Daevid Allen 1938 - 2015
Daevid Allen (born Christopher David Allen, 13 January 1938 in Melbourne, Australia), sometimes credited as Divided Alien, an Australian poet, guitarist, singer, composer and performance artist is co-founder of psychedelic rock groups Soft Machine (in the UK, 1966) and Gong (in France, 1970).
In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered whilst working in a Melbourne bookshop, Allen travelled to Paris where he stayed at the Beat Hotel, moving into a room that had recently been vacated by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. While selling the International Herald Tribune around Le Chat qui Peche and the Latin Quarter, he met Terry Riley and also gained free access to the jazz clubs in the area. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed the free jazz outfit, the Daevid Allen Trio, and performed at Burroughs' theatre pieces based on the novel, The Ticket That Exploded.
Allen travelled to England, renting a room in Canterbury where he met his landlord's son, 16-year-old Robert Wyatt. Together, with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge, they formed the band Soft Machine, the name having come from the Burroughs novel The Soft Machine. Ayers and Wyatt had previously played in Wilde Flowers.
Following a tour of Europe, Allen was refused re-entry to the UK because he had overstayed his visa on a prior visit. He returned to Paris where he took part in the 1968 Paris protests which swept the city. He handed out teddy bears to the police and recited poetry in pidgin French. He now admits that he was scorned by the other protesters for being a beatnik.
Fleeing the police, he made his way to Deya, Majorca, with his partner Gilli Smyth. It was here that he recorded Magick Brother (released on BYG Actuel in 1969), the first album under the name Gong. They were joined by flautist Didier Malherbe, whom they claim to have found living in a cave on Robert Graves's estate.
In 1970 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon (sometimes spelled Bananamoon). The album he featured Robert Wyatt, amongst others.
In 1971 Gong released Camembert Electrique. They formed somewhat of an anarchist commune in rural France between 1972 and 1974. In 1972 they were joined by electronics musician Tim Blake and later, after signing with Virgin Records, Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen joined to record the Radio Gnome Trilogy which consisted of Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg and You.
David Allen, 1974
Allen left this incarnation of Gong and recorded three solo albums, Good Morning (1976) and Now Is The Happiest Time Of Your Life (1977) and N'existe pas! (1979).
During these years, Allen lived in a hippie collective in the village of Deià (Majorca) and contributed to the production of the Book of Am, the album of a band called Can Am Des Puig, by loaning them a four-track TEAC reel-to-reel tape recorder.
In 1977 he performed and recorded as Planet Gong, and rejoined the early-70s version of the group for a one-off show at the Hippodrome in Paris. Portions of this concert (which was several hours long) was released on a double-LP entitled Gong Est Mort? Vive Gong.
In 1980 Allen teamed up with Bill Laswell for the punk-influenced New York Gong. This effort yielded an LP called About Time. More projects followed, including Invisible Opera Company Of Tibet, Brainville, Ex (not to be confused with the Dutch punk band The Ex), and Magic Brothers.
In 1981 Allen returned to Australia, taking up residence in Byron Bay where he worked on performance pieces and poetry. He performed with performance artist David Tolley using tape loops and drum machines. He is currently involved with a project entitled you'N'gong (a play on the phrase "Young Gong") with his son, Orlando, and members of Acid Mothers Temple (the collaborations are performed under the name Acid Mothers Gong), as well as an improvisation outfit entitled Guru And Zero.
For many years now, Daevid Allen has been a member of the University of Errors, who have released four albums, and of the jazz rock band Brainville 3. He has also recorded with Spirits Burning, a space rock supergroup whose members include Alan Davey, Bridget Wishart, Karl E. H. Seigfried, and Simon House. Some of Daevid Allen's most experimental work has been with the long running noise band Big City Orchestra including live performances, and more than a half dozen CD releases.
In November 2006 a Gong Family Unconvention was held in Amsterdam, which included a reunion of many former Gong members from the "classic" early 70s lineup. Further Gong concerts were held in London in June 2008, featuring many of the same lineup, including Allen himself, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy, and Mike Howlett.
