Born in Oxford around 1952, Simon quotes his earliest
influences in drumming as "some of the jazz greats that I heard a lot of. I
always really wanted to play jazz but never got around to it. Early rock
influences were the same as everyone else's: Elvis, Chuck Berry, The Beatles,
Simon started playing at 15 in various local bands, mainly
in Berkshire, teaching himself as he went along. The earliest recordings I have
of Simon are with Opal Butterfly in the late
1960s. This band, of course, also featured Lemmy for a while and it was his
acquaintance with Simon that eventually got him the job with
Simon's work with Opal Butterfly is featured here in their
Four years later and Hawkwind are having problems with
Terry Ollis being so stoned that he "kept falling off his drumstool". Lemmy
happens to catch Simon King getting out of a taxi in London and offers to
introduce him to the band, as a "proper drummer".
The next eight years are the stuff of legend, with some
immensely powerful material coming out of the
Hawkwind stable. See my links page for more details on
Hawkwind's albums and career. Here's a video clip of
Simon in action (1200k) in 1972.
Hear Simon talk about the Hawkwind audience as part of a
1980 interview (168k).
Chosen by Simon in 1973, here are a few of his main
- Beatles: "Strawberry Fields" - "a changing
point all round."
- "Velvet Underground and Nico" - "I just liked
their basic simplicity.... It had an overall effect on me that I'd never
- Jimi Hendrix - "Hey Joe" - "This was the
single that made me want to play rock and roll professionally... Somehow this
record appeared out of nowhere and it got me into rock and roll in the form of
three-piece bands... When I first heard this single it blew my head off. It was
just rough and raw and gutsy."
- Who - "Who's Next" - "I was impressed by this
album because of what the Who left out - what they didn't do. It's somehow
empty, despite Townsend's huge chords. Also, I think Keith Moon's drumming is
Latter days in Hawkwind
Although Hawkwind personnel have always been notoriously
fluid, often changing crew from night to night on tour as different people
guest and come and go, Simon finally left Hawkwind during 1980 in the course of
the recording sessions for the Levitation album down at Chalk Farm, Devon.
Hawkwind were experimenting with digital recording and electronic click tracks
and Simon apparently had difficulty working this way (preferring his own more
fluid style, I guess).
Very rare are versions of much of the Levitation album
with Simon on drums, to see 'what might have been'. Have a listen to
Who's gonna win the war? (studio 1979,
3159k)(1980), Motorway City (excerpt, studio,
1980, 1359k), World of Tiers (excerpt, live,
1980, 114k), Dust of Time (excerpt, live, 1980,
772k) and Levitation (excerpt, live, 1979,
During the 1970s, Simon also drummed on:
- Robert Calvert's solo album "Captain Lockheed
and the Starfighters", now long since deleted.
- Michael Moorcock and the Deep Fix - "New
World's Fair". This was reissued a while back on CD and you may be able to find
a copy if you try hard enough. Featured song fragments here include
Song for Marlene (excerpt, 1990k),
In the name of rock and roll (excerpt,
1360k) and Ferris Wheel (excerpt, 1049k)
- Steve Swindells - "Fresh blood" (1980), along
with Huw Lloyd Langton (of HW) and Nic Potter, the trio (tentatively named 'Jawa') being highly
thought of by Simon himself as "the most interesting thing" he'd done outside
of Hawkwind at the time. This album has also been long since deleted. Featured
songs here include:
Turn it on, turn it off
I feel alive (excerpt,
Low life Joe (excerpt, 617k)
Is it over now? (excerpt, 366k)
Figures of Authority (excerpt, 2418k)
Shot down in the night (excerpt,
- plus other albums as a session musician, including
various tracks (Excerpt 1, 360k, Excerpt 2, 1200k) on 'Here Come the Warm Jets' by Brian
Eno, and Phil Manzanera.
After 1980, Simon turned down the drummer's stool in both
Inner City Unit and Nico, teaming up with Simon House (also ex-HW) for a while
in a London band called Turbo, though this never made it past the rehearsal
stage. Although Simon rehearsed for a while with Hawkwind in 1982, he decided
he'd finally had enough.
These days, Simon works in rubbish recycling (in
Hounslow?) and resists all music-related contact.