Poetry in Motion

Disc Magazine – 25 August 1973

“Hawkwind’s Bob Calvert flying high with Captain Lockheed…¦while shooting down Marc Bolan.”

Despite the appearance and possible hit of Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters their inventor Bob Calvert remains primarily a poet.

“Albeit one of the most highly paid poets in the world,” he admits.

Bob has been reading poetry with, and writing lyrics for Hawkwind for ages now, and before that was a poet in his own right and even went on television reading some of his sickly love verses. He has just surfaced very sanely from a nervous breakdown and is staunchly proud of his profession while just beginning to branch out as a playwright.


“It’s all very well for Marc Bolan to call himself a poet. He’s quite a quaint singer and writes fun lyrics; but to say he’s a poet and to toss together a book of jottings that any self-respecting poet would throw out the window is a bit much.”

Bob has had the idea of Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters for a long time, and the single is just a part of an album, which in turn is part of a big stage production.  The album is currently being recorded with people like Hawkwind and ex-Roxy, Eno; it is called “Hero With A Wing” and subtitled Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters.

The plot -which is the same for the stage production- is based on fact. In 1958, Franz Joseph Strauss, Chancellor of West Germany, reviewed the state of the air force and announced that it was imperative to build up the somewhat pathetic ranks with Lockheed Starfighters. These were revolutionary machines – the first link between a piloted missile and fighter plane.

He wanted 700, the government said they could only afford 250, and the planes duly arrived. The German pilots weren’t used to these new machines, which had been slightly modified to order, and a series of terrible crashes began. In all, 159 planes crashed and the whole business has been remarkably hushed up ever since.

The stage version will contain long narrative passages, and Viv Stanshall, Keith Moon and Arthur Brown will all, hopefully, take part.

Laconic“Arthur is definitely the bloke to play the Gremlin – that’s the mythological thing that pilots talk about jokingly as causing faults. And I think Eno would be wonderful as a lounging, laconic pilot.”

For the first time Bob has written the music as well as the words.  “I want it more musical than Hawkwind things. The single is very into the Germanic style of rock that Hawkwind are part of, where the melody tends to get subjugated by the solidity of the hypnotic beat.  But I want to use melody as a way of conveying lyrics; two of my favourite song writers are Noel Coward and Cole Porter.”

– Caroline Boucher

A Plastic Fragment Hawkwind Press Cutting

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