>   NIK TURNER                            
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Nik Turner - 1974
> "Robert was an extremly talented
and creative person in many artistic fields -
i.e. Theatre, Poetry, Acting and was involved
in many exciting and innovative projects.

I feel that it is high time that his marvellously creative talent should be recognised and acknowledged as the great influence that he indeed was - and still is."
Nik Turner was one of the earliest and closest friends of Robert Calvert and one of the most important musical collaborators throughout his life.
Apart from that, Turner is the main figure in keeping Calvert's music alive today on stage, as he is frequently playing a number of Calvert's songs at his own gigs.

Once upon a time in Margate...

yes, that's how this life-long-story of Calvert & Turner could really begin. Margate, the half-town-half-amusement-park by the seaside was the place where both Robert Calvert and Nik Turner grew up and got to know each other long before they ended up in the same legendary band named HAWKWIND.

The sunny beaches, the deck-chairs, sea-gulls and the countryside around Margate became a great inspiration for Calvert's later poetical work. In the first part of our heros' life's however, these were the places where people spend their holidays and they boys made their money in the summer that would buy them the precious time of those cold and dreary winter-days, when the town was emptied of tourists and half-professional gamblers, and you could get into all those fantastic ideas of your own....

 to the Margate-memories of Robert Calvert
- an interview from '82 (real audio - 28.8 bps)

Robert Calvert:
"I worked in Dreamland, the amusement park in Margate - did a bit of work on deck-chairs, beach photography and that sort of thing. Nik Turner was selling funny hats at the time. Nik, DikMik and myself used to talk about the sort of band we would get together if we had half a chance. We used to come up quite a lot to London to see bands..."

This was around the mid-60's. Our heroes had just passed their twen-barrier and the Summer of Love 1967 was coming up. What a brilliant coincidence.

Nik Turner:
"1967 saw me working on the beach in Margate in Kent. It was full of speed freaks, mods, alcoholic day trippers from East London, rockers on their big bikes. And me working on the sea front selling stuff, playing sax sometimes, hanging out with all sorts, and I eventually got bored so I went to Holland...."

Arriving on the flattest land of the continent Nik got a job with a kind of psychedelic circus, called The Mobile Freakout
He helped putting up the huge tent, sold beer, ice cream and flowers to the evergrowing audience of hip-hippie people. The musical acts featured in the programme were mostly dutch - and Nik had to pen down these difficult English lyrics for them.
However, there was one British band involved called The Famous Cure, a blues-type of band, featuring a certain Mr. Dave Brock and Mick Slattery - both soon to become co-founders of HAWKWIND.

The Mobile Freakout tour ended - The Famous Cure went back to London, Nik Turner remained for a while in Holland - and later headed back for some more work on the beaches of Margate.

Meanwhile Robert Calvert was also slowly working his way out of the rural countryside to the hot-spot of London:
"I gradually found myself spending more time in London than in Margate - there seemed to be less and less going back for - but there was a lot happening around the Notting Hill area at that time."

So did Nik Turner...
1st Hawkwind line up - live He had stayed in touch with the guys of The Famous Cure. Though the band had disbanded by mid-1969 and Dave Brock went back to busking for a while, he wanted to set-up a new line-up. When it finally came together they called themselves Group-X - Nik heard of the new band and offered himself - incl. his newly bought van - to join them as their roadie. At a rehearsal / jam Nik showed up with his saxophone - got invited to jam with them - and immediately turned into an active band member.

Via his old friend Nik, Calvert was soon to join the band as well - first as their resident poet, later on as their full time lead-singer.
All this has been extensively documented on the Calvert & Hawkwind story in 4 parts - so,    I skip these parts of the story here.

Nik Turner stayed with Hawkwind until late 1976 - and rejoined them for a while in the early 80's.
In those days of the 70's Calvert and Turner turned into the most important front-men of the band - everyone in his own particular style - but both sharing the liking for dressing-up and theatrical elements.

While Calvert supplied the band with the whole poetical and conceptual background, lending the band mostly it's tougher, threatening edge, Turner took delight in the much more playful role - the kind of joker on stage...
As Calvert, especially in his more manic / hyper periods could easily irritate / annoy friends and audiences and also provoke a lot of aggressive responses, Nik is a man who - as my web-friend Phil Franks put it -
"is just oozing good vibrations.".

Who knows, it might be this complementary element that let Calvert and Turner get along well all these times...

Accident prone - and prooved...

