[CHRONOLOGY] 1969: Standing On The Runway
Ref: p6 – Hawkwind’s ‘first’ gig at the All Saints Church Hall has taken on a mythic dimension, which is another way of saying that many of the details around it are lost in the mists of time. One thing that’s kept coming up is regarding the line-up, specifically whether or not DikMik played with the band that night. While DikMik himself stated that he did play, various other parties have claimed that he was still just a roadie at this point, and hadn’t yet acquired/been given his prototype audio generator. Nik Turner claimed that it was quite a bit later after the first gig that DikMik began playing electronics and that he started off with a testing kit assembled for him by the London Arts Lab.
But I became particularly intrigued by this puzzle when I came across the US press release for their first album (written by Dick Lawson, who claimed to have been at the All Saints Hall gig), which also said that DikMik had been “picked up” sometime afterwards. I asked Doug Smith for his recollection, and he seemed to confirm that DikMik was indeed a non-playing member of the group at the time. Doug adds, “Somewhere in my memory, there’s an image of Dave showing DM in a studio what to do with the audio generator. It was Dave’s idea to use it and why not use the guy ostensibly humping the gear to operate it!” But who knows? As Doug himself would say, “Print the myth.”
STOP PRESS: I recently spoke to Pete Pavli of High Tide, who were the headlining band at the All Saints Hall that night, and he was pretty adamant that DikMik did play, though he recalls that an “instruction manual” for the audio generator was consulted!
Ref: p6 – I deliberately didn’t go too much into the back history of Dave Brock’s pre-Hawkwind exploits (read Ian Abraham’s Sonic Assassins for the full lowdown), but again, there’s one particular story I’d like to address, only because once again, it demonstrates an early commitment to myth-making/being generous with the truth… It’s regularly stated that the Famous Cure had a “top five hit” in the Dutch charts with ‘Sweet Mary’, presumably a version of Leadbelly’s ‘Sweet Mary Blues’. However, with the online resources available these days (Discogs, 45Cat etc), it doesn’t take long to establish that no such recording by the Famous Cure exists.
As Mick Slattery said on the Hawkwind And Related History FB group, “I don't think there ever was a recording of 'Sweet Mary'. When Dave recruited me for the tour, he told me 'Mary' was in the charts, but I didn't believe him as I never saw anything about it or ever heard it. I think it was used as publicity & became a bit of a myth!” Indeed, the story was used in Liberty’s original press biography of the group, was subsequently quoted in an early feature in ZigZag (March 1970), and has cropped up in official histories ever since.
However, Mick also said, “We did play 'Sweet Mary' in our set in Holland, and Brock used the same chords for 'Hurry On Sundown' a couple of years later...” Popular Dutch group Cuby & Blizzards released ‘Sweet Mary’ as a b-side in 1966, but for a fantastic slice of contemporary freakbeat, check out The Art Woods’ version from 1964, featuring a pre-Deep Purple Jon Lord.
Ref: p6 – One thing that isn't a myth is Dave Brock’s membership of the Dharma Blues Band prior to the Famous Cure, a source of some actual pre-Hawkwind recordings. Brock: “Yes, I did take part in a collective album some years ago. It came out on Immediate and was called Blues Anytime Volume 2. It featured people like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Tony McPhee, Savoy Brown etc, and I contributed four tracks with the Dharma Blues Band (though only two were released here - JB), which consisted of myself on harmonica and vocals, boogie pianist Mick King and Luke Francis on harmonica and guitar. Luke was originally with the Animals and has become a popular entertainer in Finland. When Immediate collapsed, the tapes were brought by RCA, who re-issued them as a double album called An Anthology Of British Blues Artists.” (from Melody Maker, Sept 74) (Just to confuse matters, there’s a Dharma Blues single from 1969 of ‘Sweet Mary’ – but apart from the fact that Brock had left the band in 1966, there’s some suspicion that this is a bootleg produced much later than ’69)
Ref: p6 – To see film of Dave Brock busking around Portobello Road in 1968 and lurking in the background during rehearsals for the Albert Hall Buskers Concert in January 1969, go here.
Ref: p7 – Doug Smith paints a nice picture of those early rehearsals: “In those first four months after the All Saints Hall gig, they were rehearsing in a basement in Great Western Road, which is where they decided on becoming 'Hawkwind Zoo'. The landlord (‘Tommy’) of my place (Clearwater) also owned a row of houses on the west side of Great Western Road leading up to the bridge over the canal and the rehearsal room/basement was in the building one away from the canal. It was a double basement and the lower level had a door out to the canal path, as it went under the bridge. They all liked that door, a quick escape in case the 'Old Bill' raided the place.”
