Early Hawkwind, apparently at Wormstock, and Nik on Facebook
Nik Turner RIP…82 years young…goes off to more great gigs in the sky…
Some memories collated by Alan Dearling (many from Facebook(FB) friends
My little video of Nik Turner’s Space Ritual at The Forum in London 2010:
I first saw Hawkwind during my early days at university in Kent. That was 1969-72. Hawkwind played a fair few times. I remember particularly their set at Darwin College soon after the college newly opened in 1971 and I was on the college organising committee. They created a blanket wave of psyched-up, repetitive sound…’In search of space’, indeed. Heady, swirling, extremely loud with the powerful strobe light aimed directly from behind the naked drummer and at the audience. Music to lobotomise the brain cells! Memorable, anarchic. I seemed to see Hawkwind at every festival I attended, playing in an inflatable dome tent outside of the fence at Isle of Wight festi in 1970, and probably at Harmony Farm in 1971, and then at The Oval cricket ground in 1972 in London, jointly headlining with Frank Zappa and the Sundown event at Edmonton. At the forefront of Hawkwind was Nik Turner, who is credited as co-founder of Hawkwind with Dave Brock. Nik was the virtuoso muso, playing sax, flute and wherever a gig was happening, he was always ‘up for it’. Nik may have actually had the embryo of the idea for Hawkwind whist he worked at the Dreamland amusements in Margate, where he grew up alongside fellow student, Rob Calvert.
Nik was inspirational, a walking imaginarium, marginally bonkers, always with a mirthful twinkle in his eye. Over the years I often saw Nik, busking, joining in with bands, in bands such as Sphynx (I still have the single, ‘Nuclear Waste’ produced by Harry Williamson and featuring Sting on vocals from 1978), Inner City Unit, Space Ritual, Hawkestra, Hawklords and Dark Sun and sometimes, Gong. He was a stalwart of Stonehenge. Something of a magical musical magus. Vastly influential, sometimes naughty and annoying in a funny sort of way, but he ranks alongside other memorable ‘characters’ of the alternative music scene such as Daevid Allen, Viv Stanshall, Syd Barrett, Lol Coxhill, Lee Scratch Perry and Kevin Ayers. He is already much missed, but he will long be remembered.
And his inscription on Stonehenge 2014 blotter. ‘Stay High!’:
Cary Grace on FB:
Shedding tears for the indescribable Nik Turner this afternoon, having just heard the sad news that he left our world last night. Our lives collided for a few moments when I joined his band a few years ago; sadly I only got to play a couple of gigs with him. He had to have a hip replacement after a freak accident/injury, and then COVID intervened and shut down live music for two years.
I’ll treasure the time I had with him for the rest of my life, and I sincerely wish it could have been more.
Much love and deeply felt condolences to his family, and extended family, and all of his great circle of friends and acquaintances. He was a most incredible soul, and he will be missed and remembered fondly by many.
Daniel Smith on FB:
Many of us have stories of Uncle Nik.
One of my fave and funny memories was when He played ‘Koko Gorilllas’ for the Gary DS memorial gig. We were all dancing and Nik didn’t want to stop. Till in the end the venue switched the power off on his band (prob ‘cos of licensing hours I expect). Didn’t stop Uncle Nik though – he just kept playing with drums and sax. Doing his dance hall faves including ‘In the mood’ at ever increasing speed till we were all chasing each other round at break-neck speed like a bunch of Nutters, like in the Benny Hill theme.
Was so funny and awesome.
No stopping Nik, as long as people are dancing. Heck no.
He carried on for well-over an hour. Knowing that without amps and PA the legality is different…
He really was unstoppable…
And punk as….
Richard Standrin on FB:
It’s memories like this that will live with me.
Nik was about to go on stage at Sonic Rock Solstice, and was looking around the room, then shouted, “Richard, look after my flute for me”, before shooting off to the toilet.(Couldn’t resist pretending to play it).
Thanks for the music and memories.
Nik with Richard
Richard Walker on FB:
We travelled the length & breadth of the UK to watch you Nik Turner – was an honour to shine my lights with you, DJ & erect stages in fields for us to dance all night.
Onwards Warrior x
John Armstrong on FB:
Yes…I played guitar with ‘Drive by Night’ from Rochdale at Deeply Vale. Happy memories & a sad day today with another old-timer gone 😘 RIP
On ‘The Golden Daze of Free Festivals’ on Facebook:
UNKLE NIK GONE OFF ON HIS SILVER MACHINE
TO THE SUMMERLANDS FOR YOU
I’LL SEE YOU AGAIN DEAR FRIENDS
MUM SAID SHE HAD CUP OF TEA AND A JOINT WAITING
I REMEMBER YOU WELL
Gregg McKella on FB:
It’s taken me a while to process this loss, but here’s my journey with the Mighty Thunder Rider. This is also on behalf of Paradise 9 and the Real Music Club.
I was turned onto Hawkwind from when I was about 14yrs old, with ‘In Search of Space’ cementing my love of Space-Rock. Nik was one of the main contributors on that album, with his vocal on ‘Shouldn’t Do That’, his ultimate space rock anthem ‘Master of the Universe’, and hippy dreamy ‘Children of the Sun’ (which later inspired me to write ‘Distant Dreams’).
I was too young to have seen him in Hawkwind, but saw him several times in Inner City Unit.
I first met Nik at Robert Calvert’s electro-musical play, ‘The Kid From Silicon Gulch’ at London’s then Theatrespace in 1981, where me, my cousin and some mates ran into Nik after the play. He was most welcoming, and had that infectious smile, which I will never forget.
Then Nik rejoined Hawkwind, and I saw them play many times over the next couple of years. And Nik was always seemed to be about, talking to us fans, before the gig.
