Hawkwind Space-rock and the Bard of Ely
Hawkwind - famous for space rock and Silver Machine
Hawkwind are a veteran rock band well-known for their pioneering psychedelic and space rock sounds and for the hit single Silver Machine. The group has had many line-ups and been around since the end of the '60s and besides influencing many other musicians and writers has spawned a number of spin-off bands. One of these was the now defunct South Wales band Shockhead.
Shockhead featured Crum, who had been a member of Hawkwind as their synthesiser and keyboards player, and electric guitarist the late Chris Swambo aka Ned Zero. Two of my personal connections with Hawkwind are that I worked with Ned Zero and with Crum.
Shockhead had Hawkwind links
Shockhead were the Cardiff area band that really should have been signed and got their break into the big time in the years before "Cool Cymru" and all the acts that became famous, because they were once voted the best band in Wales and their gigs were always sell-outs.
Shockhead combined psychedelic sounds and the the driving beat, distortion and heavy bass of Hawkwind with a dub style and a dread-locked Rasta lead singer. Dry ice, strobes and light shows were part of their shows and a Shockhead gig was more of an experience rather than watching a performance. They were loud, proud and rocked the house! Shockhead were also unique.
Shockhead were led by Crum who had formed the band after leaving Hawkwind, and he went on to create the Moonloonies as well, an act centred around his cosmic synth-playing and keyboard wizardry.
Apart from being a friend of the band and having seen them live on several occasions, I went on to work on a song with Chris Swambo who was the guitarist for Shockhead. Chris was trying to get his own solo music project off the ground and was calling himself Ned Zero. With him as producer and contributor of some stunning electric guitar we recorded a long Dance version of my song Real Love and Communication.
It opens with a recording of the Druid's Oath being chanted and also features the backing vocals of Den, a female singer-songwriter and friend of mine from the Cardiff music scene. I used to call over at Chris's house in Llandough just outside Cardiff to work on the song and we plannned to work on others in future.
Sadly this was never to be because he became suddenly very ill and was found to have a brain tumour and from which, despite having had emergency hospital treatment, he died not long after. Like many others I lost a good friend and South Wales lost a very talented musician but he lives on in my song I like to think!
Real Love and Communication (live)
Crum and the Moonloonies
As already mentioned, Crum plays keyboards and synthesiser and had done so with Hawkwind at one stage in his career. He had joined Hawkwind back in 1988 but left the band in 1989, however, he rejoined Hawkwind for a tour in 1997. I got to see Hawkwind with Crum as a member of the band when they played a fantastic gig at the Cardif Coal Exchange.
Crum's focus has been otherwise on the Moonloonies and the band has released music on Temple Records. The electronic music of the Moonloonies is based around space rock themes and synthesiser sounds too and has earned Crum gigs at Glastonbury Festival.
Crum is actually based in Cardiff, like I was when I lived in Ely, and I asked him if he could do some remixes of some songs of mine I had recorded with the help of my friend Madi. He kindly agreed and dubbed some synth on to the songs: Welsh Wizard, One To Three and Starwoven Not Starcrossed, all of which are featured on my album Welsh Wizard on DMMG Records.
In 2004 Crum asked me to do some vocals for a song of his and I would have loved to have obliged but I was in the process of moving to Tenerife so that recording never happened. Maybe some day we will get together again though to work on some music?
Bard of Ely's Welsh Wizard (Crum's mix)
Nik Turner ex-Hawkwind
Nik Turner was a very big part of Hawkwind and wrote and co-wrote some of the band's songs including Brainstorm and Master of the Universe. After leaving Hawkwind he has been very prolific both as a recording musician and performer and has been in various bands including, Inner City Unit, Nik Turner's fantastic All Stars and Space Ritual.
Although Nik and myself have never really met in person to chat and get to know each other we have been linked in other ways. Many years back I was one of the performers listed on a poster promoting a gig organised by Crum and Shockhead and Nik Turner's All Stars were on the same line up.
My good friend C.J. Stone had a book published in 1996 entitled Fierce Dancing - Adventures in the Underground. In it there is a chapter about me and another chapter is all about what the author learned from Nik Turner when he went to meet him.
in 2003 I was a compère for the Avalon Stage at Glastonbury Festival and Nik was a guest artist who appeared on stage with my good friend Nigel Mazlyn Jones. Sometimes the music world seems a very small one when it comes to who knows who and connections in it!
More recently again I befriended Nik Turner on Facebook and it was on this social networking site that he suggested that maybe we should get together some time. I thanked him for the offer and said I would love to but it is very difficult what with me living in Tenerife now and him living in Wales.
But maybe some day when I go back to visit my family in Cardiff I will take some time to go and see Nik and Crum too? We will have to wait and see!
Nik Turner AKA Space Ritual Live - Silver Machine at Big Green Gathering 2007
© 2011 Steve Andrews
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