Ref: p8 – In the earliest Melody Maker live ad for the band, supporting Stray at the legendary Eel Pie Island Hotel, 24 October 1969, they’re listed as ‘Hawquins Zoo’ (which perhaps suggests they were originally calling themselves Hawkwind’s Zoo? Or at least that’s what somebody said over the phone). Judging by the live ads from this time, the band were known as Hawkwind Zoo through to the end of November 1969. The first ad that lists them as just 'Hawkwind' is for a gig at the Country Club, Belsize Park, 4 December 1969. View these ads here.
[CHRONOLOGY] 1970: Hundreds Of People Like You And Me
Ref: p18 – Hawkwind’s free performances at the 1970 Isle Of Wight festival have also taken on a mythic dimension. According to Dave Brock, “Jimi Hendrix came in to see what was going on. I think in Hendrix’s set Jimi dedicated one of the numbers to ‘the guy down in the front with a silver face’, which was Nik. Nik got around to talking to him and asked him if he’d have a jam with us. But by the time he got there the tent was deflating…” And in Sonic Assassins (p30), Huw Lloyd-Langton says, “Somebody asked him if he wanted to get up and play. He actually said to them that if he did so, he’d spoil it!” Nik Turner also says that Miles Davis stuck his head into the pre-deflation tent.
Ref: p19 - "On 29 March, they play their first show abroad at Le Festival Musique Evolution near Paris, alongside Pink Floyd, Ginger Baker’s Airforce, Kevin Ayers and the Edgar Broughton Band." Held in a chilly aircraft hangar with a stage at either end, Evolution was the first officially sanctioned music festival in France, and apparently a pretty chaotic affair, with many of the advertised bands not playing. However, according to Doug Smith, Hawkwind were heroes of the event, playing when others wouldn't and filling in for missing acts with impromptu jams. You can view footage from the festival (though unfortunately not Hawkwind) here.
Ref: p19 - CORRECTION: "On 31 July, ‘Hurry On Sundown’/‘Mirror Of Illusion’ is released as a single..." While this is the 'official' date, the single's release was actually put back to 7 August (handwritten on some of the promos).
Ref: p19 – There’s a nice description of Hawkwind from an unknown publication around this time: “A motley six-piece group consisting mainly of self-confessed buskers, layabouts and general wanderers, Hawkwind make a noise that they describe as ‘a mixture of electronic music, heavy beat and simple chords and incorporating avant garde jazz sounds.’”
Ref: p20 – “1 - Hawkwind and the Pink Fairies would play together as one band on many occasions.” For more about ‘Pinkwind’, read this excellent interview with Paul Rudolph.
Ref: p28 - CORRECTION: "1 - The origins of this song are likely in ‘Hurry Sundown’, a gospel blues released in 1944 by Richard Huey & His Sundown Singers, which includes the refrain “See what tomorrow brings”." Actually, it seems more likely that Brock took inspiration for 'Hurry On Sundown' from Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell's 'Hurry Down Sunshine', the B-side of their 'Corn Licker Blues' single from 1934. Not only does it also feature the “See what tomorrow brings” line, but Brock has talked about being a fan of Carr & Blackwell (‘Whatever Turned Me On – Dave Brock’s Influences’ - New Musical Express, 05.08.72). Brock probably first heard the track on the Leroy Carr compilation Blues Before Sunrise, released in the UK in 1963.
Ref: p28 – “5 - ‘Mirror Of Illusion’ shares its lyric with ‘Illusions’, a dour but affecting piece of acid folk recorded by Dave Brock & Friends for the 29 January 1969 edition of John Peel’s Night Ride show.” Listen to ‘Illusions’ here.
Ref: p30 – There’s an alligator man leering out of the ad for Hawkwind’s debut album, but it differs from Arthur Rhodes’ original artwork in the coiled, extended length of its worm-like tail.
Ref: p30 - "Only Harrison directly professes an interest in “electronic
music” – ironically enough, as by the time of Hawkwind’s release, he’s been replaced by Thomas Crimble." For a long time, very little was known about what had happened to John Harrison after he left Hawkwind, other than he had gone to live in America - and apparently, as one of the signatories of the original Liberty contract, there was a not inconsiderable amount of money being held on account for him from sales of the debut album.
