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-born, English writer, poet, and musician. He is principally known for his role as lyricist and member of the space rock band Hawkwind. [2]

Space rock is a rock music genre characterized by loose and lengthy song structures centred on instrumental textures that typically produce a hypnotic, otherworldly sound. It may feature distorted and reverberation-laden guitars, minimal drumming, languid vocals, synthesizers and lyrical themes of outer space and science fiction.

Hawkwind English rock band

Hawkwind are an English rock band and one of the earliest space rock groups. Formed in November 1969, Hawkwind have gone through many incarnations and they have incorporated different styles into their music, including hard rock, progressive rock and psychedelic rock. They are also regarded as an influential proto-punk band. Their lyrics favour urban and science fiction themes.



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.

Pretoria National administrative capital of South Africa, located in Gauteng province

Pretoria is a city in the northern part of Gauteng province in South Africa. It straddles the Apies River and has spread eastwards into the foothills of the Magaliesberg mountains. It is one of the country's three capital cities, serving as the seat of the administrative branch of government, and of foreign embassies to South Africa. Pretoria has a reputation for being an academic city with three universities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Human Sciences Research Council. The city also hosts the National Research Foundation and the South African Bureau of Standards making the city a hub for research. Pretoria is the central part of the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality which was formed by the amalgamation of several former local authorities including Centurion and Soshanguve. There have been proposals to change the name of Pretoria itself to Tshwane, and the proposed name change has caused some public controversy.

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.

The New Wave is a movement in science fiction produced in the 1960s and 1970s and characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, a "literary" or artistic sensibility, and a focus on "soft" as opposed to hard science. New Wave writers often saw themselves as part of the modernist tradition and sometimes mocked the traditions of pulp science fiction, which some of them regarded as stodgy, adolescent and poorly written.

Michael Moorcock English writer, editor, critic

Michael John Moorcock is an English writer and musician, primarily of science fiction and fantasy, who has also published literary novels. He is best known for his novels about the character Elric of Melniboné, a seminal influence on the field of fantasy since the 1960s and ‘70s.

<i>New Worlds</i> (magazine) British science fiction and fantasy magazine

New Worlds was a British science fiction magazine that began in 1936 as a fanzine called Novae Terrae. John Carnell, who became Novae Terrae's editor in 1939, renamed it New Worlds that year. He was instrumental in turning it into a professional publication in 1946 and was the first editor of the new incarnation. It became the leading UK science fiction magazine; the period to 1960 has been described by science fiction historian Mike Ashley as the magazine's "Golden Age".

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.

Bipolar disorder mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases. During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others. The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than 6 percent over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30–40 percent. Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated with bipolar disorder.

Mental Health Act is a stock short title used for legislation relating to mental health law.

<i>Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters</i> 1974 studio album by Robert Calvert

Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters is a 1974 satirical concept album by Robert Calvert, the former frontman of British space-rock band Hawkwind. It consists of a mixture of songs and comic spoken interludes.

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.

Arthur Brown (musician) British musician

Arthur Wilton Brown is an English rock singer and songwriter best known for his flamboyant theatrical performances, eclectic work and his powerful, wide-ranging operatic voice.

Steve Peregrin Took English musician, songwriter

Steve Peregrin Took was an English musician and songwriter. He is best known for his membership of the duo Tyrannosaurus Rex with Marc Bolan. After breaking with Bolan, he concentrated on his own singer-songwriting activities, variously as a solo artist or as a frontman for several bands.

Jim Capaldi English musician and songwriter

Nicola James Capaldi was an English drummer, singer, and songwriter. His musical career spanned more than four decades. He co-founded the psychedelic rock band Traffic in 1967 with Steve Winwood with whom he co-wrote the majority of the band's output. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a part of Traffic's original line-up.

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.

Ramsgate town in Kent, England

Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century. In 2001 it had a population of about 40,000. Ramsgate’s main attraction is its coastline, and its main industries are tourism and fishing. The town has one of the largest marinas on the English south coast, and the Port of Ramsgate provided cross-channel ferries for many years.

William Shakespeare 16th and 17th-century English playwright and poet

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Sonnet 116 poem by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 was first published in 1609. Its structure and form are a typical example of the Shakespearean sonnet.



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.