Sad to witness Hawkwind, the great British musical force which has carved out a unique position outside of the mainstream music business over several decades, dragged into a tawdry row regarding ownership of the group’s name.
The dispute has been sparked by saxophonist/flautist/sometime frontman Nik Turner. It seems he is trademarking the group’s name as a touring entity in the US, even though he hasn’t been a member for a long time.
Turner was in the line-up during Hawkwind’s greatest period, 1970-76, and returned sporadically until a parting of the ways with Dave Brock, generally acknowledged as Hawkwind’s founder and the band’s one constant, at the helm for all 44 years of its existence.
If scans of signed US documents circulated online prove to be authentic, Turner’s registration in the US – where he has just toured under the banner Nik Turner’s Hawkwind – denies the existence of any other entity of that name operating in the field of live performance. This undercuts his claims in the American press that he wants to spread peace and harmony by invoking Hawkwind’s name and has enraged a section of the fan base.
Brock meanwhile has cancelled his Hawkwind’s American tour on the basis that he – at 72, a year younger than Turner – is suffering from a stress-related illness as result of the dispute.
This is all a long way from the relative harmony in the ranks when I fell under their spell as a teenager. I saw Hawkwind a few times, at the Edmonton Sundown or the Dagenham Roundhouse in north-east London and at a free festival in Harlow New Town, Essex, but one particular concert in February 1975 when the ensemble played Camden Town’s Roundhouse with the Pink Fairies stays in the memory.