In November 2007, Daevid Allen held a series of concerts in Brazil, with a branch of Gong, which was called Daevid Allen and Gong Global Family (Daevid Allen on vocals and guitar, Josh Pollock on guitar, megaphone and percussion; Fred Barley on drums and percussion; Fabio Golfetti on guitar, bass Gabriel Costa, Marcelo Ringel on flute and tenor saxophone), along with his other band University of Errors (Daevid, Josh Pollock, Michael Clare, Fred Barley). The presentations took place in São Paulo on 21 and 22 November and San Carlos on November 24. These musicians—less Marcelo—recorded some new songs in the studio Mosh, in São Paulo. The São Paulo concert—21 November—was then released only in England as DVD and CD by Voiceprint Records.
It has been hinted that Allen may be creating a record label to realise new material.
Gong was formed in 1967, after Allen—then a member of Soft Machine—was denied entry to the United Kingdom because of a visa complication. Allen remained in France where he and a London-born Sorbonne professor, Gilli Smyth, established the first incarnation of the band. This line-up, including Ziska Baum on vocals and Loren Standlee on flute, fragmented during the 1968 student revolution, with Allen and Smyth forced to flee France for Deià in Majorca.
They allegedly found saxophonist Didier Malherbe living in a cave in Deià, before film director Jérôme Laperrousaz invited the band back to France to record the soundtrack of his movie Continental Circus. They were subsequently approached by Jean Karakos of the newly formed independent label BYG and signed a multi-album deal with them (Magick Brother/Mystic Sister, Camembert Electrique and Allen's solo album Bananamoon were all released on BYG).
Gong played at the second Glastonbury Festival in June 1971 (the performance being issued as a side-long track on the 3-LP vinyl festival record release, later re-mixed and re-edited and released by GAS in 2001), followed by a UK tour in Autumn. In late 1972 they were one of the first acts to sign to Virgin Records, getting first pick of the Manor Studio's time ahead of Mike Oldfield. By that time, a regular line-up had been established, and Gong released their Flying Teapot album in May 1973. The following year, Camembert Electrique was given a belated UK release, priced at 59p which was the price of a typical single, a promotional gimmick Virgin had done before in 1973 on an album by Faust, and would do again for a reggae compilation in 1976. These ultra-budget albums sold in large quantities because of the low price, but this pricing made them ineligible for placement on album charts. The intention was that purchasers would be encouraged to buy the groups' other albums at full price.
 Radio Gnome
Gilli Smyth & Daevid Allen, 1974
Steve Hillage, 1974
Between 1973 and 1974, Gong, now augmented by guitarist Steve Hillage, released their best-known work, the "Radio Gnome Trilogy", three records that expounded upon the (previously only hinted at) Gong mythology, Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg, and You. For about two months at the end of 1974, Bill Bruford played drums with Gong. At a gig in Cheltenham, in 1975, Allen refused to go on stage, claiming that a "wall of force" was preventing him, and left the band. With both Smyth, who wanted to spend more time with her two children, and synth player Tim Blake having jumped off in previous months, this marked the end of the 'classic' line-up. The band continued, touring the UK in November 1975 (as documented on the 2005 release Live in Sherwood Forest '75) and working on their next album Shamal with Jorge Pinchevsky on violin, but Hillage, who had been the band's de facto leader since Allen's exit, and his partner Miquette Giraudy, who had taken over from Smyth in late 1974, left before Shamal was released in early 1976. They re-joined the band briefly for a 1977 live reunion in Paris.
 Pierre Moerlen's Gong and other off-shoots
Drummer Pierre Moerlen, who had been persuaded by Virgin to rejoin Gong as a co-leader with Malherbe (after his spell with the French contemporary ensemble Les Percussions De Strasbourg) in 1975, gradually took over the band's leadership. When Malherbe, the only remaining founding member, finally left in 1977, Moerlen formed a new percussion-based line-up with American bassist Hansford Rowe and percussionists Mireille Bauer and Benoit Moerlen. To avoid confusion, it became known as Gong-Expresso, and from 1978 on, as Pierre Moerlen's Gong.
