the works of Robert Calvert

- part III: 1976 > '78 -

"I work these peculiar hours between ten at night to five in the morning (...)
the rest of the time I'm thinking about it. After I've finished, I get into bed
and put a tape on and watch about three movies before I go to sleep.
This is the most bizarre thing - the birds are singing outside and there are movies on TV." - R.C.

This list of Calvert's works is broken up into six parts.
This part [ III ] includes the works from '76 to '78.

jump straight to part I / II / IV / V / VI

... roll down to explore part III ...

more on the ASTOUNDING cover artwork by BARNEY BUBBLES and TONY HYDE 1976 -


After a guest appearance with Hawkwind at the Reading Festival in late '75 Calvert rejoins the band, now as their permanent lead singer, influencing the band's style a lot. He becomes famous for his qualities as an entertainer, his talent for improvisation and the eccentricity and theatricality of his shows. He creates a performance for each song using countless props and costumes. Hawkwind's Atomhenge model, which is used throughout the 1976/77 tours, is a gigantically extended molecular model that stretches over the entire stage and serves at the same time as a projection element. Calvert writes all the lyrics and has a far-reaching influence on the music of the band. But at this stage the group consisted of 8 members - and there were obviously too many wanna-be captains on board - so the album gathers a strange mixture of styles due to the fact that almost every member delieverd a song. Though the quality is varying it contains two absolute highlights: the fascinating Steppenwolf - featuring some of the the best lyrics Calvert ever wrote and the paranoid and driving 'Reefer Madness'
However, the struggles that were lying ahead were probably inevitable. 3 of the 6 members were shown the door by Brock and Calvert - now sharing control of the band - and for good actually, as the next record became their true Meisterwerk.
Read Calvert's comments on the story around his Steppenwolf lyrics - steming from Hesse's book.
> More pics and infos on ASTOUNDING SOUNDS...
> More on the artwork for ASTOUNDING - by Tony Hyde and Barney Bubbles - one of Britain's most influential designers.
Reefer Madness / Steppenwolf (illustrated - plus sound) / City of Lagoons / The Aubergine that ate Rangoon / Kerb Crawler / Kadu Flyer / Chronoglide Skyway / - the new CD-release by Griffin features also: Back on the Streets / Honky Dorky / The Dream of Isis

1976 -


A one-act stage-play which had its first night in London in 1976. It was restaged in Oct. 1985 (directed by Paul Jerricho) and in May 1990 (directed by Marc Stewart and Simon Tyler).
The story takes place in an airplane over the drop zone of a military training area. It is based on a significant incidence in Jimi Hendrix“ life during his military service: Hendrix enlisted at age 17 in the US Airborne Paratroopers. He made 25 jumps and was inmidst his training when suddenly becoming afraid of his next jump... - refusing to step outside, because an inner-voice told him so...
His antagonist in this play, Sergeant McNulty, 100% red-neck-military-machine, tries to persuade Private James Marshall Hendrix out of the plane and into the sky. Alone together on this exercise flight, private and sergeant fight their own war over their opposing American dreams.
On his last jump Jimi broke his ankle and injured his back. He was released from the Army only to make the much greater jump into the rock-music arena, entrancing the psychedelic and various other generations to come - before his final leap into the musician's pantheon.
> Read some illustrated reviews of the performances in '76 and '85. 'THE STAR...' wasn't the only time that Jimi Hendrix incinerated Calvert's imagination: Cattle at Twilight is a short prose-text he wrote on Hendrix and Noël Coward...watching some of us from up there...
> Voodoo Child (animated. poem & sound files - a lot of very wothwhile data...) - Calvert's ode to Hendrix; from Centigrade 232
- incl. a soundfile of Calvert's live-cover version of Purple Haze.
> NEWS; 18. Aug. 2005
Pentameters poster for the Calvert production in 2008The Pentameters Theatre, London presents:
"The Stars That Play With Laughing Sam’s Dice"
by Robert Calvert

Pentameters presents the first production in 20 years of this fascinating play, about a little-known and formative episode in the early life of Jimi Hendrix, and the first production of the play since the death of the author in 1988.
The play was written in 1975/76 and was first produced by Leonie Scott-Matthews at Pentametres Theatre in 1976.
More infos HERE

> NEW: read a collection of reviews of the 2005-staging of The Stars...

