Robert Calvert

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Robert Calvert
Born(1945-03-09)9 March 1945
Pretoria, South Africa
Died14 August 1988(1988-08-14) (aged 43)
Ramsgate, England
Genres Space rock
Associated acts Hawkwind, Sonic Assassins, Hawklords

Robert Newton Calvert (9 March 1945 – 14 August 1988) [1] was a South African writer, poet, and musician. He is principally known for his role as lyricist and member of the space rock band Hawkwind. [2]



Calvert was born in Pretoria, South Africa and moved with his parents to England when he was two. He attended school in London and Margate. Having finished school he joined the Air Training Corps, where he became a corporal and played the trumpet for the 438 squadron band. [3] He then went on to college in Canterbury. After leaving college, and having been denied his childhood dream of becoming a fighter pilot, he slowly acquainted himself with the UK's bohemian scene. Calvert began his career in earnest by writing poetry. In 1967 he formed the street theatre group Street Dada Nihilismus.

At the end of the 1960s he moved to London and joined the flourishing psychedelic subculture. He soon became one of its most active members; joining, amongst other activities, Frendz , one of the leading underground magazines of the time. During that time he acquainted himself with New Wave science fiction writers. Acclaimed author Michael Moorcock, winner of several science fiction literary awards and publisher of the influential New Worlds magazine, became a lifelong friend. Calvert's poems were published in New Worlds and other magazines. Although he was influenced by the New Wave, Calvert developed a distinct style of his own. His ability to change fluently between poetry, music and theatre allowed him to develop into a multimedia artist. Calvert then became acquainted with Dave Brock, and became the resident poet, lyricist and frontman of Hawkwind, intermittently from 1972–1979. Calvert co-wrote Hawkwind's hit single "Silver Machine", which reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart. Although Lemmy sings on the single version, this is an overdub of a live recording taken at the Roundhouse in London, with Calvert on vocals. "They tried everyone else singing it except me", Lemmy later said. [4] Calvert also directed Hawkwind's live opus, the Space Ritual Tour.

Calvert suffered from bipolar disorder, which often caused a fractious relationship with his fellow musicians. At one point he was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Despite his sometimes debilitating mental health, Calvert remained a fiercely creative, driven and multi-talented artist. During periods away from Hawkwind duties, he worked on his solo career; his creative output including albums, stage plays, poetry, and a novel. His first solo album, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters , was released in 1974. The record is a concept album; an amalgam of music and theatre focused around the Lockheed bribery scandals. In 1975 Calvert won the Capital Radio poetry competition with his poem "Circle Line". In 1975, musician and producer Brian Eno produced and played on Calvert's second solo album, Lucky Leif and the Longships , a concept album which looked at the history of the US and the Vikings, who crossed the Atlantic to reach America before Columbus.

As well as Michael Moorcock and Brian Eno, Calvert's collaborators included Arthur Brown, Steve Peregrin Took, Jim Capaldi, Steve Pond, Inner City Unit, Vivian Stanshall, Nektar, John Greaves, Adrian Wagner, Amon Düül II and, posthumously, Spirits Burning, Dave Brock, and Krankschaft.

Aged 43, Calvert died of a heart attack in 1988 in Ramsgate, England [1] [5] and was buried in Minster Cemetery near Margate. His gravestone is engraved with the line "Love's not Time's fool", from William Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.


Studio Albums

Demo Albums

Live Albums


With Hawkwind

With Dave Brock

Guest appearances



Poetry collections


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  1. 1 2 Doc Rock. "The 1980s". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  2. Ankeny, Jason. "Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  3. "Robert Calvert (Hawkwind)- Musician Profile". Retrieved 18 July 2014.
  4. The Saga of Hawkwind, Carol Clerk, 2004 Omnibus Press ISBN   1-84449-101-3
  5. "Robert Calvert - a biography". Aural Innovations. Retrieved 31 May 2015.