Part 6. Hawkwind

Hawkwind were a space rock band from the planet Regulo 5 who came to Earth in a Silver Machine to teach the human race about universal love, galactic harmony and NVQ Level 2 bricklaying. Taking their name from the excessive flatulence that characterises their species, the band rapidly gained a following thanks to their soaring riffs, exotic sci-fi themed lyrics and special two-for one offers on masonry tools.

From the very beginning the band knew that they would have to adopt human form in order to gain acceptance, but on more than one occasion their gigs ended in panic and confusion when Dave Brock's human face mask slipped. Subsequently the band employed basic shape-shifting techniques and the often random nature of these transformations has gone some way to explaining the varying line-up down the years.

Breakthrough album

Although the band worked steadily throughout the early seventies, it wasn't until 1975 that they released their breakthrough album, Warrior on the Edge of Time, a collaboration with the celebrated sci-fi author Enid Blyton. Blyton, a notoriously difficult person to work with, frequently downed a bottle of scotch before breakfast, constantly demanded exotic fruits and fine Cuban cigars and would often prefer to engage the band in arm wrestling contests rather than knuckle down and do some work.

At this point in her career she had been dead for seven years and this inclined to make her a little cranky in the mornings. Nevertheless, in spite of the constant fights and the police raids, she still managed to turn in one or two interesting lyrics and played bass on 'The Wizard Blew His Horn.'

Spaceship

Distracted by their success, the band allowed their spaceship to fall into the hands of a private firm who back-engineered the technology and developed the hover mower. A lengthy court case ensued and the band ultimately secured a royalty payment on all future sales.

They also regained their ship in time to be recalled to their home planet, which was threatened with destruction following the instigation of a phase shift in its sun which would ultimately cause it to implode. Hawkwind managed to hollow out the core of their world and fit anti-gravitational gyroscopic space motors, which enabled them to steer it out of harm's way. Returning to Earth they played the Marquee to a packed audience on September 17th 1979.

A period of unrest

The following year was the start of a period of unrest for the band. In March Steve Swindells found a cloning machine, copied himself six hundred times and left to form the world's biggest solo act. The band also went through a succession of drummers until they eventually discovered Keith K-412, a synthesised robotic musician that had been developed especially for them by Professor Jez Moonbeam.

The robot featured on the band's next album, Sonic Attack, and Moonbeam himself accompanied it on the subsequent tour in order to change its oil, lubricate its pulleys and polish its nuts. Despite the robot having a twelve month parts and labour guarantee, the band was unsure about its reliability - particularly after it started picking up interference from a local minicab firm at a gig in South London. Three days later it went haywire at a festival in Wiltshire, where it smashed up a beer tent, overturned a trailer and ate a dog before someone finally wrestled it to the ground and pulled out its batteries.

The robot was subsequently dismantled, although there are unconfirmed reports that its CPU was recycled and is currently being used by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to calculate tax returns.

None of this is true, by the way.

Ricky Stratocaster's new book, 50 Great Rock 'n' Roll Injuries, is published on Tuesday.

Return to 'The History of Rock'

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