It was only when John died in 2012 that it emerged he had remained in the music business, and worked as a staff engineer and producer at Village Recorders, one of the top music studios in Los Angeles. However, the only evidence I can find of his time there is this piece by Joe Nolte of the band The Last, where he talks about John producing their debut album (L.A. Explosion! from 1979) - he had apparently become quite adverse to guitar distortion of any kind ;-) Here's a letter that his sister Franny sent to Dave & Kris Brock following John's death.
Ref: p32 – CORRECTION: Actually, there’s no evidence that Hawkwind appeared at the Pilton Festival. For instance, there’s no mention of them here or here. Similarly, Hawkwind are sometimes linked with the earlier Phun City festival (24-26 July 1970), but while some members might have been present, they didn’t play.
[ESSAY] The Origins Of Space Rock: Parallels And Precursors To The Hawkwind Sound
Ref: p38 - "Brock and Robert Calvert were both serious fans (of The Velvet Underground)..." As was Simon King. Michael Moorcock commented on Facebook, "I found Lou (Reed) pretty agreeable and had the impression he liked Hawkwind, too." And Marco Gloder, head of Flicknife Records, added, "I met (John) Cale a few times when Nico was living with us and he came a-visiting. He liked Hawkwind and we had interesting conversations about freaks music."
Ref: p39 – One other band, or rather song, I have to flag here is ‘The Forest Of Black’ (1968) by Dirty Filthy Mud, which sounds like an exact cross between Silver Apples and Fifty Foot Hose, and is amazing.
I should also mention Lothar And The Hand People. Based out of New York in the late 60s, they were one of the first bands to have their own Moog, while ‘Lothar’ was the name of their Theremin. However, they were more of a quirky psych pop outfit rather than space rock pioneers. Still, take a listen to this.
Ref: p40 – There’s another couple of European bands I’d like to highlight as, if not exactly precursors to the Hawkwind sound, certainly operating in a similar avant/freak out rock vein: France’s Red Noise and Denmark’s Burnin Red Ivanhoe. Oh, and Dave Brock was apparently a fan of trippy Swedish psych band Mecki Mark Men, whose debut album came out in 1967.
Ref: p41 – Regarding the influence that Krautrock may or may not have had on the early Hawkwind, Thomas Crimble says in Sonic Assassins (p30), “Dave Brock was always on at me to go and listen to some Can, or ‘play it like Can’…” (Listen to the extraordinary, Crimble-driven ‘We Do It’ from the November 1970 BBC live session for evidence of this). And in another early piece on Brock’s favourite music, he singles out Kraftwerk’s pre-Autobahn albums for praise and says, “Kraftwork (sic) are doing things I’d like to see Hawkwind get into. At the moment we seem to be more of a rock band than anything. But I’d like to move more into electronics.” (‘Whatever Turned Me On – Dave Brock’s Influences’ - New Musical Express, 05.08.72)
[CHRONOLOGY] 1971: Charged With Cosmic Energy
Ref: p46 – Hawkwind also first came to the attention of the national media in 1971, though not for any musical reasons. On 18 January, the Daily Mirror ran a story about Terry Ollis appearing naked during a gig at the Breaks Youth Centre, Hatfield (“Drummer Strips At A Pop Show”).
Ref: p48 – Andy Dunkley had DJed at a number of Hawkwind’s 1970 shows eg. at Friars, Aylesbury and the Lyceum, London, though it’s probable he didn’t start regularly working with the band until 1972. In an interview in Sounds (‘Dig The Showbiz’, 30.7.74), he confesses to “hating” Hawkwind when he first heard them, but was persuaded to persevere with the band by “a lady he quite fancied.” He goes on to describe them as a “rock mantra, repetitive but changing.”
Ref: p49 – There can’t have been too many hard feelings around Dave Anderson’s departure, as Amon Din, the band he'd formed with Huw Lloyd-Langton, supported Hawkwind just a few weeks later on 27 October at the Dorothy Ballroom, Cambridge, plus 4 December at the Starlight Rooms, Boston. This also dispels the myth that Lloyd-Langton completely fell out of Hawkwind’s orbit following his departure. According to Anderson, Lloyd-Langton played with the band a number of times during 1971, and this was the main reason why Anderson recruited him as Amon Din's guitarist. (In fact, there's photographic evidence of Lloyd-Langton playing with Hawkwind, possibly standing in for Dave Brock, on 20 March 1971 at the Liverpool Stadium.)
