I’m absolutely gutted to hear of the passing of an all time favourite artist tonight, Nik Turner, one of the founding members of Hawkwind.
I had the honour of seeing Nik (still playing many Hawkwind tracks with those of his solo career) live in Toronto a few times; a couple of gigs at the the Garrison, the last at the Velvet Underground. Every one was mind-blowingly amazing, like easily in the top ten of best live performers I’ve seen. Nik, despite his age, still brought a massive energy to the stage that was utterly mesmerising to be in the presence of.
A clip of ‘Brainstorm’ (written by Nik and originally recorded by Hawkwind) from one of the attended Garrison gigs:
Before the last show at the Underground, when the crowd was casually spread out as it always is at that venue before a gig starts, the incidental music dropped and Nik’s sax started up even though no one was on stage. He came walking out of the door next to it, out onto the floor. More of a shuffle really; he wore slippers and what appeared to be numerous pairs of socks.
An elderly man, Nik Turner slowly made his way around the venue while playing his sax and taking time to look everyone there directly in the eye.
(image courtesy Jim Summaria 1974 / header image via Nik’s bandcamp page)
On stage that night he was humble and real as ever. Still being so bohemian ad hoc as to ask if anyone could put the band up for the night, for which they’d be happy to share their weed in return.
Also from the same gig, Nik playing flute:
To keep things simple, Nik’s support act, Hedersleben—a partnership together every time I saw him, if not mistaken—was also his backing band. That night I got myself right down the front almost directly in front of Nik, and when ‘Sonic Attack’ was being played, realised there was no one doing the backing vocals that kick in around the 28 second mark, so started doing them myself as loudly as possible while trying to maintain the style of the song.
One of the keyboardists couldn’t stop laughing, while equally nodding to indicate I should definitely continue.
I hadn’t left the venue at the end of the night and already couldn’t wait for the next time Nik hit town. If it hadn’t been for Covid, there’s every chance I would’ve seen him again; I’m absolutely gutted while equally sincerely grateful for the times I did.
Tonight I raise many a beer while lighting many a bong: Nik Turner, 26 August 1940 – 10 November 2022, R.I.P. Eternal Rider of the Timewinds, you will be sorely missed and wonderfully remembered x