Nik Turner Leaves Our World In Search Of Space

Arguably, no one embodied intrepid spirit of space rock more perfectly than Nik Turner, a vastly underrated British musician who passed away, aged 82, on November 10th. He was the “wind” in HAWKWIND for the course-setting part of their existence – without him even the ensemble’s greatest album "Warrior On The Edge Of Time" would have sounded much less adventurous and had much duller character – but Turner’s often weird reeds colored many more projects such as SPHYNX and INNER CITY UNIT that Nik formed in the late ’70s and early ’80s as well as relatively recent THE TRANCE DIMENSIONALS, plus a myriad of collaborations with friends like Steve Hillage and Arthur Brown – although, undoubtedly, it’s thanks to the fiery licks on the likes of “Silver Machine” which he will remembered for most fondly.

The veteran didn’t want to stop, it was never on his agenda, and Turner’s latter-day slew of records – including the brilliant "Space Gypsy" from 2013, "Space Fusion Odyssey" from 2015, 2017’s "Life In Space" and "The Final Frontier" from 2019 – is a proof of that. The last one may seem to have become Nik’s final offering, indeed, yet there will be his 2CD/DVD set “Space Ritual 1994” issued in December (details to come) as a document of his extravagant on-stage nature, and, given how much the great sax-and-flute player has laid down over five decades fans should expect a plethora of further releases.

Surprisingly, Turner has never lost the ability to be surprised, telling me a few years ago about one of his then-fresh cuts, “I am very excited about it because it is a new departure for me, in a jazzy direction, which I find both exciting and stimulating”; to Nik, a follower of Sun Ra on the constant journey into the cosmic unknown, music served as an exciting trip that kept on giving – to him and to those who knew him.

This is how Arthur Brown summed up his departure today:
“Now you are gone
May your soaring sax
Fill the dark night
Of eternal sleep
With potent stars
Thankyou Nik
For your musical generosity”

Goodbye, Thunder Rider!

November 12, 2022

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