Nik Turner, co-founder and multi-instrumentalist of British space rock band Hawkwind, has died. A spokesman for the musician announced his death on Facebook today (November 11), noting that the memorials are still a work in progress. “We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Nik Turner – The Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening,” the statement read. “He has entered the next phase of his cosmic journey, guided by the love of his family, friends and fans.” He was 82 years old.
Nicholas Robert Turner was born on August 26, 1940 in Oxford. When Nik was 13 the Turner family moved to the town of Margate, Kent where he was first introduced to rock music. After a brief stint in the merchant marine, he set out to tour Europe, taking on menial jobs to fund his interest in music. Turner studied saxophone in his early twenties, but it wasn’t until his travels took him to Berlin that he ever considered performing free jazz. “[These free jazz musicians] convinced me that you don’t have to be technical to express yourself,” he told Mojo in 1999. “I decided I wanted to play free jazz in a rock band. Which is basically what I was trying to do in Hawkwind.”
Turner was an old friend of Dave Brock, and shortly after Brock teamed up with Mick Slattery, John Harrison and Terry Ollis to form Hawkwind, Turner offered to work as a roadie for the band, which he eventually joined. His flute and saxophonist skills led to his growing involvement with the band, where he co-wrote songs like “Brainstorm” and “Master of the Universe.” Kicked out of the band in 1976, Turner eventually rejoined the group in 1982 before leaving two years later. His time with Hawkwind notably overlapped that of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, who joined the band in 1971 before leaving four years later to form Motörhead.
After his initial departure from the group, Turner traveled to Egypt where he was inspired to record flute music in the Pyramids. The recordings became the basis for Sphynx, a new project with Alan Powell, Mike Howlett, Tim Blake and Harry Williamson. The group released their debut album Xitintoday in 1978. Turner recorded music under other names including Inner City Unit, Nik Turner’s Fantastic All Stars and Space Ritual, the latter of which released her second studio album Otherworld in 2007.
“I have a very easygoing attitude about all of this — to me it’s entertainment,” he told Quietus in 2013. “But entertainment with an agenda, really. Spreading joy and love and stuff like that. I mean, I worry about being too overtly hippie, but peace and love aren’t fashionable sentiments in some circles, and I think they should be.