Nik Turner, '70s Rock Legend, Dead at 82

Nik Turner, a multi-instrumentalist and member of space rock pioneers Hawkwind, died at 82. Tuner died on Nov. 10 according to his family in an announcement on his Facebook page.

"We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nik Turner – The Mighty Thunder Rider, who passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening," the statement read. "He has moved onto the next phase of his Cosmic Journey, guided by the love of his family, friends, and fans. Watch this space for his arrangements."

Turner was born Nicholas Robert Turner on Aug. 26, 1940, in Oxford, England, notes Pitchfork. He was exposed to rock music as a teenager after his family moved to Kent. Following a brief stint in the Merchant Navy, he traveled around Europe and developed his interest in music. When he reached Berlin, he was exposed to free jazz and considered playing the genre. He also studied saxophone.

In the late 1960s, Turner worked as a roadie for Hawkwind, but they asked him to join the band after they learned he loved playing the saxophone. Turner was also a close friend of the group's leader, Dave Brock. The group's music made the best of Turner's skills with the saxophone and flute, and he even co-wrote several songs. Although he was kicked out of the band in 1976, he rejoined in 1982. Turner's time in the band overlapped with Motorhead member Ian "Lemmy" Kilmister's four-year tenure with Hawkwind.

After Turner left Hawkwind the first time, he took a trip to Egypt and was allowed to record his flute playing inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. This inspired him to put together another band, Sphynx. They released an album, Xtintoday, in 1978. Turner's other music outfits included Inner City Unit, Nik Turner's Fantastic All Stars, and Space Ritual.


"I have a very casual attitude to all this, to me it's entertainment," Turner told The Quietus in 2013 when considering his career. "But entertainment with an agenda, really. Of spreading joy and love... and that sort of thing. I mean I worry about being too overtly hippy... but peace and love are not fashionable sentiments in some quarters and I think they should be."