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xhistory - origins of Group X

The start of early Hawkwind/Group X from the eyes and ears of Mick Slattery, guitarist back then at the dawn of Hawkwind and now guitarist in spaceritual.net.

Augusts 69. Famous Cure had folded, but out of its ashes had come something a little bit different. We were still a sort of blues / rock band but then we recruited Nik and Dik-Mik and started experimenting with avant-garde and electronic sounds. Now I had a flat just off the Portobello Road in Talbot Road and Terry Ollis lived in the back room and most days everyone would meet up there, mainly to exchange drugs and get high before going off to rehearse. It also gave Nik the opportunity to heat up his tin of baked beans and blag several cups of tea.

Just down the road was All Saints Church and in the basement or tabernacle someone had been putting on bands on Friday nights. So one Friday evening I popped in as they were setting up the stage. I spoke to someone who looked like he was in charge and asked him if there was any chance we could come along later and do a couple of numbers? He said "Yeh - just turn up and play" he was probably only the electrician - but thats what we did. I rounded everybody up and we thought we'd better get a couple of numbers together and make up a name, but after a good few spliffs all we could come up with was Group X. But no matter, off we trotted to church, where we were given a ten minute spot by a bemused Doug Smith. We hadn't come up with a couple of numbers either, so we decided to just have a jam around a couple of chords (probably the only ones we knew). Actually it was the intro to Eight Miles High and then some very long solos and Dik-Mik twiddling with his generator and Nik honking up a storm and me and Dave getting our guitars to feed-back the way we'd seen Hendrix do it, and Terry thrashing his drumkit to within an inch of its life, while the strobes and liquid light show added to the air of chaos and insanity.

And then, twenty minutes later it was over, and much to our surprise, everyone loved it, including John Peel, who was in the audience and apparently advised Doug Smith to sign us up. which he did. Funnily enough, we've all remembered the number which we did back in 1969, which was called Sunshine Special. We played it at a recent gig in Crewe, where we had almost the same line-up and it was pretty weird doing it again - thirty two years later.

I've really enjoyed the gigs that we've done. The music has been wonderful in places and will get better. It can get pretty chaotic on stage, no one really knows what's going on - or what's going to happen. I only know about three of the numbers really, and so does Terry, though probably he doesn't know the same three as me!! So we more or less make it up as we go along, and that's exactly what we were doing at the beginning, so there we go!!

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