> Lee Broughton

Robert Calvert

Lee Broughton Lee Broughton

> Bob's untimely
death was made all
the more poignant by
the events of the years which proceeded it, which suggested that he was on the brink of a deserved return to mainstream recognition and success.

By the time that Hawkwind had undergone their renaissance in the early to mid 1980's, Bob already had the kudos of being a legendary rock eccentric and maverick.
His place in the true history of rock had already been secured but to casual observers he was just another lost genius along the lines of characters like Syd Barrett and Norman Greenbaum.

In actual fact, Bob was back on his old stomping ground in Kent, keeping busy in a low key way.
He even had his own small mail order outlet which allowed him to get material directly to those who wanted it without the hassles of the corporate music business and the archaic publishing houses.

I got the impression that he was very proud of this venture and had maybe found a degree of inner peace during this period.
However, a string of glowing reviews with regard to his sporadic recorded work and live performances were steadily prompting a higher public profile and this was consolidated by blocks of regular live performances and a virtual mountain of impending work.

A live cassette, an album with The Starfighters, a new solo album, an album and tour with Hawkwind, an album with Amon Düül, a new play and a new book of verse were all reported to be on his busy agenda just weeks before his death.

Bob's undoubted mastery of the English language is the thing that struck me the most. His ability to conjure up marvellous images within just a few lines of verse or song lyric.
His diverse choices of inspiration also impressed me. And his ability to turn the most simplest of observations into a great song.

We've all noticed the luminous green glow of the dials on a dashboard at night but how many of us would think to build a song writing exercise around such a casual observation?

And his ability to return time and time again to favoured subjects, like aeronautics, but to be able to present that same subject in a new and exciting way each and every time.

Bob also had the ability to instil varying degrees of soul and emotion into his cautionary science fiction visions to great effect: Robot, Spirit Of The Age, Psi Power and Thanks To The Scientists all spring to mind.

In fact, virtually everything about Calvert had the power to fire the imagination. Take, for instance, that cryptic sleeve note on the Freq album - "special thanks to Terry Adams and Alex Calvert for motorised rescue operation".
Could it be that Bob, Jerry Cornelius and Dan Dare really had been held captive in a South London warehouse by the allied forces of Bishop Beesley and The Mekon until Terry and Alex, assisted by Digby, came to their rescue in Jerry's purple Phantom VI Rolls Royce?

There's no doubt that, like many artists, there were times when Calvert was forced to confront and struggle with his own demons and, consequently, there were times when he was an extremely difficult person to be around.

Whenever his name is mentioned two words crop up with regularity: 'ego' and 'genius'.
One thing is certain. No matter how large the former may have loomed on occasion, in the long term scheme of things, it could never ever hope to cast a shadow over the latter.

more infos on

Lee Broughton + Agua Caliente [his band]

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