In the late ‘80s I moved to London (to make my fortune as a rock n’ roll star!) and in the ‘90s co-formed a band with Jeanette Murphy called Image Wot Image? and in the mid-90s we were invited to play Nik’s festival on his farm in Wales. To say I was over the moon is an understatement. The night before, we asked if he’d join us on our set at the end, and so I was truly blown away when he came up on ‘State of the Nation’, so much, I let the middle 8 stretch to something like a middle 128!
Of course, I learnt then that this was Nik’s way, playing and guesting whenever he was asked, always engaging fans, always encouraging musicians and artists.
So years down the line, I move to Brighton, where I befriend another musical hero, Judge Trev and through Trev met up with Nik on a few occasions. At the end of 2006 I was again made up to guest on clarinet in a new line up of Inner City Unit, with Nik more than welcoming and encouraging me up on stage, and since then he invited me to guest at most of the London Space Ritual gigs. My highlight was when he invited me to duet clarinet with his flute on my favourite Hawkwind Nik-scribed song ‘D-Rider’. At the Borderline, he had me, with a young flautist, trumpetist and trombonist, a synthy wibblist (Nigel) plus the 7 regular band members all blasting out on Brainstorm.
In 2011 I was delighted when he guested with us at Alchemy Festival playing on ‘The Right Stuff’.
In 2013, again I was made up when Nik agreed to add both flute and sax on Paradise 9 title album track ‘Take Me To The Future’. He readily accepted, guesting with us at the album launch gig at Nel’s in West Kensington, with Miss Angel Flame also joining us.
Following Judge Trev’s passing in late 2010, the Real Music Club put on an annual memorial gig, which Nik agreed every year to participate in, raising money for Pancreatic Cancer UK. And at many of these shows, I have been honoured to be a part of the Nik Turner Band, or when he joined us as the Judge Trev Band. Again, Nik was always generous, always taking time to engage with anyone and everyone.
To say that Nik’s passing leaves a great big hole in the space-time-continuum is an understatement. There will never be another like the Mighty Thunder Rider. A massive influence, great soul, friend and gentle man. Fly high, Kadu Flyer Nik Turner RIP X
Nik Turner joined Paradise 9 Live onstage at Alchemy Festival Lincolnshire 17.9.2011 for a great rendition of ‘The Right Stuff’:
Tor Rubble on FB:
Sad news about Nik Turner
Supported him with The Toretz was a strangest stage really high up in the streets of Lyme Regis
Meet him several more times over the years
A proper gent
No disrespect meant he was an inspiration
I shat next to him in the toilets at a festival
I was surrounded by a cacophony of raspberries at 8am
It was a cosmic moment I will never forget
Helen Hatt on FB:
He was a very good spitter and farter, hence the band’s name Hawkwind, it was named after Nik’s “special” abilities to show “respect”
Look into your mind’s eye, see what you can see,
There’s hundreds of people just like you and me…
Hurry on sundown…….hurry on sundown…..
The sun has gone down
Another legend joins the great gig in the sky ♥
Nik Turner passed away last night. I met him many times but I am really chuffed that Mike, Caroline, Bon and myself got to jam with him on Sanger’s stage show at Stonehenge. For me it was a moment and afterwards I got to sit and chat with him about other times we had met he was blown away when I said I had seen him cook breakfast with a baby fox running around his feet in his kitchen. R.I.P. Nik Turner xxxx
Al Damidge on FB:
Well, it has not been the best week with the passing of my friend Nik Turner remembering how many times we got into conversation as he walked though Glastonbury festival naked! Last time I saw Nik was with Chris Bowsher in west London’s Portobello Road playing his sax outside a Martin Glover event and the last time I spoke with him – thank god he had his clothes on this time.
(Photo by Chris Bowsher on the last occasion I got to have my last conversation with him)
RIP Nik Turner I will miss you and many people already are…
Harry Williamson contacted me saying:
Nik and I did spend a year or so together on the road, so there is a lot to tell, potentially – as well as the epic recording of XITINTODAY which involved a lot of preproduction and a great cast at Rockfield. Then the many many scenarios of mystic occurrences that sit well outside the ‘normal’ Hawkwind genre, including my work with Rob Calvert just before he left us… Not to mention our pilgrimage to Findhorn, the Edinburgh Festival where we pitched the Pyramid next to the Parthenon on Observatory Hill, gigs with the Liverpool poets, being struck by lightning twice – it is a book of tall stories.
Too voluminous for a short article
Which is what happened, but here’s a link to part of the music from Sphynx, post the trip to the Great Pyramid in Egypt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U05HunYjwM
Keith Rodway from Necessary Animals and other bands:
A couple of memories.
When recording the Good Missionaries’ ‘Pylons’ album at Street Level studios with Grant Showbiz and Keith Dobson (Kifkif), Nik would often be out in the street giving some TLC to his very impressive motorcycle. We were earnest young post-punks and he was a spacerock icon – he and Lemmy were both acceptable faces from the past. So we were a bit in awe. A few months later we supported Inner City Unit at a gig in the Falaise Hall, a now defunkt community hall in Hastings. We used Nik’s PA, and were utterly transported – none of us had ever experienced such sonic clarity. And we had monitors! We could hear ourselves! It was a real taste of luxury, sadly never to be repeated. ICU were fantastic. Once again, totally awestruck by the whole thing.
And finally from the Nik Turner fan site:
Eric Newby on FB: In 2008 Nik Turner travelled all the way from Wales to London to visit my Dad who was in a hospice with cancer. He didn’t know my Dad but came all that way. He played flute and comforted my dad who was in a really bad way that particular day. It’s no exaggeration to say that Nik kept my Dad alive for a bit longer. So for that Nik will always have a special place in my heart R.I.P.
Thanks to everyone who has posted memories of Nik Turner. Special Geezer!