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Hawkwind Bassist John Harrison Dies at 69

John Harrison
Hawkwind.com

John Harrison of the influential hard rock band Hawkwind passed away recently at the age of 69 after fighting a seven-year battle with Huntington’s disease. Harrison served as one of the pioneers of the “space rock” genre as the original bassist for Hawkwind.

Harrison helped found Hawkwind in 1969, but was only in the band until 1970. After the departure of Harrison, a revolving door of bassists, including Motorhead‘s Lemmy Kilmister, joined the group, which is still active today.

Although only in Hawkwind for a short time, Harrison showcased his talents on the band’s legendary self-titled LP, which was released in 1970. The album is renowned as being the very first “space rock” release. The album paved the way for bands such as Kyuss, Muse, the Flaming Lips and many more.

John Harrison passed away on May 26, just two days before his 70th birthday. Harrison’s sister Franny sent a detailed and heartfelt message to original and current Hawkwind member Dave Brock and his wife Kris Tait.

Hi Dave & Kris,

Sadly, John passed away on Saturday evening 26th May. He went peacefully, after a wonderful day.

I’ll just back track a week… John wanted to celebrate his forthcoming birthday by giving the staff at Garden Crest a lunch party. So food was brought in and everyone had a good time.

During that week he began to sleep a lot more than usual, and although his breathing was a bit more laboured, he was still speaking pretty good.
The great thing was he received all our family birthday cards, and was so thrilled to receive cards and letters from you lovely folk, and many Hawkwind fans (some too young to have seen John play) all saying such wonderful things. His best friend Linda was amazed by the content of the letters, as John had never really talked about this part of his life. She is going to send them over to me later on , So that me n sis n cousins can enjoy reading them.

John was also very happy to receive a package from me, containing photos I’d taken when i visited him last month, of his carers, and also some beach life at “Surf City USA” where I stayed. Also included were copies of illustrations I had just finished for a book a friend has written, (these had been giving me nightmares as they’d taken me so long to do). He thought they were brilliant (well he would – he’s my bruv ! ha ha).

So on Saturday 26th when Linda visited, she re-read his cards and letters with him, and also my package which he had been saving for her to show him,and to read all my attachments. He really enjoyed himself, deciding which things to add to his pinboard, or the wall.
He also spent his usual time in the garden, under the tree, shaded from the hot Californian sun, overlooking the wonderful views, eating ice cream.

In the evening, William was attending to John around 7:45pm. John thanked him for looking after him. William looked in on him again around 8pm and found he had passed away.

Linda returned to see him, and said his face was so peaceful, and showed no signs that he’d been distressed, which is a great relief to us all, as it was expected that his final time could be quite traumatic.

She also said that during the week Robyn, his lovely visitor from social services, had a nice talk with him, and Linda too had a conversation with him about what might happen. She said he was very “at peace” no longer afraid, and felt it would be just like going to sleep.

I think I mentioned that John had arranged that his body would go to UCLA medical centre. 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.

Once again many thanks Dave and Kris, Hawkwind, and Fans, for your kindness in sending messages, cards and letters to John. It played such a great part in giving him happiness and contentment in his final days.

When you update your website with the news about John , you may use any info from this e mail if you wish.
Meanwhile, Hope the tour has kicked off well, and you are all having a fantastic time with sell-out venues.

Love n Best wishes
Franny

In memory of John Harrison, we’ve posted the first track from Hawkwind’s debut album, ‘Hurry on Sundown.’ Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Harrison’s family and friends.
Listen to Hawkwind, ‘Hurry on Sundown’

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