Little did I realise at the time how much of a transition this would be between 1977 Hawkwind and 1978 Hawklords...

For correction/revision history and other info, see NOTES near bottom of this page

I saw the Sonic Assassins at Barnstaple Queens Hall, December 1977, and it was quite a good turn-out for a poorly-promoted local gig despite Nik being supposed to turn up as support, but didn't.

I'm pleased that some of the trax have surfaced on CD - Magnu on Anthology 67-82 and Golden Void, The Awakening and Over the Top on Friends & Relations.

What we didn't realise at the time was how much of a turning-point this was to be for Hawkwind. Nik had been sacked a few months ago (allegedly by Paul Rudolph)... and then Dave had sacked Rudolph. Then Dave Brock and Bob Calvert recruited some members of a local Barnstaple band, ARK, to make up an alternative band, the SONIC ASSASSINS.

This is the only time I've heard a CD of a gig I've been to, and it was a bloody odd one.

"I feel so high and mighty up here," Bob declaimed from the three-foot-high stage as Paul Hayles and Dave Brock generated some swirly ambient sounds. "I feel like I'm the master of the universe."

Before a beautifully drifty version of The Awakening Bob Calvert, wearing headphones, asked Dave, "Where'd you get these microphone stands from? They're very heavy!" and really the whole gig was bloody bizarre...

It didn't really gel and from what I've heard since about the poor planning, I am amazed that it came together as good as it did. They did Brainstorm and a few other obligatories, and at one point Bob pulled his cans off and dropped them by his feet. Joanna and I, who at that point were front-stage, took turns to try them on and were startled by the difference in sound between what was murkily belching out of the speakers and what was crisply wafting out of Bob's discarded headphones.

Happily, the CD tracks resemble the cans sounds that Jo and I heard, and not what people generally heard in the hall, which was muddy crap.

Anyway, after the encore-less gig, Joanna chatted to a hyped and very jittery Bob Calvert while Dave complained about people getting in the way while he was packing up his guitar. It had been a trying gig - including Paul Hayles' synth packing up - and Dave just didn't need any more shit.

But at the time we were young and eager, and Dave made it clear he wasn't in the mood for conversation so I joined Joanna and Bob and, after a discreet few minutes, casually asked Bob why Hawkwind don't do cosmic rock any more. In retrospect I can see he was remarkably polite: he merely smiled and said 'that's old hat now...', instead of telling me to fuck off until I'd thought of something more original to ask.

Soon the message got through to us eager young students, though: these were real people who were pissed off, the gigging thing wasn't a fun vibe right now, and they just wanted to get home and not have any crap laid on them.

So Joanna and I and the rest of us went home and Dave and Bob soon went on to form the Hawklords, mainly drawing on the Sonic Assassins contingent. Little did we know at the time that HW history was in the making. Still, I suppose Dave didn't either. At the time, he and Bob were just grumbling about who was going to drive the car home.

NOTES: This page was posted in July 2006, and it wasn't until March 2009 that I discovered it mistakenly cited Steve Swindells as the Sonic Assassins keyboardist. The text above has now been corrected, and refers to Paul Hayles. My apologies.

What appears to be a rough demo of the intended live show release has recently found its way to me. Until Feb 2009, I never even knew such a thing was floating around. It sounds like a multi-generation copy, but sadly only contains one track that wasn't on Friends & Relations or Weird Tapes 1: "The Dream" (an instrumental following "Golden Void").

The parts of the show not on official release have 'done the rounds' in the form of an audience recording made by me someone. Notably on Dime ( So the whole show's legally available to everyone in one form or another.

(Sonic_Hawk, 5 March 2009.)