Hawkwind – Community Band

International Times – 22 October 1970

Hawkwind are a community band.  Strongly rooted in the freak sub-culture of Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill, they -like the Pink Fairies- provide some alternative to the vast numbers of irrelevant, uncommitted rock bands.

They’ve indulged in some hair-raising jams with the Fairies and others at the Bath & Isle Of Wight festivals – at Bath playing from a flat-bed truck on the festival perimeter, and at Afton performing to a motley collection of drug-crazed idiot dancers, anarchists and Hells Angels in the dust outside the main arena.

They’re not a revolutionary band but they bring people together.  They’ve done a lot of free gigs, and want to do a lot more, but the basic economics of keeping a band together are forcing them to be more selective in their choice.

Hawkwind have had some internal problems.  Drummer Terry Ollis f***ed up his arm on acid, and has been temporarily replaced by notorious drummer, drunkard and mandy freak Viv Prince.  Lead guitarist Huw Lloyd Langton split recently, and Thomas Crimble from Skin Alley has replaced John Harrison on bass.  The group is now a five-piece – Dave Brock (vocals, harp, guitar), Thomas Crimble (bass), Terry Ollis / Viv Prince (drums), DikMik (electronics), and Nik Turner (alto sax).  As yet they’ve no plans to get another guitarist, although Mick Slattery, their original lead, is just back from Morroco and could conceivably rejoin the band.  To add to their worries, DikMik was recently busted for acid, but despite the hang-ups they seem to be playing better than ever.

Their music is a strange but effective mixture of hard rock, free improvisation and electronic sounds.  Individually, their musical background is diverse.  Dave Brock started in a New Orleans-style jazz band in 1957, then began busking around Europe.  He used to jam in his local Richmond pub with Clapton, Keith Relf, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones and Duster Bennett, and was featured on a couple of blues anthology albums before joining a blues band in Holland.  Nik began playing clarinet in 1960, switched to a lot sax and later joined a Dutch band called ‘Mobile Freakout’.  Thomas played in various semi-pro bands around Maidenhead before forming the much underrated Skin Alley with drummer Giles Pope.  Terry came straight from working in a scrap-yard, and DikMik was originally a drummer, then Hawkwind’s roadie, before realizing his talent with electronic bleeps and other assorted noises.

The combination works well: Nik’s admiration for the German musician’s commune Amon Duul shows in the band’s free passages, and the blues background provides a solid base for the weirdness of the audio
generator.  Someone coined the name ‘space rock’ and it’s really applicable – the mood’s the thing, and Hawkwind are superb at creating an atmosphere.  They’ve often been compared to the Pink Floyd, which is perhaps unfair as Hawkwind are basically funkier than the Floyd have ever been.  Also, they have a streak of humour that Waters and company seem to lack – musically, at least.

DikMik is currently waiting for a Moog to arrive from the States to join their present audio generator, and as soon as it’s available, they’ll be starting on their second album for Liberty.  The first is selling well -it’s just reached the lower section of the album charts- and their date sheet for the next couple of months is virtually full.

Interviewing Hawkwind isn’t easy.  When we spoke to them, the interview quickly turned into a long conversation on the availability and price of dope, speculations as to how Gracious managed to get a $200,000 advance from Capitol in the States, and opinions on the relevancy of the White Panthers.  Out of the conversation, though, came some of Hawkwind’s plans for the future.

Nik: “We’re definitely going to do a lot more things with the Fairies.  Ideally, we could get together, rehearse a couple of numbers thoroughly, and take it from there.  Sort of a rock’n’roll circus.  We’re going to have a Christmas party at the Roundhouse – probably on December 13th.  It’ll mean we have to charge admission so we can pay for the hire of the place, but there’s going to be free food, and probably free acid.  Split any profits down the middle – half to the Roundhouse, and the rest to the people who need it like IT and Friends.”

DikMik: “The other thing is a free concert next Midsummer’s Day at Stonehenge.  The Dead are going to do it, and Hendrix agreed to appear the day before he died.  It’s a good way to celebrate the summer solstice.”

Hawkwind were going to do a gig for the White City skinheads.  They played at the Wormwood Scrubs thing, and apparently the skinheads dug them so much that they asked if they could go back and do something for them.  Due to a double booking, the date agreed on never materialised, but the group is
planning on doing the gig as soon as possible.

Hawkwind are lucky.  They’ve got a management/agency, Clearwater, that is totally into what they’re doing, and a lot of freedom in the studio.  They’re in the same position as the early Dead: plenty of live gigs, lots of jams, and a total involvement in their environment.  Like I said, they’re a community band.

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting