By Chris Stigliano
AS time goes on, and from our safe vantage point here in the mid-90s, we can safely say that the 1960s were definitely a crucial turning point in Modern World History.
On one hand that decade virtually ruined everything that the past few thousand years of Civilization was yearning for (technological salvation in health and general living, recreational fun and games) with a "return" to the horrid ways of the past (shamanistic "back to nature" mentalities etc.) that the average person was trying to avoid all these years.
The freeing of the s-xual drive has brought about more ruined lives than can be counted whether it be via disease or the acceptance of aberrations as perfectly "normal" ideals (not to mention the deification of the truly evil forces in our society that continue to deny their eugenics past---and present) while the preoccupation with "pacifism" (and the denial of the fact that there are things in this world worth fighting for) and lack of any general direction in life has given us a big ZERO in general popular culture with an emphasis on entertainment, from unfunny comedians, dramatic TV shows with sleepwalking actors and bland plots (violence is BAD, but gratuitous s-x can be a "beautiful experience") and popular culture which relies totally on animal instinct, style, glitter and unbridled emotion but no substance.
It won't be until the current, wiser group of youth who're only now rejecting the ultra-liberalism of their parents and teachers finally take over the reigns in what, twenty years or so, that we'll finally get back to a (Western) Civilization/life that will STAND for something worthwhile just as the culture of the pre-hippie 20th Century did before a bunch of elites decided that the past 10,000 or so years (y'know, Aristotle and all that) were just a waste of time, but until then, you better just huddle in your bunkers with copies of FUNHOUSE and stacks of Bangs-era CREEMs because it really is gonna be a long haul.
Of course there's a flipside to all this late-60s condemnation, and that has to do with the CREATIVE edge of that particular decade (or at least the last three/four years of it---we all KNOW that the real energy and style of the 60s happened before the "Youth Rebellion" and boring hippie jamz took place)...out of all this destruction and re-inventing of culture and society came a creativity in rock & roll that continues to amaze the true rock & rollers amongst us to this day.
Not necessarily in hippie haven San Francisco whose only important claim to fame in the late 60s belonged to Big Brother and the Holding Company, Blue Cheer, the Flamin' Groovies and perhaps a few garage aggregations like the Mystery Trend and Final Solution nor did it come from Jimi Hendrix... more likely it came from Detroit where a whole movement of groups didn't bother to forget their punkiness and extrapolated on the "Louie Louie"/"Hey Joe" theme to the point that the MC5, Stooges, Up, Rationals, Alice Cooper etc. became a major force in a truly populist rock & roll movement, ignored by the socialist intellectuals at STONE yet important enough to influence teenage garage beings as far away as Europe and Australia for the next decade.
Velvet Underground were always thought of
as shucks by the West Coast image makers and spent their days touring
low-rent bars and college gyms, but their music also made more of an impact
with the real rock & roll fan of the day than the aforementioned Social
Reformers/Planners would like to believe.
too was a breeding ground for rock & roll---still reeling over becoming
a hot property after the British Invasion effectively jolted the nation
out of 2000 years of bad teeth and worse food, the once-world power suddenly
found itself back on top with its high energy music scene.
These and many other English groups were helping to change the music scene in the late-60s, many times thanks to John Peel and his growing popularity (as weIl as his free form radio show which featured such acts as a rule) and the underground mags such as INTERNATIONAL TIMES which kept up on truly underground doings in a way that made ROLLING STONE look like a house organ for the IWW.
were one of the few groups to emerge from the budding
London scene to make good---and without sacrificing any of their original
vision for commercial viability as weIl.
made their auspicious debut on this planet during the autumn of 1969,
a prophetic time considering how they were destined to take hold of the
early-70s UR underground scene within a relatively short timespan...as
"Group X", . they made their first stage appearance at All
Saints Hall, Notting Hill Gate for a ten-minute improvisation,
a rather inauspicious coming out for a soon-to-be superstar band but then
again these things rarely let on as to their future importance.
their name-change, Hawkwind made their first big splash, playing for free
outside the Isle of Wight Music Fest along
with the Pink Fairies, a bunch that were
to become a brother band of sorts to Hawkwind although in many ways the
two groups could not be farther apart.
got to remember that this was 1972, not exactly a fine year for high energy,
underground rock which would soon be getting tagged as "punk" or something
related by pundits and fans of all sorts.
anything, Hawkwind shared more of a credo with the German "Kraut
Rock" groups whose albums were beginning to show up in the import
bins of England and the USA during this time.
course, now having gone beyond their anarchist "music for the people"
roots, Hawkwind was going to have to shape up their act.
