...welcome to PART
III - the craziest part, probably...
...but the best
songs 'n years in this story are yet to come...
....and they are coming NOW....
* Simon King * Dave Brock
* Alan Powell * Paul Rudolph
saw the return of Calvert to the ranks of the
band. After a guesting at Hawkwind's Reading gig in 1975 Calvert joined
the band once more - this time as their full time lead-vocalist
and frontman - and this should cause an immediate change in the
band's musical style and appearance...
Being in his preferred / natural position as frontman and entertainer,
Calvert introduces an even stronger poetical
and theatrical influence to the recordings and especially the band's
model, used throughout the 1976/77 tours, is a gigantically extended molecular
model - looking, according to it's name like a mixture of Brussel's Atomium
Designed by Larry
Smart (of 'Exploding Galaxy') and Hawkwind's reknown lighting and stage-design
Smeeton - (better known with his company of helping hands as Liquid
Len and the Lensmen), Atomhenge
stretches over the
entire stage and serves at the same time as a projection element.
This stage set-up -
combined with Calvert's elaborate performances
turned Hawkwind's performances far over the edge of anything considered
to be 'just' another ordinary rock concert - their gigs turned in fact
into a fully-fledged rock
A type of performance in which Calvert could integrate his numerous talents:
songwriting, singing, directing, acting, improvising - and entertaining.
all works up to a nice piece of spontaneous theatre. lt's great to be
able to improvise something like that at at the drop of a hat. Rock is
a very theatrical thing, what with body language, gesture, movement, mime
and the like.
Although we're steadily getting into more theatre we're very wary about
it becoming too contrived. In some way, it must grow out of the music."
He created performances
for various songs using countless
props and costumes - the most famous of these is probably his
performance - appearing with top hat, a frock-coat and walking stick,
carrying some chains around his neck...
Calvert is a most compelling onstage figure.
During Steppenwolf he dresses in a very sinsiter fashion with black coat,
black top hat, even - or so it appeared - a blacked out face. Later in
the set he abandons the sombre image and adopts a sword-fighter's role,
brandishing swords and battling with unseen foes."
Read an extensive article on a typical Hawkwind performance
and / or HERE
Days a Week - a one week diary by Calvert, orig. published in the
MELODY MAKER, Oct. '76 - a brief & witty insight into the time preceeding
the Atomhenge '76 tour.]
For Calvert the spontaneity of the shows was always an important aspect
- he used the stageshows also as a kind of laboratory to live out and
experiment with the characters he invented in his lyrics and to experiment
with the ideas and imagery that currently preoccupied him.
A lot of ideas and
inspirations came from books that Calvert was reading by the time - which
subsequently turned into lyrics and stageshows - like in the case of H.
He always worked
in an 'obsessive way' and everything that was 'currently in front of his
senses' could turn into the act - often reappearing onstage in the fusion
of seemingly strange or exotic characters:
main character I play is someone called Aubrey Dawney. He's a sort
of 1914-1918 fighter ace, plus a bit more. Mick
Farren described him as being a cross between Biggles, and
Lawrence Of Arabia -, which he is, he has connections with the Far
East and also Opium smoking."
Hawkwind are the mutations you know and ove.
World War I aviator goggles seem to be the order of the day. Turner
wears them with a long John Silver tricorn hat and Dave
Brock with the debonair grace of the first man to swim
the Atlantic. Bob
must take take the prize.
In black leather jodhpurs riding boots, head scarf and flying
helmet, he comes on like a cross between Biggles and Lawrence
of Arabia with definite S&M undertones."
- the first and only
album this line-up has recorded, gathers a strange and somewhat incoherent
mixture of styles due to the fact that almost every member delieverd a
song. Consequently the quality of the entire album is quite varied - still,
it contains two all-time Hawkwind highlights: the fascinating Steppenwolf
- featuring some of the the best lyrics Calvert ever wrote - and the paranoid
and driving Reefer
Both songs are Calvert / Brock collaborations - pointing the way to Hawkwind's
new energetic and original style.
Keeping up with the
inventiveness of Brock & Calvert's songwriting was (again) the cover
design and concept, featuring yet another sleeve by the late & great
of the UK's
outstanding and most influential designers, and a wonderful quirky
and surreal painting by Calvert's friend Tony
Hyde in the style of early SF pulp magazines.
The inner sleeve accordingly consisted of an assemblage of faked adverts
offering the most dubious services of the band members:
an invitation to Monsieur
Nik Turner's Love House,
Paul Rudolph's Manly-Strap-On-Underwear,
Mr. Calvert's He-Man-Voice-Institute....
However, the power
struggles lying ahead were probably inevitable...
and Powell were blamed by me and Brock for trying to introduce a funky
style. Well, funky music and Reggae
were two styles I was never very fond of..."
In another interview
Dave Brock said that both he and Calvert felt that musical and commercial
'corruption' was creeping in. So, in a sort of 'Stalinistic
purge', as Calvert put it, Paul
Rudolph, Allan Powell and even the long
time member Nik
Turner were shown the door by Brock and Calvert - now sharing control
over the motherboard.
you can read another interview with Calvert and Dave Brock from 1977
- shortly after the split of the 'Astounding...' line-up.
another article on Hawkwind & an interview w. Calvert on the litetary
and theatrical characteristics of his / their work
harsh this process must have been - the co-captains apparently did the
right thing. With Adrian
Shaw as the only new member being drafted in on bass the line
up got tighter - and musically by far more effective - now being able
to develop their entire virtuosity and experimental
/ innovative abilities.