> NEWS - Sept. 2008
The Pentameters Theatre in London did it once again...
as part of the theatre's 40th anniversary and in memory of Calvert, who died 20 years ago, the Pentameters team produced yet another staging of "The Stars..." - and not only that... they made it into a wonderful double-bill, as they also premiered Calvert's short dialogue piece Cattle at Twilight. Hat's off to Pentameters and especially to Léonie Scott-Matthews who directed and produced these shows.

1977 -


THE milestone record of Calvert and Hawkwind - showing the songwriter team Brock and Calvert on the peak of inspiration. A new and tighter line-up, Calvert / Brock / House / King plus the new fabulous bass-player Adrian Shaw are performing a number of all-time HW classics. Energetic and - with a very modern approach. This album is certainly on the height of it`s time and was a strong influence for a lot of upcoming New Wave bands - though they probably would`ve never admitted it then.... Every band member seems to be on the peak of his abilities and the chemistry between them is just perfect.
Calvert`s subjects range from new technologies / post-nuclear wastelands / the threat of Islamic fundamentalism / an ambiguous review of the lost and commercialised "Days of the Underground" to the subtle ironies of "Quark, Strangeness and Charm". With this record the band finally received the long overdue critical acclaim they deserved. Melody Maker even chose "Quark...." as the single of the month - and the band eventually appeard in Marc Bolan's TV show to play that track. Other classics are the oriental-style sabre-dance 'Hassan I Sahba' and the hypnotic 'Spirit of the Age' - for which lyrics Calvert made use of two of his best poems: The Clone's Poem and The Starfarer's Dispatch.
I know that they are a bore, these "must have" recommendations - but this REALLY is one!
> Find Calvert's comments on the album on the QUOTES pages.
> And yet more infos on QUARK...
> READ a review of QUARK from the NME, July 1977.
Spirit of the Age / Damnation Alley / Fable of a Failed Race / Quark, Strangeness and Charm (illustrated - plus sound) / Hassan I Sahba / Forge of Vulcan (instrumental) / Days of the Underground / Iron Dream (instrumental)

> NEWS: July 2004: HAWKWIND - the unstoppable pioneers of space/sci-fi rock - are shortly releasing their new album TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER - it will also contain a new version of the classic QUARK-track Spirit of the Age - feat. Matthew Wright as guest vocalist. The new version of SPIRIT OF THE AGE will also be released as a single - and on top of it the band has produced a video to accompany it's release. More infos on it's production can be found HERE.

1977 - Centigrade 232 - poems
  "232 is the temperature at which writing paper burns rather than book paper. It's meant to signify the writer destroying his rough drafts." - R.C.

A first comprehensive overview of some of Calvert's best poetical works up to this time. Though he is mainly remembered as a musician, Calvert saw himself primarily as a poet - so this publicaton was extremely important to him.
"There aren't any science-fiction poems in the book, oddly enough. I've written several but they were pruned out when I was finishing the collection. For years I've wanted to put out a definitive collection of poems and therefore one had to be extremely ruthless with the final choice." (from an interview in 1977)
In a unique manner Calvert combines scientific / futuristic themes with his private views and obsessions on a highly emotional level - interspersed with his ironic and sarcastic overtones.
Creating intense imageries and lucid, sometimes frightening visions of the human formulae, in the future. However not all the poems are focusing on scientific subjects.
One of the many outstanding pieces is
the legend of ezra pound - a marvellous combination of poetical tension, biting wit and surreal imagery that culminates in the evocation of Pound's traumatic experience when he got imprisoned by the American troops in Italy - 'for offences against the air', as Calvert put it - ending his life wandering through the corridors of his daughter's castle and "...firing at the echoes of the past with his guns of silence." -- just one short example of Calvert's talent for crafting astonishing word-imagery.
Another example of his wide range of themes is the poem Fly on the Screen, which, in describing a seemingly trivial, day-to-day incident while watching at the omnipresent set. Calvert proofs his unique talent to combine (media-)critical and analytical views (which were again quite ahead of his time) with his poetical talent - while describing a phenomenon (and it's far-reaching consequences) that a number of post-modern philosphers wrote stacks of books about... - all packed into just 4 verses.
The book is out of print today, as all of Calvert's writings - which is a definite SHAME - but hopefully, this will change soon.
In 1986 Calvert read CENTIGRADE 232 on tape and released it on his private mail order service named Harbour publications. Though all of the poems are recited in quite a calm and almost restraind manner, these performances bear a brooding intensity - often mixed with superb humorous (I'd say 'Calvertian') undertones. A good example for this is his hilarious piece on Winston Churchill as a rock star:
"There's one called "Churchill's Secret Rock Deal" - which was actually a headline dealing with one of th younger Churchills, not Winston, working out some deal with Franco over the Rock of Gibraltar. It was such a beautiful idea it made me think of a poem about Winston setting up a record contract."