Ref: p51 – CORRECTION: “12 - Although in 1971, he had just stepped back from full-time editorship.” Michael Moorcock actually remained at New Worlds until 1973, albeit as editor of the bi-annual paperback format it had adopted in 1971.
Ref: p54 - CORRECTION: "Produced by: Olympic and AIR Studios". Oh dear. That should of course say "Produced by: Hawkwind and George Chkiantz".
Ref: p55 - CORRECTION: "...a higher, more aggressive chant of “Shouldn’t!” kicks in." Having cleaned my ears out, it's clear that the chant is actually "Do That!"
Ref: p57 - "‘We Took The Wrong Step Years Ago’, another of Brock’s 12-string polemics..." Note the 'seagull' sounds at the start of this song (and 'You Know You're Only Dreaming'), produced by DikMik's audio generator. Four years later, 'The Demented Man' will also feature seagulls, though this time real ones.
Ref: p58 - "2 - Brock’s love of The Steve Miller Band perhaps gets the better of him here, as there’s an uncanny resemblance to ‘Jackson Kent Blues’ (from 1970’s Number 5)." In fairness, the opening riff to 'You Know You're Only Dreaming' isn't an uncommon one - for instance, here it is on Family's 'How-Hi-The-Li', from their 1969 album Family Entertainment (thanks to Hawkfan Andy King for the tip-off). And listen to what Chicago (and three of The Beach Boys) do to it on 'Wishing You Were Here' from 1974's Chicago VII.
Ref: p59 - "In Search Of Space spends 19 weeks on the UK album charts, peaking at number 18." This statement needs some qualification. Released on 8 October, In Search Of Space doesn't actually get into the charts until 5 November, and then just for one week at no.44. It continues to pop up sporadically over the next few months, before beginning an unbroken run of 15 weeks on the charts from 29 July to 4 November, coinciding with the runaway success of 'Silver Machine'. It peaks at no.18 on 9 September 1972, 11 months after its release.
Ref: p62 - CORRECTION: "j - ‘Del On The Beat’ – Beat Instrumental, December 1971" The title of this piece was actually 'In Search Of Space - Hawkwind'.
Ref: p62 – “1… the front cover title – by which the album is sometimes referred – reads Xin (or X In) Search Of Space, inviting allusions to Brit sci-fi films such as The Quatermass Xperiment and X The Unknown.” Of course, it could also be a sly reference to Group X… I sometimes wonder whether it actually might have been better if Hawkwind had retained their original name, hinting as it does of something new, mysterious and slightly threatening. If you stare at the front cover long enough, it becomes clear that the stylised hawk behind the main emblem could also be seen as a giant 'X'...
Hawkfan Pedro Bellavista believes it should be read as ‘Xin’ and was a nod to eastern philosophy by Barney Bubbles – pronounced ‘hsin’, it’s a word frequently used in Chinese daily life, and translates as: heart; mind; feeling; intention; centre. And in the Frendz Sonic Assassins comic strip, it says “Follow the adventures of Hawkwind on ‘Xin Search Of Space!’”.
However, when I spoke to Nik Turner, he simply said, “We needed an album cover and Barney did it – we didn’t have a title and he gave us the title X In Search Of Space. X was there as a mistake, but we kept it there.” So, Barney came up with the title as well as the cover design, but as for that ‘X’, who knows…?
STOP PRESS: I recently spoke to Terry Ollis, who said, "It’s Xin Search Of Space, not X In Search Of Space. Barney Bubbles said to me, it’s pronounced ‘Zin’. But what that means, I don’t know!" So much for my sci-fi B-movie ideas...
(There had actually already been a band called Group X. They released the fabulously titled ‘There Are 8 Million Cossack Melodies, And This Is One Of Them’ on Fontana in 1963, an excellent Shadows-esque instrumental. The title is a reference to the payoff line of popular American cop show Naked City: “There are eight million stories in the naked city. This has been one of them.”)
[ESSAY] The Making Of A People's Band
Ref: p74 - CORRECTION: "6... (‘Del On The Beat’ – Beat Instrumental, December 1971)." Again, the actual title of this piece was 'In Search Of Space - Hawkwind'.
Go to 1972-1974