Original Hawkwind Bassist John Harrison Dead at 69
John Harrison, an original founder of ’70s space rock band Hawkwind has died, two days before his 70th birthday. His death was first reported on the band’s website. He’d been suffering from Huntington’s Disease and is said to have died peacefully.
“John was an integral part of Hawkwind’s formation and eventual success,” longtime guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langston said in a statement (via Bravewords.com). “His honest, solid character and playing held the whole thing together in that first year of the group’s existence.” Harrison only remained in the band for one album, the British band’s 1970, self-titled debut.
While Hawkwind was never a huge commercially successful, they are remembered as pioneers who led the British underground for a decade. They are cited as an influence on Al Jourgensen of Ministry, the Sex Pistols and Motorhead. Lemmy Kilmister played bass in Hawkwind for four years before starting his more well-known band in 1975.
According to a letter Harrison’s sister Franny at Hawkwind.com, the bassist died after a weekend party to celebrate his 70th birthday. He was resting, and died around 8PM. “His face was so peaceful, and showed no signs that he’d been distressed,” he letter reads, “which is a great relief to us all, as it was expected that his final time could be quite traumatic.”
His body was donated to UCLA medical center. “They were notified straight away, and a very nice white vehicle collected him. Several carers and staff watched him leave, and said their goodbyes to ‘Mr. John.’ He was treated with great respect and dignity.”
In April, Hawkwind released their 25th studio album, entitled ‘Onward.’ Dave Brock is the only original member left in the band.