> NEW:
a memory-report of the Centigrade 232 book-launch-event - read all about the strange incidents way back in 1977. (and in case you think that the cover of the book is quite misleading in terms of it's content, you are actually quite right - however, it wasn't in terms of the book-launch...)
> You'll find a broad selection from the 'Centigrade 232' poems on the WORDS pages.
> Several poems are presented on separate,
illustrated pages, including soundfiles of Calvert reading them. Find the whole collection at Calv-Art.
> Switch to some comments of
Calvert on the story of Ezra Pound and a planned stageplay project on him. [HERE you'll find Calvert's outstanding poem on Pound]
> In 1975 Calvert won the Capital Radio Poetry Award with one of the poems feat. in CENTIGRADE 232: CIRCLE LINE - HERE you'll find a transcription of the live-phone-call, when the Capital Radio's DJ delivered the good news to the poet himself...

1977 - a lost stageplay on
Donald Crowhurst and Brian Jones

This is a mysterious project... - As most artists whose creative output is as enormous as Calvert's was, he toyed with a number of ideas, concepts and plans - and inevitably, a lot of them never got beyond that stage. This stageplay, however, actually seems to have been realized. Around 1977, shortly before the release of Centigrade 232, his first extensive volume of poetry, Calvert mentions this stageplay a couple of times in various interviews - and he also stated it's been already completed. From the details given here one should assume it was - however: so far the manuscript never showed up. Then again: a lot of Calvert's original manuscripts a.o. material seems to have disappeared or went m.i.a. along his troubled ways....
The play - as described in those interviews - is confronting two protagonists who came from quite a different background - but - according to Calvert - were facing similar problems and... eventually "found" the same cause of death (by drowning): Brian Jones and Donald Crowhurst.

This play shows once more Calvert's fascination for the lone, ambivalent and tragic hero - and this time he has chosen even two as the play's protagonists.
"A lot of the things that were happening to Brian Jones were happening to Donald Crowhurst. The play is full of strange circumstances because they were both driven to a kind of suicide by inadequacy and the drive of ambition for fame. They were carried along by the publicity.
The point I`m trying to make in the play is to show the pressures individuals have to put up with when they`re faced with big organisations like the whole Rolling Stones machine or the Sunday Times.
At the end of the play Brian Jones and Donald Crowhurst meet up with each other after they`ve died and they have a kind of underwater conversation."
(R.C. in an interview, 1977)

Jones, as it's surely known, drowned in his swimming-pool, shortly after he received his pink slip - i.e. being sacked as the Rolling Stones' guitarist. (Needless to say that there are rumours around that he was killed...). The case of Crowhurst is a more twisted one...
Crowhurst was running an electronics company, he saled navigational equipment and various of his own inventions in these areas. He was, a most inventors probably are, and ambitious man - but his company had fallen heavily into debt and he felt he'd never received the recognition he deserved. So, in 1968, when the Sunday Times organized their "Golden Globe Challenge", a round-the-world-yacht competiton, Crowhurst figured this could be his chance to achieve fame and the much-needed money (5000 £ for the winner).
Crowhurst knew a thing or two about sailing - but apparently not enough for a trip like this. Still he managed to find a sponsor to build his self-designed trimaran-boat. But the time was to short and on the 31st of Oct. '68, when he kissed his wife and 4 children goodbye, he was setting out on a boat which was far from perfect - it wasn't even functional. Things were bound to go wrong - and they did in a rather odd and finally tragic way. The problems must have begun shortly afterwards. Screws going loose, the steering gear breaking down, incoming water everywhere....
Crowhurst soon realized he wouldn't have the slightest chance to win such a race - but he couldn't face the prospect to return home and admit yet another defeat - and this was not only because of the personal humiliation but also because in case he'd back out of the race he had to buy the whole boat from his sponsor, thus getting into even more debts... - So, he figured he had to fake his way through the competition and thus began to write a 2nd, faked log-book and feeding the home-front with infos of his own invention. By sending false positions and weather reports he kept the media and his family under the impression that he was in fact leading the race - and for the time being he was hailed as the new national hero. But things got even more twisted and tragic.... - His initial plan to pretend to come in 2nd or 3rd, thus gaining recognition but escaping the greater attention that might uncover his betrayal, also went wrong. The by-then leading boat capsized and he received reports of the great reception waiting for him. A no-win-situation of the worst kind...
In the meantime Crowhurst apparently got more and more obsessed by some ideas he had picked up from one of of the few books he had on board: Einsteins theory of relativity. Adding a few twists of his own imagination to Einsteins theory on the speed of light et al - he soon began to see a possible exit out of his lonely, desperate situation...
Together with his faked logbook, Crowhurst must have invented a new world of it's own - and the blank, wide-open sea surely is a good place to do so and get lost in it. He began to write an extensive philosophical essay into the logbook - he wrote about God, time and infinity... - coming to conclusions such as:
"Nature does not allow God to sin any sins except one - that’s the sin of concealment."
Was it a total self-delusion, was it pure desperation? A moment of clarity - or even enlightenment? Whatever it was, around the 1st of July '69 "it" finally made up Crowhurst's mind to abandon his ship and go overboard.... - 10 days later a British postboat came across the "Teignmouth Electron, Crowhurst's trimaran. The crew discovered the logbooks and found the captain - and his chronometer - missing...

