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The Greasy Trucker project was for a short time, something of a cultural vortex around which Britain’s, or more accurately London’s counterculture, such as it was, orbited. It was a loose, somewhat anarchic gathering of heads and hairies inspired by The Diggers, Wavy Gravy’s San Franciscan mob. They would do fundraisers - usually involving Hawkwind - for good causes. Their idea of good causes largely revolved around counterculture lifestyles, dope and off-grid living.
They hired the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London which was once home to a giant wheel on which trains rotated, hence the shape. It had been derelict post-war until gigs were put on there from the late 60s onwards. The Truckers booked hairy stoner faves Man and Hawkwind along with Brinsely Schwartz, recorded them and put out an album to raise money for a Notting Hill hostel. At the time Notting Hill was home of the hippie and the squatter. That it would turn into rows of multi-million pound houses, as it has today, was unthinkable.
It was a 20,000 limited edition and sold at a budget price. They repeated this trick two years later recording another gig this time at Dingwalls featuring Camel, Global Village Trucking Company, Henry Cow and, of course, Gong, though actually much of the music was recorded elsewhere again due to “hassles, man.”
The first gig was subject to power cuts and general pressure from the Man and his minions. A folk group called Skinner’s Rats turned up to play an impromptu set to entertain people, as they end to do, after the Fire Brigade had tried to throw out the freaks in the afternoon when there was no power. When everyone was back in, Hawkwind’s sensitive synths went all wonky, broke down and had to be fixed, no doubt by a man with a beard and some gaffer tape. But even so, no-one really minded. These events were about the event, about being there, about being part of something.
A chap called Magic Michael is also on the record, he was described by NME writer Nick Kent as “Ladbroke Grove’s answer to Wildman Fischer,” and performs, a made-up on the spot poetry-cum-rant called Music Belongs to the People in which details his revolutionary plans for creating a new Jerusalem of peace, love, long hair and beads (why beads?), via the simple power of communal singing. As you do. I'm guessing drugs were involved. All very early 70s. Incidentally you can see Magic Michael on the 1971 Glastonbury Fayre movie dancing on stage, naked from the waist down much to the chagrin on the crowd who had not turned up to see this fella’s downstairs department waving about in front of them.
It all went down in rock and hippie folklore and like all good myths became bigger and more significant in the retelling. The two double albums they left us with are rather good. Man play Spunk Rock for 22 minutes, of course they do, and Hawkwind crank out a long and intense Masters of the Universe. It is quite collectible now and hard to get in a clean condition not least because a thousand joints have probably been rolled on every copy!