> Paul Hayles

Robert Calvert

Paul Hayles, ca. 1977 Paul Hayles

Just a few memories of Bob from 77-78.
He moved down to Devon and rented a small isolated cottage a couple of miles up the road from where I lived at the time - on the road from Chittlehampton to Chittlehamholt in North Devon - Straw Dogs country!!!
This was when, if you had long hair, getting served in quiet country pubs could be problematic.

We had lived in the area for a few years already. There was quite an influx of 'hippies' from the city in the early seventies, not well received by the Colonel Blimp types who ran the area. We were always getting visit from the police looking for drugs, runaway schoolgirls, dogs chasing sheep, etc. Dave Brock was already in the area too.

Paul Hayles playing with ARK - before turning a SONIC ASSASSIN

Bob was considered a bit of a weirdo by the local freak community, not helped when he took a car for a test drive with a popular hippy lass called Jenny. He wrote the car off in an accident and broke her neck in the process - she recovered OK happily. But it was that experience that led to the writing of Death Trap, one of the numbers first performed and recorded by Sonic Assassins - I played the keyboard part which was the main rhythm instrument, on a Wurlizter electric piano played through a distortion pedal.

Bob Calvert - in an elegant phase...I remember getting a call saying that we were all to meet up in Barnstaple to talk about rehearsals and doing a gig so we were hanging around in the market wondering which pub we were going to
when we got a message saying that Bob was in this quite smart and oldie worldie hotel. We all went round there getting strange looks from the clients and staff and found him in a sort of private room at
the back where cream teas had been ordered for everyone. There was this side of him that liked to be kind of upper class intellectual. I think this was part of his appeal to women. I know my first wife
(half French half Czech and increasingly middle class) generally had no time for my musician friends but thought Bob was wonderful, a cut above the rest.

He was very touched when we gave him the kitten just before we said goodbyes and moved to France and was quite soppy about it - he could be like that, sensitive and touchy-feely but would loose these sides of his character when the band was around and present himself as tough or aloof. When he had this trouble with cars and had been threatened after smashing up this car while giving it a trial run, he was ranting and raving about going round there with a gun!!

We rehearsed Sonic Assassins in a tiny village hall at Umberleigh in Devon attracting even more attention to our small freaky community. But Bob got a bit skittish about the gig just before it and it was touch and go as to whether he would actually turn up. The gig was organised at the Queens Hall Barnstaple, just before Christmas 1977 - safety limit audience of 720. It was a sell out (mind you, my previous band ARK could sell it out too: there was quite a demand for spacy music in the area.

You can tell that Bob was a bit out of sync with the rest of us on the live recording. There is a point where Dave and I were jamming with synths when you hear Bob calling out „Stop the gypsy music" as he thought we were going into Masters of the Universe. But then he brilliantly improvised the words to what turned out to be a new song - Over the Top.

Bob could change quite abruptly from being friendly to distant. He was a poet and sometimes not sure what he was doing with a rock band. At the start of the following US tour in early 78 he was obviously not happy. We arrived in New York along with a heavy snowstorm and he was keeping himself to himself in the main although he did come with Dave and me to see the recently out Star Wars. Dave seemed to want to get to him a bit and persuaded me to join him (complete with face masks) in pretending to assault and rob Bob in his City Squire hotel room. Bob freaked at being 'robbed' and freaked even more when he realised it was a set up and a joke - he did not see the funny side.

I didn't play the first gig (at the Bottom Line Club) and was as amazed as the rest of the band to see Bob sitting on stage reading a newspaper whenever he was not actually required to be singing.
It was suggested I should sing backing vocals on three or four numbers which I practised and which I could do - I don’t like my voice but I always sing in tune an have sung lead vocals with three bands at least. At the end of the first gig where I sang these parts I asked the sound guy, Denis, what they had been like. He told me he didn’t really know as Bob had told him to cut me out of the mix in case I got it wrong.

He was a typical poet - sensitive and as nice as anything one minute and then a wild man the next.
And he also had a touch of the perfectionist about him which was often contrary to the spirit of Hawkwind which could be rather anarchic and rough and ready (mind you, not nearly as much as the
image the band tried to project).

He was a great poet/artist if in a bit of a state some of the time mentally - but not drug induced like so many others - he was quite clean living, definitely cleaner living than the rest of the band and entourage - so I was sadly surprised when he had a heart attack.

Paul Hayles; March 2006

...and here are a few more memories by Paul Hayles, written around 1997.

more infos on Paul Hayles

  • many more infos on the former and current projects of Paul Hayles can on his own website: www.lastwindmusic.com

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