I wrote a letter to Bob making comments about all the things I liked
about his writing style and mentioned that I'd love to learn how
to write like he does - someday.
Brian Tawn forwarded the letter and
Bob wrote back thanking me for all the nice comments. He mentioned
his past military experience and said that we seem to have something
in common, "Why don't we try to keep a correspondence going?"
After I got out of the Navy, I left America and moved to England
for college. So the first time I met Bob was at his Queen
Elizabeth Hall gig. He was very friendly, enthusiastic, and
amusing. Very quick with a pun. Pretty much, this is how he was
at the gigs I attended. He had a keen wit. Finely focused. With
a knack for viewing the ordinary - in unusual and unique ways.
The lyrics I
was writing back then, were very much Calvert inspired.
That's what I was trying hard to write. Learn how to write. Something
that might remind people of his style. Though, I realized they would
never come close to anything as brilliant as Bob's own work. Yes,
that elusive holy grail once again!
got a new set of coconuts I'm banging together as I skip over the
horizon... keeping an eye on that Calvert grail. I've teamed up
with a good group of Knights for the quest.
FAR FLUNG are
about to release a concept album based on a poem I wrote. The CD
is titled "The Raven that ate the Moon". So be warned
and keep an eye to the sky. Space will never be the same. So go
check out FAR FLUNG
on the Collaborations
& Relations page and get ready to kiss your Moon goodbye!
FAR FLUNG are primed for the millenium.
On a typical Calvertian dialogue tactic (incl. a reference to Roger
Zelazny / Damnation Alley):
carry a book with me when I went to gigs - at one of Bob's sound
checks I turned up with an American copy of a Roger Zelazny book.
A short stories collection that probably hadn't been released in
Britain at the time.
I got heavily into Zelazny after having seen the movie Damnation
Alley and noting that Hawkwind
were apparently into his books.
I was married back then and happened to be in a U.S. Navy commissary
in Pearl Harbour, going through the record bins -- A-Z. That's when
I found out about...Quark,
Strangeness and Charm. (Ironically, my birthday's the same day
Bob saw me enter
the hall and smiled. As I walked over to join him, I reached into
my coat pocket to extract the Zelazny book - his eyes, like eagles'
locked on the object in my hand.
Before I even had a chance to get out a work Bob quickly asked,
"Can I borrow that book?"
Trying to look and act flabbergasted I retorted, "Borrow?"
Bob's smile quickly vanished and he looked very bemused. Most likely
reviewing our previous dialogue. Puzzling over it.
I grinned, "Hell, I was going to give it to you. I've just finished
it and thought you might not have seen this one.
Bob mentioned that he hadn't and commented that he felt Zelazny's
best books were his earler ones...but, he would like to read this
one all the same.
He paused briefly and then casually stated, "You know..I've met
My face registered surprise and awe, "You have?"
Bob straightened up and took on a dignified air....much like the
peacock does, expanding like bellows -- proudly fanning its feathers.
"Yes, I have."
I was hanging on his every word...like a wet towel clamped firmly
on a clothes line -- "hanging out" to dry.
"I told him about the songs
I've done based on his stories."
"What'd he say?"
Bob leaned forward, firing off, "WHERE'S MY ROYALTIES!!!"
This just stunned me. My eyebrows launched into the stratosphere...leaving
my mouth gapping in the wind - far below.
A large mischieveous smile spread across Bob's face as he casually
"No, he didn't say that. I just thought it would sound more interesting.
Actually, he was surprised that somebody had done a song about them.
He didn't know about them."
Bob managed to get an even better surprised look out of me than
I did out of him. He worked in nicely and waited for the best time
to spring it.
Good timing. Excellent delivery. Never saw it coming.
Roger Neville-Neil on a night to remember -
Calvert and his band The Starfighters fighting the weathergods for
the adventure and excitement of preparing for a Brighton concert.
lt sounded to me like a tale of gremlins vs. The Starfighters' determination
to triumph against overwhelming odds.
(Rod serling voice over): "Yet another interesting Calvert
pit-stop along the meandering touring track known as-THE TWILIGHT
England had suffered from these freak storms from time to time that
would send hurricane force winds blasting across the country in
random locations. Trees would topple - impersonating landlocked
versions of river log jams. While smaller an normally inanimate
objects - would make futile attempts at flight. Communities transformed
into large scale wind tunnel agronomy experiments. (As if secret
weather experiments were unleashed by disgruntled mythical storm
gods under covert govemment control.)
were setting up for the Brighton show when one of these wind storms
hit. The power went out in the hall... so the gig would have to
be cancelled. Just after announcing cancellation and rescheduling
of the show for the next day - the power suddenly returned!
During his dialogue, Bob weaved an epic tale of monumental obstacles
and how he found a challenge that wouldn't stop him. The band carried
on with the sound check... while Bob dashed out toward the tarmac.
Outside the hall, he told people, back on the street, that the gig
was cancelled - but they could listen to a FREE PREVIEW of the concert!
Bob was beaming as he related this brilliant idea of turning a setback
into a unique experience. lt was like live theatre, interacting
with this potential audience... urging and convincing unsuspecting
pedestrians to come into the hall for an impromptu show during a
wicked night. Offering refuge and entertainment to the weary and
storm tossed Yes, it did indeed sound exciting and he conveyed this
totally - with flare.
Bob did confess
that it was difficult to sleep that night. The band was sandwiched
tightly inside their van, while the storm raged outside their small
self-contained mechanical environment. I tried to imagine all these
people-- trapped, interacting. The ongoing narratives and dialogues.
The van rocking beneath the uncomfortable, fidgeting musicians.
While outside their shelter - howls of enraged atmospheres probed
the seals of the Starfighters' auto-cafe. No, not much fun at all.
But a night to remember.
The score: Robert: 1, Thor's inquisitors: 0.
a memory-glimpse from the funeral of Robert Calvert:
> I was just
standing there and over-heard a little girl say something to Nik
It was also surreal. She either asked or said something about flowers
growing later...at the site - and Nik replied: "And they'll all
have faces like Bob."
That images kept coming up after I heard it.
These Calvert flowers -- singing.<