SPACE and LP #3 DOREMI FASOL LATIDO,
Hawkwind acquired Lemmy Kilminster,
their third bassist who was discovered by electronics expert Mik when
the latter temporarily quit the group to go on an abortive jaunt to
India (he was "replaced" by synth player Del
Dettmar who was kept on anyway despite the return of Mik
maklng for more aural spazz in the air).
were being remade/remodeled even more for the bigtime. They appeared
on TOP OF THE POPS playing "Silver
Machine" live, and set upon a British tour in which they actually
headlined, supported by Magic Muscle
(a group that almost seemed like a Hawkwind homage more than
FASOL LATIDO was the first step towards TOTAL TAKEOVER by Hawkwind.
A brilliant album featuring some outright Hawkwind anthems like "Brainstorm"
and "Space is Deep" (which was later "rewritten"
by Pere Ubu as "Final
Solution"), Hawkwind had traveled
far from their more easy- going roots into a high-energy Velvets-riff
sphere that, like the best of the early-70s high-energy consciousness,
satisfies even to this day.
Naturally this tour was going to be a resounding success with every freak kid in England in attendance to experience the wild, screeching music. (One of these longhairs who in fact had the honor of roadieing Hawkwind's equipment on this tour was John Lydon---yes, he of Rotten fame.)
Given the resounding artistic/musical success, United Artists issued a 2-LP live set (remember, this was the 7Os when every artist had a 2-LP live set, usually recorded in Japan, on the market) culled from two shows aptly entitled THE SPACE RITUAL ALIVE IN LIVERPOOL AND LONDON which became the pinnacle of Hawkwind's career.
Not only were the performances
perfunctory ("Down Through the Night", which
appeared in an acoustic form on DOREMI, was vastly improved in an electric
setting), but the record was packaged in the high quality expected of
UA complete with a day-glo pic of a nude woman (Stacia?) on the cover
which REALLY guaranteed high sales amongst 14-year-old boys.
SPACE RITUAL became Hawkwind's shining moment, and for a gathering
of their best tracks performed in a live setting it works swell.
ON THE EDGE OF TIME followed, appearing on Atco
in the States as United Artists here had
dropped the failing Hawkwind. Despite
the equally dippy cover, WARRIOR skips between
riffdom and instrospection at about the same pace as MOUNTAIN
GRILL, complete wlth a memorable rocker (in thIs case, "Kings
of Speed") and lotsa squeals from Simon House's
synth (Dettmar havlng also abandoned ship).
Stlll, the most interesting Hawkwind release of the mid-70s wasn't even theirs...Robert Calvert's CAPTAIN LOCKHEED AND THE STARFIGHTERS, a concept album about the rearmificatlon of Nazi Germany, was released in 1974 sometimes between MOUNTAIN GRILL and WARRIOR, proving to be a big hit wlth the Hawkwind fans not only because most of Hawkwind (along with some Pink Fairies) backed Calvert, but because, despite being a concept album, the thing rocked out like something out of DetroIt, which shouldn't be a surprise glven that the Stooges' Asheton Brothers performed "The Right stuff" while ln Dark Carnival, while Cleveland's Mirrors (who certainly kept an ear open not only towards the Velvets and Stooges but Hawkwind and thelr spawn) performed "Ejection" live as well.
LOCKHEED was continually in the "Import" Top Ten lists printed
weekly in the CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER's "Friday" magazine supplement during
the early days of 1975.)
It was right about
this time (spring '75) that things really started happening to the band,
beginning with Lemmy's ouster when he was
arrested for allegedly carrying amphetamine sulfate (customs thought it
was coke) while crossing the us/Canadian border on tour.
By now, Hawkwind
were appearing on the Famous Charisma Label,
then best known as one of the major progressive rock companies in Merrie
Brock was calling the assemblage playing
behind him Hawklords (Turner
had claimed the rights to the Hawkwind name as that was his nickname...he
an various ex-Hawkwinders even planned a band "the Kittyhawks" to perform
as "the REAL Hawkwind" but that never happened) and reports of that were
mixed...considering we were by now heading into the late-70s comparisons
to Devo were being made which really isn't a good sign.
and Hawkwind bumped into each other in the
studio and Mr.Toad himself joined up when Simon King's drugs got the best
Naturally, the Hawkwind
saga continues from here on... Turner rejoined
the band from '82 to '85 before leaving again for good, while Brock
found out that as long as you have, a PAST that might have had a shred
of marketability, you can do some pretty good coasting.
The latest chapter
in the Hawkwind story has (in Ginger Baker fashion) TWO Hawkwinds, one
led by Brock (he claiming the original lineage
of the name) and the other led by Turner
(who has with him ex-Chrome guitarist Helios Creed
and various ex-original Hawkwinders like Del Dettmar)
who's calling his aggro "the People's Hawkwind"
in true "sixties" fashion.
As long as Brock and
Turner live, there will be a Hawkwind.
(Mucho thanks goes to BTC-fan Larry Boyd for help with this article. Also thanks to Mick Gaffney for various xeroxes...both your help was greatly appreciated.)
© 1995 Reprinted with permission