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Nik Turner, Hawkwind Saxophonist and Pioneer of British Space Rock, Dead at 82

Nik Turner, the multi-instrumentalist of the British space-rock band Hawkwind, has died. His death was confirmed on his Facebook on Nov. 11. “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nik Turner – The Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening,”  the statement on Turner’s Facebook reads. “He has moved onto the next phase of his Cosmic Journey, guided by the love of his family, friends and fans.” He was 82.

Born Nicholas Robert Turner on August 26, 1940 in Oxford, Turner’s family later relocated to the Kent seaside resort of Margate when he was 13. There he was exposed to rock music and the films of James Dean. Turner studied saxophone in his early twenties and while he started out as a roadie for Hawkwind in 1969, he soon joined the band as their saxophonist, flutist and vocalist.

As one of the earliest psychedelic space-rock groups, Hawkwind was also Lemmy Kilmister’s band for four years, before winding up in Motörhead. When recalling auditioning for Hawkwind at an open-air concert in 1971 at Powis Square in Notting Hill Gatein, Kilmister remembered hoping to land a slot as Hawkwind’s second guitarist. Instead, the band’s bassist didn’t show up and Kilmister was thrown on stage with Turner. Never having played bass in his life, the sax player told him, “Make some noises in E. This is called ‘You Shouldn’t Do That.’”

Earlier today, the Motörhead account tweeted, “We lost Lemmy’s old bandmate Nik Turner today. Play some Hawkwind nice and loud! Brainstorm here we go!”

Turner remained with Hawkwind until 1976, rejoining between 1982 and 1984. He would go on to form his own band Nik Turner’s Sphynx, followed by Inner City Unit, then Nik Turner’s Fantastic All Stars in the late 1980s. He went on to create the Hawkwind offshoot band Space Ritual in the 2000s and then Nik Turner’s Hawkwind.

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