Hawkwind’s Robert Calvert to be commemorated with blue plaque

Brutalist tower block Arlington House in Calvert’s home town of Margate to be formally identified as the “birthplace of space rock”.

Robert Calvert blue plaque. Photo © William Gary

Robert Calvert, frontman for space rock legends Hawkwind during much of their classic 1970s period, is to be commemorated with a blue plaque in his home town of Margate.

The plaque will be erected on the side of Arlington House, the Brutalist tower block that dominates Margate’s skyline, where Calvert lived with his parents and siblings in the 1960s. Hawkwind’s classic song ‘High Rise’ was inspired by his time there.

The plaque will be officially unveiled this Friday (25th November) at 1.30pm. Location: Arlington House, All Saints Avenue, Margate CT9 1XP. Anybody is welcome to attend.

Robert 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.

Organised by local residents Nick Dermott and William Gary, the idea for the plaque was inspired by a similar one for T.S. Eliot affixed next to the Nayland Rock Shelter on Margate seafront.

Nick Dermott comments:

“Living in Arlington House, Calvert would have been surrounded by the vastness of the sky – for J.M.W. Turner, ‘the best skies in Europe’, which in the late 1960s would have been filled with US Air Force fighter jets based at RAF Manston five miles away. Robert Calvert, Hawkwind and Arlington House are all underappreciated examples of British culture that need to be celebrated.”

In his youth, Calvert worked at Dreamland, Margate’s famous amusement hall and venue, during which time he befriended future Hawkwind members Nik Turner and DikMik.

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

As well as being a singer and performer, Calvert was also a prolific writer, poet and playwright. In spring 2023, a major anthology of Calvert’s work – much of which was unreleased in his lifetime – will be published. More information can be found here.

❉ The Robert Calvert plaque will be officially unveiled this Friday (25th November) at 1.30pm. Location: Arlington House, All Saints Avenue, Margate CT9 1XP. Anybody is welcome to attend.

❉ In celebration of the plaque’s unveiling, the Hawklords will play a special one-off show on Friday 25 November at Olby’s Soul Café, Margate, with support from tribute band Motorheadz, plus Superheads. Tickets are available for the show here.

❉ News source: Joe Banks / https://www.daysoftheunderground.com. For further information, please contact Joe Banks: ifthisgoeson@yahoo.co.uk

❉ We Are Cult is not responsible for the content of this news release.

Header image: ‘South African writer, poet, and musician, Robert Calvert (1945 – 1988), wielding a dummy sten gun during a concert with English space rock group, Hawkwind, at Cardiff Castle, Wales, 24th July 1976. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)’

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