Hawkwind……

 

Andrew Branch interviewed me in February about the David Bowie/Ziggy gig I saw in 1973. He asked me how Hetro males were able to perceive Glam rock, which was essentially a very androgynous type of Rock’n’Roll. I told him, at school the more macho lads liked the Faces and Slade, thus avoiding being identified as part of a perhaps more open minded crowd. Of course Bowie’s albums out sold any other, so there must have been quite a few “closet” buyers!  And certainly Rod Stewart had a number of camp moments(!). “Make up? Bloody make up?!” as Bowie once quoted Mick Ronson as saying. Odd that as a 16 year old boy, with just a hint of slap, the girls found me even more fascinating than usual! As Mick Tucker from the Sweet once said “Yeah, sure we’re Gay, now where’s yer girlfriend?”. But what really stuck out in the chat was the realisation on my behalf how important Hawkwind were in Rock’n’Roll evolution, as the transition between “Progressive” Rock(originally termed Underground music or Freak Rock at the time)Glam, and indeed Punk Rock.

Will and I as 14 year olds loved John Lennon’s solo output, “Power to the people” “Instant Karma” and both Plastic Ono Band albums. We worshipped Lennon and the Beatles. We were hip little buggers, we read the Underground press, Oz, It, Friendz, and we loved the Freak Brothers comics, and were delighted when Nasty Tales and Cozmic Comics came on the scene as an English equivalent. We wore our hair long, smoked Number 6 cigarettes(with added grumble),and went to see a lot of the great groups 0f the era. A band we loved in the day, pre Glam infamy were Mott the Hoople. I told Will he should splash out his birthday dosh on “Brain Capers”, which I’d spotted in Mid Essex television, an electrical appliance shop in Maldon that sold vinyl records. The cover intrigued me, as did the free “Lone Ranger” mask stapled to it. And when Will did finally buy “Brain Capers” what a treasure we’d found. Mott’s Stones influence shone through, all swagger and lurch, as did Ian Hunter’s Dylan fixation. The sum total was good time Rock’n’Roll with a seriously bad attitude, Mick Ralphs unique guitar, great tunes courtesy of Mr Hunter, with Ian’s Rock’n’Roll poetry/lyric, a la Chuck Berry on E, soon to be exploited further in their Glam years. And like all great Rock’n’Roll, it sounded like it could fall apart at any moment. Perhaps the seeds of English Punk were being nurtured there? And if the Sea Divers(Mott’s fan club from the 70’s) are anything to go by, certainly some of Punk’s main shakers and movers(Mick Jones for one)were influenced by them.

Hawkwind came out of the Ladbrook grove scene in London, in the late 60’s/early 70’s, the same scene that spawned the Deviants and the Pink Fairies, and in 1976, the Clash. Ladbrook grove became a centre of Hippy lifestyle activity in the early 70’s, with squatting and communal life.

The first we heard of the Hawks was the Summer ’72, with the number 3 hit single “Silver Machine” , a head banging Psychedelic delight. Featuring new boy Lemmy on bass and lead vocals, its popularity gave them their five minutes in the charts and more exposure to a mainstream audience, which was critical. After that, Will got “In search of space”, and listening to it again, aside from the spaced out raunch, tracks like “We took the wrong step years ago” and “Children of the sun” demonstrate Dave Brock’s Folk and acoustic leanings, no doubt a remnant from his busking days.  We’d also lapped up the Moorcock books, with his futuristic tales of sword and sorcery, a kind of Conan for the Star Trek generation.

Will and I first saw Hawkwind at the Sundown in Brixton, on the Space Ritual tour, post Christmas, 1972. An incredible event, and not just for the massive Cosmic woosh of the band’s indelibly English Space Rock. For a start there were lots of Freaks and real Hippies in attendence. And it smelt like everyone was smoking something tasty! The perfume of incense and Patchouli was every where, and the Pagan vibe that bled through to the “Crusties” culture had it’s heart at Hawkwind gigs. Strangely tho’ we didn’t really drink at that point, yeah the odd bottle of cider. I remember I could slip whatever imperial sized bottle it was, into the unstitched pocket of my fur coat(dyed rabbit for the concerned, fresh off the back of some recently deceased old lady. The Oxfam shop was amazing in the early seventies, a cornucopia of late Victorian/early 1920’s clothing). I’d seen Martin Newell wearing a fur  when he played keyboards with the band featuring Helen Terry and all(at the British Legion hall, see Punk 1)and I thought he was cool. The poor man’s Afghan coat if you will. Well Jimi Hendrix and John Lennon wore one! Except I bought mine from Oxfam, and no doubt Martin did too……

The P.A. was very loud, tho’ I don’t recall a support band or DJ, but Andy Dunkley was the official MC. There was another thing you could guarantee at Hawkwind gigs, idiot dancing! Idiot dancing I venture, was a throw back to the festivals in the late 60’s/early 70’s, when a lot of people took LSD and were moved to dance. Perhaps some of my readers may remember a fellow who attended many of the festivals of that era, he had long flowing white robes, bare feet and really long blonde hair, with an odd, cut straight across type fringe. Every one called him Jesus. I kid you not!!! And certainly once he got into a real groove, well this was termed “Idiot Dancing”. But equating dancing with the Hawks can only mean one thing……Stacia!