Allen, however, continued to develop the Gong mythology from the late seventies up until the nineties in his solo work, and with bands such as Euterpe, Planet Gong (which comprised Allen and Smyth playing with the British festival band Here & Now), and New York Gong (comprising Allen and the musicians who would later become known as Material), while Smyth formed a separate band with Jean-Paul Vivini: Mother Gong, playing in Spain and England. Allen delighted in this proliferation of groups and considered his role at this time to be that of an instigator, travelling around the world leaving active Gong-related bands in his wake.
 Reunions and Acid Mothers Gong
After spending most of the eighties in his native Australia, Allen returned to the UK in 1988 with a new project, the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet, whose revolving cast included the likes of Harry Williamson, violinist Graham Clark and Didier Malherbe. This morphed into GongMaison and by 1992, the name Gong was again in use, by which time early drummer Pip Pyle had also rejoined. The band released the album Shapeshifter (subsequently dubbed Radio Gnome part 4), followed by extensive touring. In 1994, Gong celebrated its 25th birthday in London, including a performance by most of the 'classic' line-up, including the returning Gilli Smyth and Mike Howlett. This formed the basic of the "Classic Gong" band which toured worldwide from 1996 to 2001 and released Zero to Infinity in 2000 (by Allen, Smyth, Howlett and Malherbe plus new recruits Theo Travis and Chris Taylor).
However, 2003 saw a radical new line-up called Acid Mothers Gong, including Acid Mothers Temple member Kawabata Makoto and University Of Errors guitarist Josh Pollock. Allen and Smyth's son Orlando Allen drummed on the album Acid Motherhood, but the drummer on most of the band's live dates was Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida.
The "Classic Gong" line-up retired from regular touring in 2001, but there were one-off reunions subsequently, most notably at the "Gong Family Unconvention" (Uncon), the first of which was held in 2004 in the Glastonbury Assembly rooms as a one day event. The 2005 Uncon was a 2-day affair featuring several Gong-related bands such as Here & Now, System 7, House of Thandoy and Kangaroo Moon. The most recent Uncon was a 3-day event held at the Melkweg in Amsterdam on 3-5 November 2006, with practically all Gong-related bands present: classic Gong (with Allen, Smyth, Malherbe, Hillage, Blake and Howlett, plus Miquette Giraudy, Chris Taylor and Theo Travis), System 7, Steve Hillage Band, Hadouk, Tim Blake & Jean-Philippe Rykiel, University of Errors, Here & Now, Mother Gong, Zorch, Eat Static, Acid Mothers Gong, Slack Baba, Kangaroo Moon and many others. These events have all been compèred by "Thom the Poet (now Thom Moon 10)".
In November 2007, Daevid Allen held a series of concerts in Brazil, with a branch of Gong, which was called Daevid Allen and Gong Global Family (Daevid Allen on vocals and guitar, Josh Pollock on guitar, megaphone and percussion; Fred Barley on drums and percussion; Fabio Golfetti on guitar, bass Gabriel Costa, Marcelo Ringel on flute and tenor saxophone), along with his other band University of Errors (Allen, Josh Pollock, Michael Clare, Fred Barley). The presentations took place in Sao Paulo on 21 and 22 November and San Carlos on November 24. These musicians - less Marcelo - recorded some new songs in the studio Mosh, in Sao Paulo. The Sao Paulo concert - 21 november - was then released only in England as DVD and CD by Voiceprint Records.
More recently in June 2008, Gong played two concerts in London: Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank (opening Massive Attack's Meltdown festival) and the Forum, with Allen, Smyth, Hillage, Giraudy, Howlett, Taylor and Travis among the lineup. This line-up then released new album 2032 in 2009 and toured in support. They played the Glade stage at Glastonbury Festival with Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy. Gong played at the Big Chill festival in the UK between on 9 August 2009 with Allen, Smyth, Hillage, Giraudy, Sturt, Taylor and Travis in the line up, at the Beautiful Days Festival in Devon, 23 August 2009, and at the Lounge on the Farm festival near Canterbury in the summer of 2009.
Gong played four UK live shows in September 2010 with Allen, Smyth, Hillage, Giraudy, Sturt, Taylor and Ian East: O2 ABC Glasgow (9th), Manchester Academy (10th), HMV Forum London (11th) and HMV Institute Birmingham (20th). Support for these shows was provided by Nik Turner's Space Ritual.