Robert Calvert

Roy Dunn

> My first experience of Robert
was in Australia, around '77 or '78
when I heard Quark Strangeness and Charm played on a local radio.
I couldn't believe that a band would be so cool as to write about Quarks (I had a significant interest in Physics). I rang the radio station to be astonished by the news that it was Hawkwind!

Weren't they a hippy band with a loony saxophonist? When I bought the album and heard the lyrics to all the songs, I realised that this was imagination and creativity well beyond most banal pop song lyricists.

A little research uncovered earlier Hawkwind / Calvert records, and the wonderful solo albums Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters & Lucky Leif and the Longships.

These two albums are timeless. I still listen to them and smile - picturing the situation with the confounded F104G. The Right Stuff and Ejection I will hold dear forever.

In late 1982 I moved to London and started to correspond with Bob after having been put in contact by Brian Tawn. Bob was a haphazard correspondent (reflective of his life in many ways), but we finally met for the first time at a Krankschaft gig. Refined, even debonair in conversation, he had the pleasing quality of listening as well as talking.

He displayed keen interest in the work I was doing (microchip design) and had an incredible ability to grasp high tech. concepts very quickly.
I saw him at just about every London based gig he did with the Starfighters and Krankschaft from then on, and enjoyed his Queen Elizabeth Hall gig immensely. It was apparent to all just how excited he was about this gig - he regarded it (justifiably) as recognition of being a "true artist".

Conversations between us covered topics as varied as computers, genetics (well before Test Tube Conceived!), the gossip of Margate, various memories, Scargill jokes, leather riding boots (I was very envious of his pair), W and Z bozons, and importantly, the pros and cons of pet goldfish. Neither of us had any, by the way. Digital recording (and its sterility) was another favourite topic.

When focussed on a subject, he would engage in nothing else, and follow it through to a sometimes weird conclusion. I remember him talking (for some reason) about Honeywell computers with an amazing amount of disdain, even dissecting the name and pouring scorn on it, yet afterwards happily revealing he had never had anything to do with Honeywell or their computers!!!
Regardless of his mood (which tended to range from nervous and frantic myopia pre-gig to exhausted but relaxed post-gig) he was always courteous, and never played the "rock star" archetype. Indeed, his wife Jill was usually with him, and his first concern was most often her.

That his death was premature is stating the obvious, and I miss him dearly. There is little doubt that he was approaching the threshold of real success and the material he left behind only shows the potential of what things might have been.
I am sure he is up there, showing Einstein and Copernicus the three card trick....

I also met Lemmy at a Hüsker Dü gig at the Marquee, standing by a cigarette machine. I asked him: "Do you ever see Bob Calvert these days?", to which he replied:
"Only in the Funny Farm - he is the only bastard I know who is crazier than me!!"
He then related the Viv Stanshall incident to me with pleasure!! <

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