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hawkwind Rock Flashback: Hawkwind

The current edition of Hawkwind, 2010 (Getty Images/Garth Cattermole)

Prog rockers frequently explored science-fiction themes, or at least adopted the language of science fiction. And while prog bands could rock hard on occasion, they were just as likely to lift themes from classical music and use instruments not usually associated with rock ‘n’ roll, with a lighter touch. Which makes the band [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Hawkwind[/lastfm] unusual — a prog-rock band that played hard and heavy.

Hawkwind was one of the many bands that came out of the fertile era of the late ’60s. Allmusic.com describes them with a couple of vivid metaphors: “heavy metal music that seemed to cross paths with [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Chuck Berry[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Moody Blues[/lastfm] without sounding like either of them,” and “like [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Pink Floyd[/lastfm] with more of a rock and roll beat and a vengeance.”

Hawkwind’s lineup fluctuated practically from the beginning. Notable members included vocalist [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Robert Calvert[/lastfm], who was in and out of the band several times before his death in 1988; [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Dick Taylor[/lastfm], who had briefly been in [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]the Rolling Stones[/lastfm]; [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Lemmy Kilmister[/lastfm], who would later form [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Motorhead[/lastfm]; and [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Ginger Baker[/lastfm], formerly of [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Cream[/lastfm].

Hawkwind also caught the attention of sci-fi author [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Michael Moorcock[/lastfm], who occasionally performed with the group. (In 1974, he would make an album under his own name with several members of Hawkwind.) In 1985, Hawkwind’s album Chronicle of the Black Sword was based on Moorcock’s series of Elric novels.

Hawkwind has released literally dozens of albums, the most recent one in 2010. Their highest-charting album in the States was the 1974 release Hall of the Mountain Grill; while they never came close to a hit single in the States, their 1972 single “Silver Machine” was a UK smash. Here’s a vintage video.

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