Baptism of Fire

Sounds – 1 June 1974

FOR THOSE of you who have just returned from your holidays in foreign parts or who have been neglecting your studies of SOUNDS (tsk, tsk) you may be interested to learn that Hawkwind have gained a new member. For those of you who know already, full marks. Award yourself a gold star.

The new member is Simon House. He plays a variety of instruments but concentrates on mellotron, synthesiser and violin on stage. Originally, he was brought in to replace Del Dettmar, on synthesiser who appeared to be about to leave the band.

The more percipient among you may have noticed that Del is still within the ranks. Such is the way of Hawkwind. At the last count there are now four synthesisers in the group. Apart from Simon, Dave Brock plays one and now Del sits out front at the mixer with two.

“It’s a really good idea.” Simon explains, “because he can hear the sound properly and blend his things in better. I only wish I could do the same, because on stage I can really only hear Dave and the drums. But everyone says it sounds really good as it is.”

Simon became an unofficial member of the band just before their last American tour – unofficial because there was no time for him to get a work permit before they left. He did go along as an “observer” with them, however, and managed to jam with them at a couple of gigs.

And how was America?

“Very big. Very extreme – it’s full of extremes of all kinds, the weather for example. We started on the West Coast for a week where it was really sunny, in the eighties. Then we headed East and West – and the weather got steadily worse till in South Bend there was twenty degrees of frost.”

“Then in Nashville the hotel we were staying at was hit by a tornado, which was incredible. 350 people were killed by these tornados. We were watching the radar warnings on TV and Davidson County where we were kept coming up and sure enough. . . . It was amazing, just continuous technicolor lighting.”

A baptism of fire for Simon, perhaps, but his links with Hawkwind go back much further than that. His original band was High Tide – a fine band who made two albums and disappeared.

“There was a gig at All Saints’ Hall, the first that both Hawkwind and High Tide did. That was where Wayne (Bardell, High Tide’s manager) met Doug Smith, where it all happened six years ago.”

” High Tide lasted for three years but eventually fell apart. After it had disintegrated Simon got a call from the Third Ear Band’s roadie (who’d done a few gigs with High Tide) as their violinist was leaving. He joined just before the “Macbeth”, soundtrack album and stayed for two years.

After doing the film, things went downhill until nothing at all was happening and Simon went on the dole to stay alive.

“Then I got a straight job and made lots of money. I worked in a boilerhouse, just sitting there reading. I used to take my violin down to practise. That lasted a year, then I went to America with Hawkwind – which made a pleasant change.”

In the Hawkwind tradition, Simon’ s audition for the gig was less than organised: “It was a complete farce. They were playing at the Edmonton Sundown and I just about got round to playing a few bars, the rest of the time was spent sitting around in the dressing room.

“With High Tide I was crashing at Wayne’s flat at the same time as Tony Hill was, for some strange reason. We got on well, played together and the band built up from there.”

Third Ear Band?

“The roadie gave me Glen Sweeney’s number, I rang him up and joined just like that – no audition or anything. A really weird scene.”

And Hawkwind you know about, which brings us back more or less to the present. When they came back from America they all went to a place called Clearwell Castle on the Welsh border to rehearse the new album which was mainly recorded last week.

Right, that’s it. Any questions? Where was Simon House born? Nottingham. Next? Whatever happened to DiKMik ? Well, he’s still around living in the Grove. He turned up at one of the sessions last week to see everybody. Any more? No? OK

BILL HENDERSON

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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