I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Hawkwind, especially in their early days, exemplifies the art and excess of rock music.
Before I try to make my case, let’s just see some footage to set the mood:
If that doesn’t press any of your pleasure buttons, I don’t know what to say.
So, hard rock badassery checklist:
2.Cutting edge artist to design album covers and custom bass drum heads? Check.
(…you may recognize some of Barney’s other work, by the way…)
3.Amazon woman performing nude interpretive dance in spaced out bodypaint at all of your live shows? Oh, that’s a check.
4. Awesome drugged-out sci-fi album covers? So many checks!
5. Lemmy? You’re goddamned right CHECK.
My point being: Hawkwind wasn’t just a band, they were damn near a traveling commune. A rotating group of musicians, writers, visual artists and dancers all taking a concept and moving it forward over more than four decades. Even their roadies are legendary. They were out to get weird, and they brought the live concert concept up a notch for everyone. Kiss? Gwar? Where do you think those guys got the idea? Look at this:
That was in the early ’70s. Did I mention they’re still doing it? Like, this year? Here’s what that looks like:
If you want to jump in somewhere in the Hawkwind catalogue, I’d suggest starting with Space Ritual. It’s the right balance of drone, melody, and balls out strange.
If you want to take the Wikipedia route and get the whole long, crazy Hawkwind story, here ya go.
If you want to see the legend in action as you learn, the BBC has kindly obliged: