Robert Newton Calvert was born 1945 in Pretoria, South Africa but in 1947 his family moved to Margate. There, as a schollboy, he joined a street theatre and played in two vaudeville bands in the style of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
"My first band was when I was 15. It was called Oliver Twist and the Lower Third', and we played round the Margate dance halls. The next outfit was Mordecai Sludd and the Others'. We were kind of satirical - a bit like the Bonzos though it was a lot earlier. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of demand for satire around the dance halls, so we had a rather rough time. I remember I used to wear luminous socks... Then I turned very snobbish and decided to be a poet instead of a singer. I even got snobbish about music for a short time, decided it was an inferior form. I used to enjoy sitting in churchyards and reading Verlaine, Keats, Shelley, Dylan Thomas. God, I was naive! I thought you could make a living as a poet!"
In the 1960's, with the rest of his family now back in South Africa, he moved to London where he founded a street theatre group called "Street Dada Nihilisimus". He also worked with the underground magazine Frendz - contributing poetry and doing some editing.
"I got involved with the underground as soon as I came to London. I looked on myself as a kind of anti-literary establishment guerilla. I hated the weak impact of straight poetry and realised that the only way to get through to people is through music. I began working for "Frendz" writing fiction."
Calvert also had an exhibition of "environmental poetry" at the Roundhouse "Better Place To Live" exhibition.
"We were the only musical exhibit there. We were actually a live exhibit, performing a peculiar
arrangement of words, sounds and fiction."
- from This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic
In London, he meets up with Nik Turner who he already knew from Margate:
"I worked in Dreamland, the amusement park in Margate - did a bit of work on deckchairs, beach
photography, that sort of thing. Nik Turner was selling funny hats at the time. Nik, DikMik and
myself used to talk about the sort of band we would get together if we had half a chance. We
used to come up quite a lot to London to see bands. That's where I first met Dave Brock when he
was busking on the Portobello Road."
Tim Gadd interview - Knut Gerwers Web Site
Talking to Turner, Calvert discovers he plays with DikMik and Dave Brock (whom he had already met) in a group called Hawkwind. Calvert asked him what kind of music they played.
"Nik said Space Rock - which is a term I actually hadn't heard before - but it seemed like the magic key to a movement that was afoot. It was like Ezra Pound and the Imagists discussing the new movement in poetry. And to me it sounded like something brand new - which it was."
In late 1970 Calvert went to see the band at the Roundhouse, where their look and sound was described by another collaborator, Michael Moorcock:
"When I first saw them, they seemed like barbarians who'd got hold of a load of electrical gear;
instead of being self-conscious and pseudo intellectual, they were actually of the electronic age.
The early band expressed what was going on - with the whole space programme and the concern
for communication and industry."
Michael Moorcock - Pete Frame Rock Family Trees
"To my mind they didn't have a clear image of any kind"
- from This Is Hawkwind Do Not Panic
Calvert was sufficiently intrigued to spend more time with the band and was invited to read some of his poetry with them during gigs, first at the Sisters Club in London, which was owned by IT and Frendz. The pieces he performed included "Co-Pilots Of Spaceship Earth", "The Starfarer's Despatch", "The Awakening" and "Welcome To The Future".
In the summer of 1971 the band recorded their second studio album "In Search Of Space"; although Calvert contributed nothing lyrically or musically to it, he, together with artist Barney Bubbles and other people at Frendz, produced the 24-page "Hawklog" booklet that accompanied the album. Inspired by Calvert, this was supposed to be the found log book of a spaceship containing the thoughts of its inhabitants
Calvert's first recording with the band and the start of their most successful period was on February 13th, 1972. When they headlined a benefit gig at the Roundhouse. The concert was recorded and two songs were released on the "Greasy Truckers" album; one of them, "Born To Go" a Brock/Calvert composition, was Calvert's first writing credit with the band. Calvert's biggest contribution, however, proved to be the song "Silver Machine", also recorded at this gig. For its later release as a single, Calvert's original vocal was deemed unsuitable. In the meantime, he had left the band for a spell in a mental hospital to recuperate from the effects that Hawkwind's punishing schedule was having on him, so his vocal was replaced by bass player Lemmy.
Somehow the single of Silver Machine got to number three in the charts and a film of the band was shown on Top Of The Pops. Despite the success of the single the band remained on low wages and put the money earned from Silver Machine back into their stage show - they had talked for a couple of years of their plans for performing a Space Opera featuring the work of Calvert and Michael Moorcock. This was now to be mounted in the winter of 1972 as a national tour to support the release of their third studio album "Doremi Fasoli Latido".
The Space Ritual Roadshow featured six writing credits for Calvert and two Moorcock pieces. The songs loosely tell a story of the hopes and dreams of a group of space voyagers as they travel in suspended animation through space to their destination.
"I'd often discussed with Dave and Nik the idea of dong a Space Ritual', which was something I had thought of doing much earlier, when I was living in Margate. In fact a lot of the stuff I wrote for Hawkwind I had written earlier when I was living with my Mum."
This is Hawkwind Do Not Panic
"The Space Opera, which is really a ritual, was Bob Calvert's idea. It's almost a religious
ceremony - some of our gigs have that kind of atmosphere. Most of the material was written by
Bob and concerns a fantasy about seven cosmonauts who are travelling through space in a state
of suspended animation. The Space Opera is an audio-visual portrayal of their fantasies and
dreams as they travel through space. It's a very flexible situation in which there is all kinds of
scope to bring up subjects which are relative to our society in more realistic terms of ecology."
The finished show featured dancers, lights and a tour programme based around its central theme. Its final form is probably not quite as Calvert intended, since he was absent from much of the planning due to being in and out of asylums again because of pressure of work.
S.F: "How did the Space Ritual idea come about?"
B.C: "Well, it didn't really come about, it was an idea that didn't ever really get off the ground."
D.B: "It was never done to its fullest, it was only half done."
Interview with Dave Brock and Bob Calvert
"Sniffin Flowers" magazine (2nd issue) circa 1977
The show is preserved on the double live album "Space Ritual"P which many Hawkwind fans consider to be their finest moment.
The follow-up single to "Silver Machine" was another Calvert song "Urban Guerilla"; it was released in August 1973 but banned by the BBC and withdrawn from sale when a wave of IRA bombings in mainland Britain worried the record company.
"It didn't surprise me that it was banned by the BBC at all. In fact I expected it to cause a lot of controversy - it made the front pages of the newspapers. I was heavily taken to task - I had to give interviews which were quite embarrassing - because of the statements I'd made in the song - which obviously weren't a refutation of guerilla tactics at all. I meant it as a metaphor for an attitude."
Calvert left the band again in November of 1973 as they embarked on an American tour, the pressures of the lifestyle once more taking their toll. As Lemmy remarked, "He saw the symptoms coming and split."
Nick Kent's comments from an earlier split are apt:
"For some months, Robert Calvert was the lead vocalist, but problems centering around the
unstabling effect on both the mind and the ego forced him into a mental hospital. Calvert is, to
put it mildly, an overwhelming person, possessing a seemingly inexhaustible supply of natural
adrenaline and as such he seemed to take over Hawkwind's direction for a time. His ideas were
getting further and further out..... Calvert is capable of continuous flashes of brilliance but it is
his temporary inability to control them that is causing the hang-ups."
Nick Kent: Frendz July 1972
Officially Calvert left in order to give time to projects outside the band, the first of these being the "Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters" album, released in 1974. Employing musicians from Hawkwind and elsewhere, as well as the voices of Viv Stanshall and Arthur Brown, Calvert uses songs and sketches to tell the story of the tragic consequences of the Luftwaffe's decision to buy 700 Lockheed Starfighter aircraft which they modified for use in unsuitable roles, leading to 150 crashes. Around this story Calvert weaves in many of the mythologies of flight, from Gremlins and Icarus to the ice-cool nerve of the test pilots.
"The music is based on the Germanic hypnotic riffs that Hawkwind use. The thing derives from the Velvet Underground primitive rhythms, but also using the technology of music. The drama is in short scenes and the music is a commentary on those scenes and an extension of them and take you on to the next scene. Rather what Bertholt Brecht called epic theatre in the thirties. I have tried to present the situation in terms that are my interpretation of events, using my humour. The whole thing was laughed at by everyone in Germany except the relatives of pilots that were killed. The plane wasn't designed to perform all the functions, including assault and battery, the German wanted it to do, the instruction manual was always changing, the pilots were constantly flying a new experimental plane and the ground staff were only conscripts who couldn't care less about it anyway."
The album brought critical acclaim and was to have been supported by an ambitious nationwide touring stage production but at the last minute a change of management meant that no money was available and the tour was cancelled.
"There are two separate reasons for cancelling the tour. The first is that Calvert is now under new management, who consider that the cost of the proposed tour would be prohibitive. After all, it was to have been an elaborate show, complete with sets, and a one-nighter itinerary on this basis would have presented many problems. Then again, Calvert himself is not keen on the idea of touring."
Calvert's next musical work "Lucky Leif and the Longships", released in 1975, used songs to tell the story of America.
"The idea for the album came to me as a spin-off from a sort of Jacobean gangster musical I've
written. The music itself deals with America in the Prohibition period and this, in some strange
way, prompted me to start thinking about the Vikings. You see, it struck me, when I was doing
some background reading, that it was very funny that when the Vikings discovered America they
should call the place Vinland, the land of wine, and that later the country should develop a bad
drinking problem. So, I started reading a translation of the Vinland saga, which I could see as
being relevant to the Prohibition days. Then I had a very good idea for an album."
Sounds, November 1975
"All the tracks have got more than one musical reference. I tried to keep the cross-reference
between American culture and Scandinavian folklore and ancient myths. Brian Eno made a lot of
difference. We both had to compromise. I really wanted his more objective view, it's easy to
imagine that an idea is working out when in fact it isn't. I still think Eno's the best producer I
could possibly have had. The recording went like a dream. We did have some friendly arguments
when we were working. Originally I wanted some dialogue sketches between the tracks, to help
along the narrative. But Eno advised me that dialogue and humour didn't really work on a LP. I
decided he was right and we left out the talking. But the storyline's still there. People had said
that each track's too isolated, and the album doesn't flow. But to me it's just a different kind of
NME September 1975
In August of 1975, Calvert joined Hawkwind on stage at the Reading Festival to perform several pieces including "Ode To A Crystal Set"; this led to him rejoining the band, now with the more central role of lead singer and frontman.
"I used to stand there and read poetry which I think is not every exciting. It's all right now and
then, but we try and work towards generating some excitement now, things have to change. It's
only like that half-way between singing and talking, you know, which I think is more acceptable.
Actually the German classical composers did that a lot. Kurt Weill used to call it sprechgesang',
which means talk-sing. There's no way of putting poetry to music."
Interview with Dave Brock and Bob Calvert
"Sniffin' Flowers" magazine (2nd issue) c. 1977
The first album to feature him as frontman was "Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music", a musically diverse project that showed a band on the verge of breaking up, all contributing individual tracks. Calvert's stand-out lyric on the album is "Steppenwolf";
"The original idea came from Adrian Wagner who asked me to write a song for his album
Distances Between Us'. He wanted a song about living in cities and I was re-reading Hesse's
Steppenwolf' at the time. It seemed to me that there was a strong myth in it about city life, and it
gave me the basic idea. Adrian played me the song he had written and I put the words to it. I
wasn't too happy with the final result though, because it lacked energy. So recently, when Dave
Brock and myself were looking for material, he played me this riff he'd written and I
immediately thought of using the words I'd written before with a bit of expansion. I'm still quite
pleased with it, especially the imagery - like that line My eyes are convex lenses of ebony'."
"Steppenwolf was a borrowed figure from the only Herman Hesse book I can actually stand....
Harry Haller is a fascinating character. He's not really a hero by any means, although he's sort of
the last of the great romantic heroes, a solitary figure who stays in his room writing poetry and
letters in a smoking jacket. The hero figure is something I am fascinated in, mostly in sending
up. ...I wanted to be funny. Although a lot of people took it as being something more sinister.... I
must confess I really didn't see anything funny in it myself.... I was really trying to do two
things. If you take two almost opposite things and mix them together in the right proportions,
you get an effect which is quite resonant. The idea was to have the werewolf films combined
with Hesse's ManWolf - a big distinction."
Interview April 1981 - Cheesecake no. 5
Soon after the release of Astounding Sounds, the band was split up by Brock and Calvert - they express distaste that parts of the band are trying to introduce a more funky edge to the music - even long-term member Nik Turner was purged. The new line-up had a much more punk approach to their work.
"I lost contact with the scene for a while, especially during my Lucky Leif" stage, but now I feel very stimulated. I think I'm going to become England's answer to Iggy Pop, I really do. A raw
type Iggy. I'm thoroughly getting off on it. It's Captain Lockheed all over again. It's great, it's
like the reawakening of a good spirit."
The subject matter of the songs also changed subtly away from the fantasy influence of recent years to a more "New Wave" SF influence, as shown by Brock and Calvert talking about their next album "Quark, Strangeness and Charm".
"It is one of the few albums available at the moment which is very in touch with the modern
world, and Hawkwind is a band which has always been in touch with the modern world, in spite
of what people say in the press, boringly and interminably, that we are left over from a peace and
love psychedelic era, which we were in fact a part of, but we were still very much in touch with
what was outside that.... that revolution of the time and we still are. The album is called Quark,
Strangeness and Charm'. The title itself is an expression of modern physics terminology. You
will find on this album a selection of musical and poetical interpretations of the world we live
in, including threat not only of nuclear war but the threat of the Middle East becoming a very
powerful influence on the future of this globe, as they are proving at the moment with their
dominance of energy."
Radio One interview 1977
On stage with Hawkwind, Calvert performs each song in character with props and costumes, turning them into theatrical performances. A gentleman in top hat and tails for Steppenwolf or a sword-wielding Lawrence of Arabia type figure for Hassan I Sahba. The strain of performing in character combined with his continuing mental problems means that he is gradually almost taken over by them, something which exacerbates his already profound mood swings. In late 1977, on Hawkwind's tour of Europe, at a time when there is an ever-present threat of terrorist action, Calvert insists on travelling everywhere in combat fatigues, with a gas pistol in a holster at his side. The rest of the band decide not to complete the tour after a gig in Paris and leave Calvert behind; the ensuing scene exemplifies one of Calvert's more manic episodes:
"I recall the image of actually chasing a silver Mercedes limousine, that had four or five
long-haired individuals in it, with the windows all wound up, through the streets of Paris,
wearing this uniform! This is absolutely true, all the passers-by, the people out shopping, stopped dead. It was like a scene out of a movie like Alphaville' or a New Wave French film. All these people
stopped dead in their tracks with their mouths open, watching this scene take place, this silver car
speeding away with this guy chasing it, wearing this uniform. When it got to the traffic lights, I
was so fucking annoyed with Brock and the others that I tried to get the door open, shaking this
vehicle up and down. It looked like I was single-handedly trying to turn it over and arrest those
people in it. When the lights changed the car went off.... When the car drove off, I was left
standing there in this uniform. Suddenly realising that on either side of this thoroughfare in Paris
were all these people shopping who were used to seeing terrorism. They really panicked. I tried
to say, in simple French, hey look, it's all right you know, it's OK, calm down."
Interview 1981 - Cheesecake no 5
Calvert was taken back to England by Hawkwind's road manager, Jeff Dexter, who had a terrible time convincing him that there was not a huge conspiracy to kill him. However, on his return to England and away from the pressure of touring, Calvert appears to have become more in control of himself. The split with Hawkwind was short-lived, since before the end of the year there were recording for what was eventually to become the PXR5 album, but the release was delayed by another breakup of the band.
In December 1977, Calvert rejoined Brock and West Country band Ark for a benefit concert in Barnstaple, under the name Sonic Assassins.28 Calvert was in a very odd frame of mind and wanted to pull out of the gig, but was talked into it by the others. What they hadn't told him was that they had agreed to improvise electronic pieces between the songs to provoke a reaction. Calvert turned up to the gig in full battledress. Three tracks from the event were released in 1981 and show Calvert utterly perplexed by what is going on; at one point, what he thinks is going to be the introduction to "Master Of The Universe" turns into a long electronic jam, he shouts "Hey Dave, cut the Gypsy music", but then turns in one of his most riveting performances as he improvises a piece about the First World War, "Over The Top".
The American tour early in 1978 seems to have been a depressing experience for everybody concerned; Dave Brock was so keen to break up the band that he left the stage after the last gig in San Francisco and sold his guitar to a fan in the audience. However, back in the UK, again Brock and Calvert put together a band formed out of the Sonic Assassins; due to legal problems they called the band The Hawklords.
The Hawklords were even more a reaction to punk rock - a hard-edged set of songs with a general theme of industrialisation and the role of modern man in it. The tour in support of the album featured another elaborate stage set and dancers, and, as the live album from the tour documents, features a band playing with a lot of energy and intensity. The problems, however, were not far away -
"He'd froth at the mouth and smash his fists against walls. I can remember walking into a
dressing room and finding him pounding his fists against his chest like a gorilla, saying I'm the
most important person around here, they're all here to see me.'"
Harvey Bainbridge - This is Hawkwind Do Not Panic
- and they eventually became insurmountable for both Calvert and the rest of the band. Calvert demanded that drummer Martin Griffin be sacked.
"It was obvious that the chemistry wasn't very good. Maybe it was unusual for Calvert to have
another extrovert in the band."
"Calvert was really freaking out, he was suffering from a persecution complex. He thought
everyone was against him."
Brock acquiesced and Griffin was replaced by Simon King; but Calvert left anyway.
"I wanted to leave before then. I had had enough of it all. I think it was a force of circumstances
and events that made me stay as long as I did. I really only wanted to do the Space Ritual, to see
it done because it was a vision. I should have left then, but I got caught up with this steam engine
of events that was steaming along. It was going so fast that I couldn't get off."
This Hawkwind Do Not Panic
"There was a lot of backbiting. I remember when an awful lot of plotting went on to bring down various key figures, myself included. It was quite often like a complex of cross-plotting. Certainly enough to feed the average paranoid mind with enough material to send it right over the edge - a lot of backstabbing - but also good human comradeship and a lot of good humour. I can't say that I regret any time I spent in that area at all. I don't think there is a likelihood that I will ever perform with a band called Hawkwind again."
There were occasional writing credits and guest appearances to come, but that was essentially the end of his involvement with the band. His relationship with the rest of the group, and they with him, remained complicated. It often seemed endearingly eccentric, but by the time of Calvert's death, he was taking prolonged legal action over unpaid royalties.
"The funny things about Bob Calvert is that he keeps doing these really objectional things. Like,
when we were playing at the Hammersmith Odeon, he turns up outside with a placard saying
All the money from this show is going straight into Dave Brock's wallet' and he's walking up
and down shouting at the queue through a megaphone, Hawkwind are sellouts, don't go and see
Hawkwind. Come and see my show down the road.' Then just before we're due to go on, he
drops round at the stage door, puts his placard down and comes to say hello' and asks us if we
want him to play. Then when we're finished, he picks up his placard and megaphone and goes
to catch the crowd on their way out."
Dave Brock - Sounds 6/11/82
"The story of Hawkwind is one of dominance. Brock over all the others who float in and out."
Robert Calvert - Pete Frame Book of Rock Family Trees
This period in Hawkwind was also a prolific one for outside activities for Calvert. In 1975, he was awarded first prize in the Capitol Radio London Poetry Competition for his poem "Circle Line", a short play about Jimi Hendrix's career in the US airforce. "The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam's Dice" was staged in 1976, and his first collection of poems "Centigrade 232" was published in 1978.
Immediately after leaving Hawkwind, Calvert released a solo single "Cricket Star" on Adrian Wagner's Wake Up Records label.
"Just after Captain Lockheed in 1973.... I wanted to make a reggae single, as a sort of send-up of reggae. In those days reggae wasn't a commercially viable sort of music (....)
Adrian.... suggested to me that I resurrect the song and it's meant to be a joke and is a joke.... I
haven't heard the song since then, I don't know how good it is, but it isn't the original tape
unfortunately. The original tape was in fact so authentically reggae-sounding that the director of
United Artists was absolutely horrified, he wanted to have nothing to do with it at all."
1978 interview - Warriors On The Edge Of Time no. 4
In 1980 and 1981, Calvert toured with his Krankschaft cabaret and wrote and performed a musical called "The Kid From Silicon Gulch", which incorporated his fascination for private eyes and computers.
"What gave me the idea to do a detective play is the fact that I've got his really battered old
raincoat, like detective's raincoat. This is the way, I think, good art is produced."
April 1981 interview - Cheesecake no. 5
In 1981, Calvert released a new studio album to tie in with his first novel. The project was called Hype. In it the hero, Tom Mahler, is manipulated by the music business and finally killed in order to create a legend and guarantee sales.
"HYPE focusses on the music business but it isn't based on my experiences as such. It is obviously derived from stuff I picked up hanging around record companies. I've drawn characters who are recognisable (as) types but not individuals from these experiences, but the story line of the book and the events in it are not based on my own experiences but are fiction. There's an album included to this novel which is published by New England Library - and they complement each other - as the book describes what happens to a young band who get very badly used by a record company and internal power struggles between two overambitious individuals, who use this band as an elaborate game of spy vs. spy - but it's not a comedy.
I wanted it to be a comedy. When I had initial talks with NEL about doing the book I had very much in mind doing it almost like PG Wodehouse would, might, have written about the music business, had he known about it. I wanted to write about the music business in the late 70s and early 80s the way he wrote about Hollywood in the Twenties. But they talked me around to the way of seeing the potential of writing a thriller about the business which I ended up doing but it has got elements of black humour and sarcasm although the plot is very much a sort of fast-moving thriller type plot. The album features the songs of the band themselves - the Tom Mahler Band. And that's going to be released the same time as the book."
The album featured the band Bethnal as well as appearances by ex-Hawkwind members Simon House and Mike Moorcock.
"The way the record came about was because when I was writing the book I had to keep inventing songs to make it credible.
Every time I thought of a song title, it seemed necessary to quote a line from it. And suddenly it
took shape as a song. This bloke Tom Mahler actually did become quite real to me at one point. I
didn't actually plan to do an album of the book until I was about a quarter of the way into it. It
came to me that I'd have to record his songs. One excuse for doing it, I'm not comparing literary
worth to Boris Pasternak, but Pasternak in Dr. Zhivago quotes a collection of Zhivago's poems,
and I'd often felt it was an interesting idea to invent somebody who does something and then do
it - it gives you another dimension of fictional reality."
Radio interview 1982
Calvert's next work was with Nik Turner's band Inner City Unit under the name of "The Imperial Pompadours". The album "Ersatz" is a collection of songs about Hitler, the Third Reich and fascism. Calvert also played live with Inner City Unit during this period.
"Watching Bob and Nik together for the first time since Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music'
was great! They really had fun together, those rehearsals remain some of my fondest memories,
they would trade rock n' roll standards, delivering them tongues firmly in cheeks, almost camp.
They are, of course, both absolutely mad (in the clinical sense....) They became other people on
stage, you could talk to them during shows and not a word got through, their eyes completely
glazed over, giving 100% of themselves. I've never seen that in any other people I've played
Steve Pond (member of ICU and friend of Calvert) KGW
By the time of the 1984 solo album "Freq", Calvert's solo work became much more austere in form - just voice, synthesiser and drum machines. The major theme of "Freq" is Work and the songs are intercut with interviews and sounds from the miners' strike that was then underway in the UK.
"I actually made "Freq" in a computer studio, where they had microphones that had to be
plugged into the desk to get their voltage.... and you had to stand about twenty-five feet away
form it, otherwise you blasted it or something, and you could sing behind a closed door and it
would pick you up quite clearly. And I found this quite frightening really to work with."
Interview 1987 - Warriors On The Edge Of Time No. 4
The next studio album "Test Tube Conceived" in 1986 was his last. It deals with the effects of science, particularly genetics, upon the world. Arising out of it is the play "Test Tube Baby Of Mine", about two geneticists whose experiments go wrong. The play premiered in London and was performed in New York.
"I'm not at all opposed to scientific progress, but what I'm opposed to is the possible misuse of
scientific discoveries which is the main danger we face.... The prospects are quite terrifying that a
human being can actually be created... without a womb.... in incubation machines of some sort. I
think that in fact is the most important thing we have to worry about in this period of history - in
my opinion it overshadows nuclear war as a threat. I think what it does is fundamentally
questions what a human being actually is. It enables the possibility of human life being considered to be extremely expendable if it's extremely creatable."
Interview 1987 - Warriors On The Edge Of Time No. 4
Also in 1986, Calvert recorded a reading of poems from Centigrade 232 for tape release and two cassettes of musical demos recorded at his home in Margate - subsequently released as the Cellar Tapes.
"The reason I did them was because I know myself I would be interested if I could hear the
demos made of songs that I've liked. I think the demos are often much more interesting than the
finished recordings which were done under such a clinical setup. Also where other musicians are
involved, with their own ideas, you get a very sort of ideal public performance which in fact very
often gets away from the original intentions of the work."
Interview 1987 - Warriors On The Edge Of Time
Calvert also hooked up with Steve Pond and Ded Fred Reeves from the remnants of Nik Turner's Inner City Unit in 1986 to form a touring band - this lineup was captured on the album "Robert Calvert At The Queen Elizabeth Hall". In 1987, Calvert's second collection of poems "The Earth Ritual" was published.
"I wouldn't say I was an urban poet, actually, if you are going to be rude about it, I'm much more
of a sub-urban poet at the moment. I wrote the Earth Ritual book as a deliberate escape,
obviously taking the Space Ritual and putting it back down to earth, as a title, to approach
subject matter from a different perspective other than speculative or science-fiction."
Interview 1987 - Warrior On The Edge Of Time
At the time of his sudden death from a heart attach on August 14th 1988, Calvert was on the verge of rejoining Hawkwind, he was writing a second novel and there was talk of another solo album produced by Brian Eno.
"Whether I'm a poet of the space age, is obviously a question that will have to be answered when
the space age is actually in progress and has been reviewed from a future perspective."
Interview 1987 - Warrior On The Edge Of Time