Graham's look back on yesterday's funeral for guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton, held in Stalbridge, Dorset..
I first saw Huw play guitar with Hawkwind on the highly-rated 1979 tour. That was the tour that spawned the "Live Seventy Nine" album (believe it or not), and Huw's return to the band made a helluva difference to the band's sound. It was his guitaring on the 1980 "Levitation" album that prompts many Hawkwind fans to rate it as one of the best albums, if not the best, that Hawkwind have ever done.
It was a severely wet drive from North Devon, under dark skies on almost the shortest day of the year, for me to see his final appearance.
Some music was playing in the background as we took our seats in the pews. Being somewhat unused to churches, I was looking around at the fluted pillars and arches (built around 1390, by the way, when Richard II was on the throne) and generally taking stock, when I realised "Space Chase" (from the "Levitation" album) was playing! Strange hearing Hawkwind being played in a Church of England parish church - but then, Huw was a Christian.
[The above is a stock photo, as it was requested by the family that cameras were not used at the service.]
The service proper got off to a fairly conventional start.
There were some Scripture pieces and that one from Corinthians (13:4) that sounds like "The Black Corridor" narrative. (Love is patient, love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful...)
Then a tribute from Kris Tait (Kris Brock) and a performance of Huw's "Dragons & Fables" by Dead Fred (of Inner City Unit) and sung by Mr Dibs
Tributes by Andrew Briggs and Huw's daughter Kirsty followed. Where I was sitting, I had difficulty hearing - it's quite a big church for such a small town - but I remember Kirsty's reminisce included a mysterious reference to a gobstopper (known as a jawbreaker in the US). We then listened to "Amazing Grace".
Dave Brock then gave a tribute, sounding just like he does on-stage or on radio interviews: laid-back and comfortably cheerful. It was kind of weird hearing that oft-heard voice in such an unaccustomed setting.
He then said he was going to sing "Hurry on Sundown" and invited us all to sing too. As a song inside a church it works very well, of course. Huw didn't write it, but he often performed it onstage. The last time he did so was at Sidmouth Folk Festival a few months ago, alongside Dave Brock.
Some prayers followed. I was amused to find I didn't need to refer to the Order of Service for the words to "The Lord's Prayer," whereas for "Hurry on Sundown" I did have to glance down at it a few times, for my line cues. (A bit embarassing, as I was one of those wearing a Hawkwind t-shirt, and should know the words to a Hawkwind song that's been around for 44 years!)
Then Dead Fred played keyboard piano for "When the Saints Go Marching In" and it was a very jaunty version... we were all singing it and over half clapped along as well. Soundwise, it was kind of like those evangelical events seen in parts of America, and at the end there was a general cheer and applause.
And, after that high point, it was time for the Rev. William Ridding to conduct the commendation and committal... and then the coffin, topped with a wreath in the shape of a guitar, was conveyed out of the church for cremation.
The above vid is Huw's appearance with Dave back in August, doing "Hurry on Sundown".