Nik Turner, co-founder and the multi-instrumentalist of the British space-rock band Hawkwind has breathed his last at the age of 82. The vocalist’s demise was confirmed on his own Facebook account on Friday, November 11.
Nik Turner Dead at 82
“We are deeply shattered to announce the passing of Nik Turner- The Mighty Thunder Rider.” Apparently, the singer died peacefully at his residence on Thursday evening.
The statement continues, “He has moved on to the next phase, and will forever be guided by the love of his family, fans, and friends.”
Nick Turner, who is originally Nickolas ‘Robert’ Turner, was born on Aug. 26, 1940, in Oxford. His entire family moved to the Kent seaside resort when he was just 13. There he was introduced to rock music and James Dean films. He initially learned saxophone in his early twenties but when Turner was exposed to Hawkwind as a roadie in 1969, he not only joined the band as their saxophonist but also as their flutist and vocalist. In the 50s and 60s, he developed an interest in free jazz and incorporated his improvised stylings into the context of a band. When he initially joined the band, it comprised Mick Slattery, Dave Brock, and John Harrison. Turner and Dave Broke were soon promoted as band members and they first adopted the name Group X, which was then replaced with Hawkwind Zoo and finally Hawkwind.
Turner first played with the band from 1969 to 1976, which was the most successful period in the history of Hawkwind. Beginning from 1971’s In Search of Space to 1975’s Warrior on the Edge of Time, the band had a bunch of good hits.
Before winding up in Motorhead, the psychedelic space-rock group was owned by Lemmy Kilmister for four years. While recalling auditioning for the band in 1971 at an open-air concert at Powis Square in Notting Hill Gate, Lemmy remembered how he tried to land as a second guitarist in Hawkwind. But, the bassist didn’t show up, urging Lemmy to join Turner live on stage. With zero knowledge about bass, the sax player advised Lemmey to “make some noise in E” and he told him that it was called “You Shouldn’t Do That.”
Earlier today, the official handle of Motorhead tweeted, “We lost Lemmy’s old bandmate Nik Turner yesterday.”
Turner stayed with Hawkwind until 1976 and joined again sometime between 1982 and 1984 and played sax for 1982’s Choose Your Masques. He also went on to participate in various live albums and compilations.
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Between Turner’s two Hawkwing stints, he came across the hybrid band Inner City Unit, and together they released four albums in five years (1980- 1985). After resigning from Hawkwind, Turner spent leisure time in Egypt, where he recorded himself playing the flute. These recordings were further combined and incorporated into a complete album, Xitintoday, under the moniker Sphynx with a montage of musicians. The album was published in 1978 and featured lyrics that he adapted from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. a number of Sphynx musicians also appeared in the single “Nuclear Waste,” that featured lead vocalist from Sting.
After untying all the knots, Turner began to tour with several Sphynx and Hawkwind mates. He even formed Space Ritual in 2000 and named it -The Space Ritual Alive in Liverpool and London- after Hawkwind’s 1973 album.
Over the next decade, the band released as many live albums, and two studio LPs and featured an array of former Hawkwind members.
As for Hawkwind, they can be dubbed as the forefathers of space-rock as they cannot be classified under a single and particular category. With dozens of albums over the years, they’ve managed to refine a psychedelic and snaring sound with electronics, woodwinds, and heavy guitars coupled with the poetry of Robert Calvert.
“I always consider them (Hawkwind) the working man’s adaptation of Pink Floyd,” said sax player Turner. In an interview, he said something else the sounds were psychedelic with drugs and strobe lights. Per Turner, the experience he had resembled the rock band Grateful Dead- the band was renowned for its eclectic style, which fused elements of folk, rock, blues, jazz, bluegrass, country, and many more.
Hawkwind used to mix science fiction themes with hard psychedelic rock. But there were a number of musicians using the name Hawkwind who filed a lawsuit against Turner to prohibit him from using the name, a case that he eventually lost.