Stacia Blake was the first woman Will and I saw naked, proper, in the flesh, so to speak. Her dancing added to the otherworldly vibe of the gig, her body painted with symbols and hearts and stars and all manner of cosmic strangeness, again something the Crusty culture took on board.  The costumes she wore were pretty far out too, sometimes Bodecia, sometimes Wonder Woman, all of them rather Superhero-eque and sexy. Stacia for me initially was rather scary, she must have been the first woman to dance naked on an English stage. And I found her nudity intimidating, it’s a naked woman in your face fer Christ’s sake! But once the fear and perving abated, how lovely. A brilliant add on to the cosmic swirl. Perfect for a 16 year old lad really……

With Dave Brock’s Cozmic boogie guitar, Nik Turner’s “Acker Bilk on Acid” clarinet wibbles, Lemmy’s bass chords and ripped throat vocal(and he’s still wearing those white Grebo boots!) and the mad scientist analogue synth noises of Dik Mik(which Will absolutely loved) the sum noise total, super enhanced by Liquid Len’s psychedelic lights(and the blinking lights on all their wonderful amps and devices), and Stacia’s Isadora Duncan as-an-android ballet, was totally mind blowing!

And as Will and I caught the tube train back to Earth, post gig, shell shocked, psychedelicised, alien-ated and high, the clatter of the rails sounded pretty cozmic to me too. Another big Silver Machine…..

Surely without their Space Rock assault,  Glam rock would’ve been harder on the ears, and the outlandish garb less easy to swallow. After all, they came from a Moon orbiting Ziggy’s planet……

I know it’s wrong, but I love this……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF2ODWluPlY

And this……

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6AOAhE3IhU

Awlright Tel?

And Fergie from Cell block H, twinnned with Lemmy, separated at birth?

7 Responses to “Hawkwind……”

  1. Cool article, Terry! It brought back a few memories – and some things i didn’t remember at all!

    Brixton may have been the first time you saw Hawkwind, but i saw them first at the Mile End Sundown – which, according to http://hawklord.com/hw/HWgiglist.html , was in October 72. I’ve still got quite strong memories of that gig – although they’re mostly very vague after all these years.

  2. Barn sent me this via Facebook:
    Ahhhh Stacia,….. a natty little piece Tev, my memories of them are of a year or two later which involve muddy fields, free porridge and the Release tent. If you told the youth of today…blah blah….

  3. Hi Terry..
    In my ‘early years’ Hawkwind were a mystery. I only knew Silver Machine and assumed them to be either 1-hit-wonders or some underground cult band that your mum wouldn’t want you to go and see.
    So it was with a heightened interest, when I was fortunate enough to play at Glastonbury in 2008, that I was introduced to Mick Slattery and Terry Ollis, totally unknown to me, but amiable chaps who didn’t make a big deal of having been in an early version of HW. Later that weekend we were introduced to Nik Turner, who joined us for a particularly messy ‘jam’ that evening…a really affable guy..not at all pretentious, and willingly shared his idea that the NHS and doctors in general were out to ‘cull the population’ not cure it! Rolling on a couple of weeks, we supported Nik Turners Space Ritual and met HW’s only female singer, Bridget Wishart (?), who I recorded 2 songs with for a CD of hers. Within a month or so I was asked to do a track with Bridget, Harvey Bainbridge, Simon House and Daevid Allen…Mmmmmm, now, that would be the same Daevid Allen I met at Glastonbury 2009 with Gong…dressed as a rabbit?

    I really should start listening to a Hawkwind album…I don’t have any of their work, but apparently everyone else on the planet does!
    I’m afraid HW, and bands of that ilk are still a mystery to me, weird..but totally and utterly likeable!

    DS

  4. Ok, I’m festivaled-up, can some one illuminate me as to the date I ( and Will, Coffer and Barn ) saw Hawkwind, Arthur Brown and Kingdom Come, in the park at Harlow?
    Answers on a signed blotter sheet of Oswold’s finest……

  5. I’m not even going to make a guess on the date of Hawkwind at Harlow, but I do remember it was from a time when enlightened councils sponsored free gigs. Friendlier times as well; I recall walking behind the stage as we’d spotted the boys from the band playing frisby and had a chat with ’em (Dave Brock’s frisby throwing wasn’t the most accurate that day). I saw Lemmy in later years in Hammersmith at Motorhead’s debut gig supporting the fabulous Blue Oyster Cult (‘on your feet or on your knees’ please). Motorhead did not impress and, for the first time, I left the band to get a beer only to find the bar was packed with everyone else who found a glass of warm theatre lager more appealing than the band. Motorhead tightened up of course but my fond memory of Lemmy is at Harlow machine-gunning us with his bass.

  6. What a fantastic read terence. Love on ya x

  7. As a photographer’s gopher, aged 16. Stacia also was my first experience of a naked woman. Edinburgh Playhouse, Lothian Road. Just putting it out there!

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