Take a trip with Hawkwind – but this time you won't have to get high
Ageing rockers to take fans wine-tasting and on gentle countryside walks
What is a band of wizened prog-rockers to do – short of yet-another gruelling "comeback tour" around the world – to boost the coffers as traditional revenue streams trickle away?
The veteran psychedelic collective Hawkwind, formed in 1969 as one of the earliest "space rock" groups, have taken an imaginative approach to developing their fanbase and keeping the band alive in the minds of younger enthusiasts.
Their wheeze: Hawkwind Holidays, a vacationing service allowing fans to accompany their musical heroes to idyllic locations around Europe, from leisurely cruises along Scandinavian fjords to jaunts through the heart of French wine-making country.
Devotees will be able to spend time lounging on the beach, relaxing on the deck of a Norwegian leisure boat, or gargling a vintage Bordeaux and sharing a spitoon with the men who pioneered such 1970s masterpieces as "Silver Machine" and "Urban Guerrilla" (the latter was banned by the BBC in the wake of a wave of IRA bombings).
There will also be performances by Hawkwind and guitar workshops. The band's former bassist Lemmy, later of Motörhead fame, is not signed up at present. The entrepreneurial idea emerges as traditional incomes from the music industry dry up, particularly since the advent of music downloading.
Hawkwind Holidays has already dipped its toe in the warm waters of the Mediterranean by asking fans to submit their preferences through an online survey. So far, the most popular preferences appear to be a week-long camping stay at France's Grand Dune du Pilat, a five-day stint at a convent in Bordeaux, and a cruise along a fjord to catch a view of the aurora borealis.
Holidays will be offered up to four times a year with a range of accommodation to suit the pockets of their fans: budget camping trips in a tent can be upgraded to a log cabin for wealthier devotees.
Dave Brock, the band's front-man, said: "It's a bit like a Carry On film, like Carry On Hawkwind."
Kris Tait, the band's manager, explained: "Dave and I were on a cruise down the Nile and there were only 17 rooms – we had nothing in common with the other travellers and thought it would be great to be on a holiday like this surrounded by like-minded people."
He added: "We've had this ever-growing fanbase over the years who have brought their children up with the band, and in some cases their grandchildren. A lot of people have got married after meeting at their shows and so it is just like a big family community." Hawkwind continue to perform on the festival circuit despite innumerable line-up changes and retain a loyal following.
Musicians have adopted a number of different approaches to satisfying their fans in recent years as the sales landscape has changed.
Some bands, such as Marillion, have asked fans to finance their albums, while the cult act John Otway once planned to charter a plane and take all his fans on his world tour, although the idea never came to fruition.
How not to do it .. Fans stayed at home
*The singer-songwriter John Otway's most memorable hit was his 1977 number 27 "Cor Baby That's Really Free", but his cult audience has since become a byword for loyalty. In 2006, facing the prospect of empty venues on a planned eight-stop world tour, Otway hired a jet and set about rounding up 300 British fans to accompany him. The odyssey aboard "Ot-Air" was intended to last two weeks and cost £4,000 – or £7,000 in business class. Sadly only 150 signed up, so the trip was cancelled.
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