink, from The Levellers appeared as guest violinist at some shows. Later that year, Hawkwind embarked on a winter tour to celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary, including two gigs on 28 and 29 August marking the anniversary of their first live performances.
In 2010, Hawkwind held their annual Hawkfest at the site of the original Isle Of Wight Festival, marking the 40th anniversary of their appearance there and also released a studio album entitled Blood of the Earth. April 2012 saw the release of a new album, Onward, on the Plastichead’s Eastworld Records imprint. Keyboardist Dead Fred rejoined Hawkwind for the 2012 tour in support of Onward and has continued to perform with the band on subsequent tours.In November 2012, a power trio subset (Brock, Chadwick and Hone) of the current touring line-up released an album under the name “Hawkwind Light Orchestra,” titled Stellar Variation And held a two-day festival, “Hawkeaster”, at Seaton Town Hall in Devon in March 2013. During Which Hawkwind performed their 1975 album Warrior On The Edge Of Time in its entirety to celebrate the album’s 40th anniversary re-release.