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Simon King

Early days

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, etc."

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 Hawkwind.

Simon's work with Opal Butterfly is featured here in their own mini-site.

Mainstream Hawkwind

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 musical influences:

  • 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 experienced before."
  • 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 brilliant."

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/analog style, I guess).

Very rare are versions of much of the Levitation album with Simon on drums, to see 'what might have been' (good or bad!) 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, 3105k).

Other projects

During the 1970s, Simon also drummed on:

Winding down

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? Probably retired now? Anyone know?) and resists all music-related contact. The snap below was posted on Facebook in an image on which he was tagged (Simon is second-left, obviously). The date is unknown, but certainly from 2015 onwards...

Simon in current