Essentially a Hawkwind spin-off band, the Hawklords' run barely lasted a year, but proved significant in convincing founder-guitarist Dave Brock to give his parent band one more shot. The initial impetus grew from Hawkwind's six-week support stint in the U.S. between February and April 1978. Brock reportedly found the exercise so dispiriting that he sold his guitar just minutes after the final gig in California. Hawkwind manager Doug Smith convinced Brock to reconsider.
To avoid the contractual and legal snares of using the Hawkwind name, Brock called his new band the Hawklords, which formed during the summer of 1978. The lineup included former Hawkwind stalwart Bob Calvert (vocals), as well as Harvey Bainbridge (bass, keyboards); Steve Swindells (keyboards) (of String Driven Thing and Pilot); and drummer Martin Griffin.
Hoping for a Jefferson Airplane-to-Starship-style transition between the two names, the Hawklords embarked on a 25-date autumn 1978 U.K. tour to push their 25 Years On album and "Psi Power"/"Death Trap" single. The classic Hawkwind sound still shone through the new material -- albeit with a rawer edge that also attracted younger, punk-era fans bemused by the band's reputation as unrepentant '60s-era holdovers. "Psi Power's" classic lyric about an unwilling recipient of extrasensory ability became the most enduring Hawklords song, at least for a while (it opens the 1984 live album This Is Hawkwind, Do Not Panic). But efforts to establish the new band grew complicated after the third reissue of Hawkwind's classic space rock anthem "Silver Machine," which reached number 34 on the U.K. charts.
Predictably, Brock's and Calvert's ever-fractious alliance didn't survive intact for long, either; in January 1979, Calvert left to pursue his on-again, off-again solo career. Griffin also departed, enabling Simon King to retake the position that he'd held in both bands between 1975 and 1978.
Now pared down to a compact quartet, the Hawklords suffered a further blow when Swindells defected, too, leaving Brock and Bainbridge to carry the flag for a few more aimless months. Almost on cue, Charisma issued the PXR5 album in May 1979 -- which had been recorded by the last Hawkwind lineup, but shelved due to the confusion surrounding the parent band's future.
The inevitable happened when Brock reverted to using Hawkwind's name by the summer of 1979, which only made sense -- since several of the same people had played in both bands, anyway. With King back in the fold, guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton and ex-Gong keyboardist Tim Blake joined the resurrected Hawkwind in time for the year's first gig at Leeds' so-called Futurama Festival. Brief as it was, the Hawklords' run became an exhibit of "business as usual" -- even if the principal players took an unusually circular route to get there. ~ Ralph Heibutzki