NIK TURNER, saxophonist, flautist, vocalist and founding member of psychedelic rock band Hawkwind, has died aged 82 surrounded by his beloved family.
Turner was an early member of the group and rose to the top of the UK charts with the single “Silver Machine”. He quickly established himself as an essential part of the band’s sound, adding immersive layers of saxophone and flute to their improvised jams. Turner left Hawkwind in 1976 to pursue a solo career, making music alone and with other groups, including Sphynx and Nik Turner’s Inner City Unit, before joining Hawkwind for occasional appearances over the next three decades.
He was a man of the people who lived and breathed music. He was instrumental in shaping and cultivating the modern free party and festival scene, including Stonehenge and Glastonbury Festival, where he was part of Joe Rush and the arts collective Mutiod Waste Company. He was recognized for his contribution alongside Andrew Kerr to the “Spirit of ’71” at Glastonbury.
He has toured the world including traveling to Egypt where he performed atop the Great Pyramid of Giza and recorded inside the Pyramid with his flute and captured the unique reverberation of the historic space.
More importantly, Nik was an essential member of British counterculture from the 60s through to the 90s. He heavily influenced so many genres including rock, punk, psychedelic jazz and so many musicians and artists, including Alice Cooper, Henry Rollins, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Pete Doherty, Ozzy Osbourne and many more.
He was a friend and collaborator of British science fiction legend Michael Moorcock, graphic design genius Barney Bubbles, Robert Calvert and cartoonist Brett Ewins (2000AD). His Pyramid stage was the centerpiece of the Stonehenge festivals and inspired the iconic Glastonbury Festival stage today.
His name was verified by Jimi Hendrix at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival and performed a solo saxophone eulogy at the funeral of Hawkwind member and Motörhead founder Lemmy.
A versatile musician and improviser who often plays jazz and blues influences, Turner appeared on Hawkwind’s first seven albums, including “Hawkwind” (1970), “Doremi Fasol Latido” (1972), and “In Search of Space” (1971). .
His influence lasted for decades as he continued to perform live until recent years. He continued to record into his 80s, including his most personal work on the album “Do What I Like”, and projects with Youth and Steve Hillman.
Turner’s death marks the end of an era for one of the most innovative and influential bands in rock history. Nik Turner will be remembered as a true pioneer whose contributions helped shape the sound of Hawkwind and countless other artists who followed in their wake.
A statement on Turner’s website reads: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nik Turner – The Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening. He moved on to the next phase of his cosmic journey, guided by the love of his family, friends and fans. Watch this space for its arrangements.