So, when probably most of the music-biz already saw Hawkwind as a dead
man walking, the new line-up balanced out a perfect musical chemistry,
set out to explore new territories - and in 1977 delievered
...though they probably would've never admitted
it then.... -
with some rare ekseptions to proof it - as no other than The
Clash's Joe Strummer, one of the heralds of Punk, cited Hawkwind
as a major influence when talking about The Clash's first record:
to do a Hawkwind version of a song that was familiar to us, and we just
did it within our limitations'.
Calvert on Hawkwind and the current music
is an experimental group at a time when rock music is very conventional;
very conservative. That's the thing that puzzles me about the "New Wave".
It's produced by kids who grown up with the media at their disposal and
yet still their view of the world is so old-fashioned.
Their political ideals seem to be based on really outdated ways of thinking;
influenced by George Orwell. They still believe that a 1930`s vision of
the future applies for our time. (more...)
-- sounds familiar, nowadays as well, doesn't it?
Eventually the band made it's second TV appearance
on Marc Bolan's show to play the album's title track.
on QUARK: "QUARK...
is one of the few albums available at the moment which is very much in
touch with the modern world, and Hawkwind is a band which has always been
in touch with the modern world. The title itself is an expression of modern
physics terminology ... The album contains a selection of musical and
poetical interpretations of the world we live in, including the threat,
not only of nuclear war, but the threat of the Middle East becoming a
very powerful influence on
the future of this globe (...)."
up the qualities of this particular song, which was mainly a Calvert composition,
in his HW history Born to Go: 'Quark'
neatly showcased all the ingredients of the genre hailed as 'power pop'
two years later by the music media. Musically and melodically it was almost
a blueprint for the like of the Buzzcocks, Undertones and Skids in the late
it left each of them at the starting post - containing subtle humorous
lyrics, with Mr. Calvert's tongue firmly in cheek.'
new line-up did their first 'Spirit
of the Age' tour through the U.K. and delievered the best Hawkwind performances
ever - accompanied again by a lavish stage show - greeted by both the audience
and the press with enthusiasm:
Change' is a brilliant multi-media creation
and says a lot very economically. Liquid Len's silhouette projections
tell the tale of civilisation's development from a lone tree to space
city and all the way back down again while the band develop from a simple
bass pattern to majestic chording on guitar and Hammond.'
set consisted mostly of the recent material with Calvert slipping into
even more different stage-characters. The Steppenwolf
transformed into the mad drugged-out oriental assassin to become the frantic
pseudo military advisor who delievered the Sonic
Calvert completely dissolved into those characters, creating an evergrowing
intensity - but apart from embracing the audience with a
full-scale theatrical performance this constant personality-switching
again led to problems in Calvert's very own psyche, that built up the
longer the tours went on.
U.K. tour, however, went down very well - but the next one, leading the
band over the European continent, followed closely and now Calvert gradually
changed more and more into his stage-personae's.
Just one example of Calvert's increasingly manic phases
is the '(in)famous' Hawkwind in Paris episode,
where, near the end of the tour, Calvert finally went over the top.
it's recommended that
the whole story in
Calvert's own words
before you proceed...
funny this episode might read, it merely scratches the surface of Calvert's
massive mental problems. According to Jeff Dexter,
Hawkwind's road manager at the time, at this very gig Calvert was under
the impression that the whole audience consisted of folks willing to organize
an underground / guerilla revolution - under his very own leadership,
Throughout the entire tour Calvert read books on 'How
to set up your own private army' and other guerilla
war-fare antics. He read all those books in the long nights he couldn't
get to sleep - he was a chronical insomniac,
up for 5 or 6 successive nights.
Later on, Calvert even exchanged his machinge-gun stage prop for a real
one, travelling the whole tour in his stage-outfit - a
combat suit, complete with gas pistol
on his hip...
this happening in 1977, the peak of European terrorist
movements... and the longer the tours went on, the more problems
Calvert apparently had to distinguish between his on and off-stage
However, all this apparently didn't spoil the actual performance -
Read an NME review of the gig in Paris.
Paris-incident the rest of the European tour-dates were blown
out and Jeff Dexter, being left by the other band members with the
horrifying task of taking care of Mr. Calvert and bringing him back
to London, went through a nightmarish time...
simply suggesting to drive back to the hotel Calvert chased him with
another of his stage-props: the sword he used during the
Hassan I Sahba / Assassins of Allah song.
Dexter in fear of his very life, finally blew him over the head with
a large piece of solid wood. Although this had the desired physical
effect, the impression on Calvert didn't last too long.
The next day he even threatened Dexter with his
gun when suspecting he'd be taken to a mental hospital - but...
eventually Dexter got him to the airport...
...still, the nightmare wasn't over yet for poor Jeff, as Calvert's paranoia
was playing up again: all planes were booked out and the longer they had
to wait the more Calvert became suspicious of some sort of conspiracy
to kill him while being on the plane.
He spent the hours marching up and down the hall, refusing to drink or
Dexter finally managed to talk the airport people into letting them on
the next available plane - before a real catastrophe would be on their
However, Calvert wasn't unaware of his own manic periods - arriving back
in London he signed himself (again) to mental treatment and...