Nik Turner, Hawkwind co-founder and saxophonist, dies aged 82

Member of influential British space-rock band also played in Sphynx, Inner City Unit and Space Ritual

Nik Turner, the co-founder of the British space-rock band Hawkwind, has died aged 82.

A statement on the saxophonist’s Facebook page said: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nik Turner – the Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening.

“He has moved on to the next phase of his cosmic journey, guided by the love of his family, friends and fans. Watch this space for his arrangements.”

Nik Turner laughing on stage with a saxophone at a music festival
Nik Turner performing with Hawkwind at Cardiff Castle in 1976. Photograph: Michael Putland/Getty Images

Turner was one of the founding members of Hawkwind, which formed in 1969, alongside Dave Brock, John Harrison, Terry Ollis and Mick Slattery.

He played with the band for seven years, including with Lemmy, who joined in 1971 and would later go on to be the frontman for Motörhead. Turner left the band in 1976, before returning in 1982 and playing with them for another two years.

Hawkwind are best known for the song Silver Machine, which reached No 3 in the UK singles chart in 1972, as well as Urban Guerrilla and Shot Down in the Night.

Motörhead’s official Twitter account posted: “We lost Lemmy’s old bandmate Nik Turner today. Play some Hawkwind nice and loud! Brainstorm here we go!”

Between his two stints in Hawkwind, Turner travelled to Egypt and recorded flute music inside the pyramids. The recordings became the basis for a group called Sphynx, which released the album Xitintoday in 1978.

Turner also recorded songs under the names Inner City Unit, Nik Turner’s Fantastic All Stars, and Space Ritual.

“I have a very casual attitude to all this – to me, it’s entertainment,” he told the music website the Quietus in 2013. “But entertainment with an agenda, really. Of spreading joy and love and that sort of thing. I mean, I worry about being too overtly hippy, but peace and love are not fashionable sentiments in some quarters and I think they should be.”


Tom Ambrose

The GuardianTramp

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