Nik's excessive showmanship, however, also brought him in danger from time to time.
At a benefit gig for the Gay Liberation movement the following almost fatal event occured:

electrik-nik "I wore a metal shirt - made with gold thread - I had my saxophone plugged into the amplifier, and we were about to get started. I walked across to the microphone, said, 'Hello', and suddenly there was a huge exlosion and I was knocked over backwards. I hit the speaker cabinets and they fell all over me! The microphone was still in my hand, stuck to it with the power full on. All of ten million volts were going through me, and all I could see was a huge, blue, continuous flashing that I was in the middle of. I could hear these voices in the background, 'Turn the fucking power off!', and everybody was panicking.
But no one did anything about it....
...I could hear my heart beating and it was going 'be-dum...be...dum....be.... ...dum' getting slower and slower...
...I thought 'Christ, I am going to die in a minute'. It was like being locked inside a magnet. I was paralysed. I wanted to get the microphone out of my hand, but I couldn't coordinate my arms.
Then suddenly, the power went off, after what seemed to be about half-an-hour, though It was probably only about 30 seconds. It felt like a long, long time. Fortunately for me, I think, I had taken a large amount of acid before it happened, and that kept me detached enough to stay calm.
When the power went off they were saying 'Cor, thank goodness you're alright!', and I was saying 'Why shouldn't I be? There's nothing wrong with me'. 'But we thought you were dead,'. I thought there was nothing wrong with me until I looked down at my hand and there was this huge fucking hole in it (I've still got the scar) where the microphone had stuck. It had burnt its way through my hand - all my fingertips were burnt too. I had a 3rd degree burn, right inside the flesh.
When I came out of the hospital, I felt fine, so I went back to the gig, got on stage and finished the set with this huge bandage.
After that little affair I liked electricity. I remember one day I was fixing a light socket in my house and I accidentally stuck my fingers into the hole. It felt great!"

At another occassion Nik put the heat on him all by himself - when trying to dip his toes into the art of fire-eating he accidentaly set his arm and hand (this time the other one) on fire.

However, the man survived it all - even his unfortunate half-departure-half-sacking from Hawkwind in which also Calvert took part.

Nik Turner:
"I left the band because I was bored with it, and I think it probably showed in what I was doing. There were certain people in the band who said that if I didn't leave, then they would. It seemed more important to the band, at that time, that I leave rather than them. I just thought, if that's the way they feel about it, then fuck them!"

Nik 1976 - blasting away Robert Calvert:
"Nik had entered a stage where his playing had become rather irksome.
He would blast away throughout the whole set, irrespective of what else was happening on stage. His concentration appeared to have slipped - and it got to the point where, on the eve of the recording sessions for our single Back on the Streets, Paul Rudolph and Simon King said they'd leave if Nik wasn't ejected...
...and in the heat of the moment, Dave Brock and I acquiesced.
Nik's importance, and his presence since the group started, were ignored, and he was fired."

Nik Turner: "I rang Dave, and he began by saying, 'Don't take this seriously, it doesn't mean anything, but we had a meeting without you and decided to sack you from the band!'"

Brock and Calvert later asked him to rejoin the band, but by this time he had become bored with the idea and decided to follow his own paths and ideas.
Looking back on Nik Turner's career since then it seems this was indeed a good move.

Sphynx At first he decided to take a break and made a trip to Egypt - a highly inspiring journey out of which arose his first solo album Xitintoday, released in mid-1978.

The album is soaked in the ancient Egyptian mythology and emplyoying the appropriate oriental sounds.
On this musical journey Turner was supported by various members of another legendary cosmo-psych band: Gong. Amongst these fellow musicnauts was Steve Hillage, with whom Turner later collaborated as well on some of Hillage's projects.

In late 1979 Nik once again headed in yet another musical direction, when he became the co-founder of the proto-psy-punk band Inner City Unit - find more on ICU on their own Collab-Relations page...

Inner City Unit Inner City Unit was also the next musical outfit, that brought Calvert and Nik Turner back together on stage - and even in the studio for one very odd recording.
After Calvert himself had finally departed from Hawkwind in late 1978 he found himself looking out for new musical collaborators.

Obviously the Calvert & Turner connection had remained intact and from the early 80's on Calvert turned up as quite a regular guest at the Inner City Unit gigs. The band then played a lot of Calvert's solo material and various songs he had written for Hawkwind.
With both Turner and Calvert being in top-performative-form these shows could turn into quite inspired lunatic experiences - often culminating in some strange cover-versions. At one gig Calvert even sung Bob Dylan's 'The Times they are a-changin'.

But the wild punkadelic mix of ICU wasn't really suitable for the more minimalistic style Calvert was heading for - and so he remained on his guest-status.
However, when Calvert later formed his own back-up band with the distinctive name Krankschaft, two former ICU member, namely Steve Pond and Fred Reeves became members of it.

Until Calvert's death in 1988, both he and Nik Turner occassionaly showed up for a guest spot at a Hawkwind gig.

Keeping the Calvertian spirit alive...

Since then Nik Turner's music kept on evolving - not only in the 'space-rock' direction. In the meantime he founded the more jazz-oriented Nik Turner's Fantastic Allstars, worked with Pinkwind, featuring a.o. Twink, he's playing with a Ghanean drummer, with Gong's Steffy Sharpstrings doing guest-spots with the Swedish band darXtar and former Inner City Unit members and....

