The Astounding Story Behind Barney Bubbles’ Hawkwind Galactic Tarot Cards

In November 1971, design legend Barney Bubbles produced a typically audacious promotional item for Hawkwind’s recently released album X In Search Of Space

Across the centre spread in an issue of underground paper IT, Bubbles worked with Hawkwind lyricist/vocalist Robert Calvert to create a cut-out-and-keep tarot card pack using titles and lyrics from In Search Of Space tracks. The pack of cards was also thematically linked to the 24-page Hawkwind Log booklet the pair produced for ISOS, and there are references to newer songs including Silver Machine, which would provide the west London space-rock collective with their breakthrough hit the following summer.

Such playful methods of engagement were hallmarks of Bubbles’ work, particularly in this period.

For example, Bubbles’ design for the debut album by Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers a few months later featured a colour-yourself sunset and a cut-out bowtie insert. There were also inserts incorporating a self-assembly paper geometric dome and a silver laminate pyramid in spring 1972’s Glastonbury Fayre triple-LP package.

Around that time, Bubbles used a Hawkwind feature for another underground paper, Frendz, to create a series of layouts with photographer Pennie Smith which comprised the cut-out panels of a kite. Much later, of course, he instituted such exercises as the build-your-own-poster music press advertising for Elvis Costello’s 1977 LP My Aim Is True.