> HERE you'll find more material on this missing project: interview snippets of Calvert, links for the whole story of the gone-astray-would-be-super-sailsman Donald Crowhurstand - and the life and death of Brian Jones - Calvert's two heroes underwater.

1978 - PXR5 - Lp with Hawkwind

Adrian Shaw + Calvert - live at Reading Festival 1977 Unfortunately the last album the band recorded with their best line-up; featuring the wonderful, but sadly enough only track Adrian Shaw contributed: Jack of Shadows. Other highlights are the haunting and driving Robot (in which lyrics Calvert quotes Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics), the heavy, paranoid Death Trap and the wonderful, melodic High Rise which is based on J. G. Ballard`s novel of the same name and addresses the darker aspects of the human-life in the cities - the alienating, and in effect de-humanizing effects of being gathered in a (quite common) architectural structure - or rather life-form: the sky-scraper. The further one descends into this metaphorical ladder of evolution the more he slips back into a primordial, beastly state of being. The skyscraper as the perfect symbol for man`s inability to overcome certain "killer-instincts" - wrapped into an even more disconcerting melodic and poetical beauty.
Themes like the urban alienation became in fact some of the major subjects of up- coming New-Wave bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus etc. - Shortly after the recording the band split-up and PXR5 was only released after the next album.
> More infos on
Death Trap (flash-animation w. sound) / Jack of Shadows / Uncle Sam's on Mars (illustrated - plus sound) / Infinity / Life Form / Robot / High Rise / PXR5

1978 -

Lp with Hawklords / Hawkwind

Due to contractual reasons the band changed it's name to Hawklords for this album after they re-formed with a new drummer (Martin Griffin), bass-player (Harvey Bainbridge) and keyboarder (Steve Swindells). The album contains a collection of powerful compositions - and again mostly written by the duo Dave Brock and Robert Calvert. Calvert's ironical skepticism and fascination for new technologies is again the subject of various songs and he also offers a wonderful ballad: "(Only) The Dead Dreams of a Cold War Kid" - which is sublty evoking some intense imageries and the dreary atmosphere of a post-and-cold-war European landscape.
Unfortunately after the next tour this collaboration of Calvert and Hawkwind ended. Dave Brock and Bob Calvert certainly brought the best out of each other during those much too short 4 years. None of them ever reached that musical strength again for such a long period.
> NEW: An extensive, illustrated feature on the concept behind the 1978 Hawklords tour for which Calvert invented a brillant piece of a visionary concept: PAN TRANSCENDENTAL INDUSTRIES - "Reality You Can Rely On".
> More infos on the
> Read an extensive article / interview with Calvert and Mike Moorcock from that period / Nov. 1978.
> See some exclusive photos from the Hawklords gig at Leicester de Montford Hall, 1978
Psi Power (illustrated + sound) / Free Fall / Automotion / 25 Years On / Flying Doctor / The Only Ones / (Only) The Dead Dreams of a Cold War Kid / The Age of the Micro Man

...this list is as complete as it can be from the informations I've gathered so far.
If you know of any other works that don't appear on the following page/s,
please get in touch.

works pt. I / II / IV / V / VI
biography   words / lyrics
quotes   collab-relations
R.C. & Hawkwind   Mike Moorcock
the world on Calvert   the spirit behind
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