Source: The Guardian.
The studio cuts to the gloom of a provincial dance hall, and a shot of a crowd already in the throes of what looks like religious ecstasy. On stage, a striking young woman with a silver face salutes the air and then enacts a secret ceremony, as a dirty whoosh of crunching guitar and pounding drums begins to pour from the TV. A band member frenziedly shakes a flute above his head like a space-age sceptre; another stoops over a table of mysterious electronic devices. The bass-playing singer steps up to the mic and bellows, “I just took a ride in a Silver Machine…”
This is Hawkwind in all their scuzzy, interstellar glory, the underground’s biggest band promoting their new single – less than a year later, and with a million copies of it sold, they’ll be headlining Wembley. It tends to be forgotten just how big this band of west London renegades were in the 1970s, playing to audiences of thousands wherever they went. They’re misremembered now, and were often misrepresented at the time, but as I discovered when writing a book about them, Hawkwind’s story amounts to an alternative narrative for 70s music culture – very different to the one that’s lazily trotted out by scene historians.