Gathering for unveiling of Blue Plaque in memory of Hawkwind’s Robert Calvert

(Left) Kozfest Paul Woodright, friends, fans, Robert Calvert’s son Nick (with baby), daughter Helen Calvert (back row) Karmen and Jerry Richards (centre, front). Second from right Hawkwind bassist and singer Mr Dibs. Cheyenne Gary (front) with his dog. Photo Steven Collis

A gathering met at Arlington House in Margate on Friday to watch the unveiling of a Blue Plaque in memory of former Hawkwind co-founder Robert Calvert.

Robert was the frontman for space rock band Hawkwind during much of their classic 1970s period.

The plaque marks the building that his parents and siblings lived in during the 1960s.

Robert Calvert and Hawkwind in 1977

Calvert was Hawkwind’s singer, poet and conceptualist from 1971-73 and 1976-79. He co-wrote the band’s million-selling single ‘Silver Machine’ and appeared on classic albums including Space Ritual and Quark, Strangeness And Charm. He was the driving force behind Hawkwind’s transformation into the ultimate science fiction rock band as well as being a hugely charismatic and influential performer.

In his youth, Calvert worked at Dreamland, during which time he befriended future Hawkwind members Nik Turner and DikMik.

Photo Steven Collis

After leaving Hawkwind in 1979, Calvert returned to live in Thanet, settling in Ramsgate. It was from this base that he wrote his last two solo albums Freq and Test-Tube. He died from a heart attack in 1988 at the tragically early age of 43.

The Blue Plaque was organised by Thanet residents Nick Dermott and William Gary and among those to attend were family members and the Hawklords, who also a special one-off show at Olby’s Soul Café, Margate, with support from tribute band Motorheadz, plus Superheads.

Photo Steven Collis

Hawklords were initially founded by Robert Calvert and Dave Brock in 1978. The band produced one album. 25 Years On, which Robert considered to be his last contribution to Hawkwind-led albums. He then pursued other musical and literary interests.

In 2008 former Hawkwind member Nik Turner, Hawklords singer, songwriter and guitarist Jerry Richards and others rebooted The Hawklords to bring back their space rock and roll to audiences. After 11 consecutive albums, including new release Hawklords at Kozfest 2022, the band is still in demand for tours and festivals worldwide.

Hawklords guitarist Jerry Richards and Captain Rizz Photo Steven Collis

Jerry said: “Hawklords were thrilled to be asked to take part in the celebration of Robert Calvert’s legacy of theatre, poetry and performance art at Olby’s Soul Café. A packed audience were thrilled by just some of Robert’s poems and songs from down the ages during a two-hour set by the band.

“Parts of the show were as if time has stood still and Bob’s voice was echoing down the time-stream from the halcyon days of some of his most outstanding works.

Captain Rizz – rapper, poet and drummer and event organiser William Gary Photo Steven Collis

“It was a thrill to play for Bob’s children, Helen and Nick, who both attended the show, and for the fans who are still loyal and as enthusiastic for the band as they were back in Bob’s day.

“The late Robert Calvert continues to set the standard for observations about life, the universe and space rock.

“The unveiling of the Blue Plaque at Arlington House was very much overdue and is justly deserved for his contributions to music, poetry and art.”


  1. Kathy, I’m not trying to split hairs, but I just want to be sure of the history …
    The plaque says Bob lived in Arlington House in the 1960s, but the way your article is currently worded (“The plaque marks the building that his parents and siblings lived in during the 1960s.”) possibly suggests otherwise (ie that only Bob’s parents and siblings actually lived there, and Bob himself didn’t)? Which is it?
    The only reason I’m asking is because there have been a few leaps made on previous articles about this (ie the suggested claim that Arlington was ‘the’ inspiration for the track High Rise).
    And can I also ask, if Arlington is the ‘Birthplace of Space Rock’ as the plaque states, does that mean Bob wrote Hawkwind material (and the band rehearsed) in Arlington?

    • Hi, I didn’t do the wording on the plaque so you’d have to ask the organisers about that. It is said that Robert lived in Arlington with his family and that the building was an inspiration for High Rise (from Joe Banks who is an authority on the subject and in research carried out for a previous trilogy).It is a fact that his parents had a flat in Arlington and Nick Dermott, who was one of the organisers, is a historian of many years experience so he would have presumably researched the topic before coming up with the plaque.

      • Thanks Kathy. Joe Banks did get in touch with me when he was researching the Hawkwind book you refer to, as he needed some information in the course of him learning about the band and its history. However, on that occasion he didn’t ask me about Bob, our chat was in relation to another band-related matter …

        • How interesting. I’m glad we can document these pieces of social history and I found Joe’s article quite interesting

    • I agree with you John-Paul.
      There have been some surprising assertions in all the various Hawkwind articles that have appeared on this news website recently. And I would say the plaque too, not least that it proclaims Arlington House as the ‘Birthplace of Space Rock’. I think the Grove/Gate area in London is better placed to take that accolade – given that that was where the band was based in their early days, and like you say, Bob was not even a founder member of Hawkwind.
      I would also question the article when it states “Hawklords were initially founded by Robert Calvert in 1978”. As far as I’m aware, Bob was a co-founder, along with Dave Brock. The various splits between band members that have occurred over time probably doesn’t help as often the histories written get skewed by virtue of which former band members were and weren’t happy to co-operate with any given historical project and the people behind them.
      But then again, I’m always happy to be corrected.

  2. Yes without doubt Ladbroke Grove was where it all happened early on. Dave Brock & Co plugging into a power supply beneath the Westway flyover, The Hall if the Mountain Grill Cafe etc.etc. The list goes on. But taking nothing away from Robert of course – he was a genuine genius never to be forgotten……

  3. The article states Hawkwind formed in 1978 . I started following Hawkwind around 1974 and attended many of their
    Gigs . The first was at stonehenge free festival 1976 .Calvert was fronting the band at that time & that night they played for for hours for free. A brilliant memory and that hawkwind line up of Bob calvert , Dave
    Brock ,Nik Turner , Paul Rudolph , Simon House , And whoever was drumming at that time was my favourite. The gig and festival was in a feild opposite Stonhenge and Hawkwind had Atom Henge set up on stage . A brilliant time and Bob Calvert was on fire that night.

  4. Why does nobody mention Ian Fraser Kilmister (aka Lemmy). He sang for Hawkwind in 1972 to 75 as it says on his Wikipedia. Youtube Hawkwind Silver Machine 1972 live. That looks like a good night lol.

  5. I have been a Hawkwind fan since iwas the early space yrs of 12 & was never old enough to have seen them but if my memory serves me right i think Dave & Nik were the founding members of Hawkwind & yes Robert was Hawklords & many other albums as quarke strangess & charm but then i think he went of to do Robert calvert & the starfighters i think its excellent that he got a plauqe in memory of him. Pure genius but it should have been put in lindon because after all thats where HAWKWIND came out off i believe Hemel hemel hemstead labroke grove. But it brilliant that the blue plaque was put up any ways i also think one should deffinately be put up for NIK TURNER also another true english eccentric genuis that should be in london i waa fortunste enough to see him live with nik turners hawkwind such a pure gentleman that was a few yrs ago in cambridge massachuttes R.I.P.NIK & BOB. BE well earthlings……..

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