Nik Turner's Space Ritual- 1994 But the most important and productive of all these musical branches has become his collaboration with a group of American musicians - based around various heavily Space-Rock influenced bands.
Most of these activities have evolved around the quite active Cleopatra label, which has released all of Nik's latest solo-albums, backed up by a team of splendid musicians like Helios Creed (former CHROME member), Genesis P. Orridge (Psychic TV / Throbbing Gristle), the Pressurehed members Len del Rio, Tommy Grenas & Paul Fox - and also former Hawkwind members Simon House, Allan Powell & Del Dettmar have supported him on his last US-Tours.

Quite a big part of the live-sets played on these tours consisted of various songs of Robert Calvert.

Nik T. - 1994 Two live albums have been released in the last 3 years: the double CD Nik Turner's Space Ritual '94 and Past or Future in 1996.

The latter one not only features the more regularly played Calvert and Hawkwind - classics but also some of Calvert's later solo-material and his poem Ten Seconds of Forever.

Another highly interesting link to Calvert that Nik Turner has re-established shows up in the guest appearance of Jello Biafra.
The former mastermind of the The Dead Kennedys and one of the seminal figures in American Punk and Hardcore, joined in singing the Calvert / Hakwind classic Silver Machine.
Biafra himself has been an admirer of Calvert and quite influenced by his strategies - as you can read in his statement.

...the Calvertian spirit: Present and Future...

As you can see, the man is more active than ever.
The most interesting - and in my opinion most creative collaboration, however, hasn't been named yet. It's another band from Sweden named The Moor.

They got to know each other via Nik's connection to darXtar - who are friends of The Moor's musical mastermind Kenneth Magnusson.
Nik listened to The Moor and the immediate reaction was:
"I want to join this band.". -- So there.

This collaboration is of course not without complications with Nik living in the wooly wilderness of Wales and the rest of the band being located around Falköping, Sweden. However, via tape exchange Nik contributed some great sax-tunes to FLUX, the latest release by The Moor. (more on FLUX & THE MOOR on their Collab-Relations page.

Nik - Hawkfest 1997 Just recently The Moor did another one of their quite rare live appearances (less than 1 per year is the average so far....).
They played in Hamburg at this year's Hawkfestival - joined by Nik Turner.

They'd decided to play a mixture of The Moor's own tracks - alongside a long strand of songs taken from Nik Turner's 1st solo album Xitintoday.
And yet another strange guest spot was a part of this gig.
Your unhumble webhost in flesh and blood joined the band to deliever some irritating (but suitable, from my point of view) intermissions, reading some poems by Robert Calvert - backed up by some (a bit reluctant) backing noises from the band.

As a matter of fact this whole strange Hamburg gig-package went on 2 tours through Germany and Belgium in 1998 & '99.
Read more about it on THE MOOR's pages.

> Update, Nov. 2003: During the last years, Nik kept up his pretty busy schedule, collaborating with numerous artists, playing and recording - amongst others - with the Finnish band 5.15, doing more gigs in the States - and finally also the troubles btw. him and Dave Brock have been settled.
That doesn't mean that Nik has abandoned his Hawkwind-roots - on the contrary. For about 2 years now, he is constantly gigging with Spaceritual.net - a band he founded, consisting of Hawkwind members from the earliest days of the band - like Terry Ollis, Thomas Crimble a.o.
From what I've heard, their performances - consisting of the early Hawkwind songs - are re-creating those early psychedelic gigs - and it seems they're doing quite a good job on this...

Nik Turner - 200X And apart from that, Nik's moving freely through all kinds of musical territories. With his other regular outfit: Nik Turner's Fantastic All-Stars, he has released an album called 'Kubano Kickasso' - and you can imagine from that title alone, that this is musically quite a few galaxies away from his Hawkwind roots... - when he feels like, Nik is playing Jazz of all sorts, jamming with African drummers...and in general jamming with everyone, when invited to festivals or other events...
You'll find infos on Nik's current & upcoming activities on his own website - see below.

  • the official Nik Turner website - get all the news about the ever-active Mr. Turner

  • NEW: read an exclusive & extensive interview with Nik Turner on Robert Calvert.

  • for more infos on Nik Turner's collaborators and other projects he's involved in - like the band Anubian Lights, have a look at these pages on the Calvert Collab-O-Relators:
    Pressurehed / Anubian Lights and Far Flung

  • the extensive, highly entertaining Nik Turner Interviews - brought to you by our web-friend Phil Franks. He recently visited his friends from the 'ole days again. Meet just two of NIK's numerous alter ego's: Moose Magoon and $id Money...come along to a gig of Nik Turner's Fantastic Allstars and visit Nik's rural home The Cadillac Ranch...every page featuring the newest wondeful Nik-Pics

  • the Inner City Unit homepage - contains infos on the time he spent with ICU and the albums they've recorded - hosted by Steve Pond, ICU's guitarist.