Daevid Allen

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Daevid Allen


Allen performing with Gong
at The Zappa Club in Tel Aviv, 2009
Background information
Birth name Christopher David Allen
Also known as Divided Alien, Bert Camembert, Dingo Virgin, Ja Am
Born(1938-01-13)13 January 1938
Melbourne, Australia
Died 13 March 2015(2015-03-13) (aged 77)
Genres Psychedelic rock, space rock, jazz rock, psychedelic folk, performance poetry
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1960–2015
Associated acts Gong, Soft Machine
Website http://www.daevidallen.net

Christopher David Allen (13 January 1938 – 13 March 2015), known as Daevid Allen, sometimes credited as Divided Alien, was an Australian poet, guitarist, singer, composer and performance artist. He was co-founder of the psychedelic rock groups Soft Machine (in the UK, 1966) and Gong (in France, 1967). [1] [2] [3]

Psychedelic rock style of rock music

Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.

Soft Machine English rock band

Soft Machine are an English rock and jazz band from Canterbury formed in mid-1966, named after the novel The Soft Machine by William S. Burroughs. They were one of the central bands in the Canterbury scene. Though they achieved little commercial success, they are considered by critics to have been influential in rock music, Dave Lynch at AllMusic called them "one of the more influential bands of their era, and certainly one of the most influential underground ones."

Gong (band) Franco-British progressive/psychedelic rock band

Gong are an international progressive rock band that incorporates elements of jazz and space rock into their musical style. The group was formed in Paris in 1967 by Australian musician Daevid Allen and English vocalist Gilli Smyth. Band members have included Didier Malherbe, Pip Pyle, Steve Hillage, Mike Howlett, Pierre Moerlen, Bill Laswell and Theo Travis. Others who have played on stage with Gong include Don Cherry, Chris Cutler, Bill Bruford, Brian Davison, Dave Stewart and Tatsuya Yoshida.



Early years

In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered while working in a Melbourne bookshop [4] , Allen travelled to Paris, where he stayed at the Beat Hotel, moving into a room recently vacated by Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky. While selling the International Herald Tribune around Le Chat Qui Pêche and the Latin Quarter, he met Terry Riley and also gained free access to the jazz clubs in the area. [5]

The Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. The bulk of their work was published and popularized throughout the 1950s. The central elements of Beat culture are the rejection of standard narrative values, making a spiritual quest, the exploration of American and Eastern religions, the rejection of materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

In 1961 Allen travelled to England and rented a room at Lydden, near Dover, where he soon began to look for work as a musician. He first replied to a newspaper advertisement for a guitar player to join Dover-based group the Rolling Stones (no connection with the later famous band of that name) who had lost singer/guitarist Neil Landon, but did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed free jazz outfit the Daevid Allen Trio ('Daevid' having been adopted as an affectation of David), which included his landlord's son, 16-year-old Robert Wyatt. They performed at Burroughs' theatre pieces based on the novel The Ticket That Exploded . In 1966, 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. [5]

Lydden village in the United Kingdom

Lydden is also the name of a hamlet in the Manston, Kent civil parish

Dover town and major ferry port in Kent, South East England

Dover is a major ferry port in Kent, South East England. It faces France across the Strait of Dover, the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury and east of Maidstone. The town is the administrative centre of the Dover District and home of the Dover Calais ferry through the Port of Dover. The surrounding chalk cliffs are known as the White Cliffs of Dover.

Neil Landon English singer-songwriter

Neil Landon is an English singer, who has been credited with singing on a number of hits in the UK Singles Chart. In addition, he was a singer and songwriter with the band Fat Mattress, which he co-founded with guitarist/singer Noel Redding.

Following a tour of Europe in August 1967, Allen was refused re-entry to the UK because he had overstayed his visa on a prior visit. He returned to Paris where he formed Gong along with his partner Gilli Smyth. They also formed the Bananamoon Band. Both projects were cut short as the two took part in the 1968 Paris protests which swept the city, handing out teddy bears to the police and reciting poetry in pidgin French. Allen admitted that he was scorned by the other protesters for being a beatnik. Fleeing the police, they made their way to Deià, Mallorca, where they had lived for a time in 1966 and had met the poet Robert Graves, a friend of Robert Wyatt's family.

Gilli Smyth British singer and poet

Gillian Mary Smyth was an English musician who performed with the bands Gong, Mother Gong, and Planet Gong and released several solo albums and albums in collaboration with other members of Gong. In Gong, she often performed under the name Shakti Yoni, contributing poems and "space whispers".

Teddy bear soft toy in the form of a bear

A teddy bear is a soft toy in the form of a bear. Developed apparently simultaneously by toymakers Morris Michtom in the U.S. and Richard Steiff in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, and named after President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt, the teddy bear became an iconic children's toy, celebrated in story, song, and film. Since the creation of the first teddy bears which sought to imitate the form of real bear cubs, "teddies" have greatly varied in form, style, color, and material. They have become collector's items, with older and rarer "teddies" appearing at public auctions. Teddy bears are among the most popular gifts for children and are often given to adults to signify love, congratulations, or sympathy.

A pidgin, or pidgin language, is a grammatically simplified means of communication that develops between two or more groups that do not have a language in common: typically, its vocabulary and grammar are limited and often drawn from several languages. It is most commonly employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside. Fundamentally, a pidgin is a simplified means of linguistic communication, as it is constructed impromptu, or by convention, between individuals or groups of people. A pidgin is not the native language of any speech community, but is instead learned as a second language.

Returning to Paris in August 1969, they were offered the chance to make an album by the BYG Actuel label and so formed a new Gong band and recorded Magick Brother , released in March 1970. [5]

BYG Actuel was a French record label specializing in free jazz. The label also released a small number of non-jazz recordings by artists such as Musica Elettronica Viva, Freedom, and Gong.

<i>Magick Brother</i> 1970 studio album by Gong

Magick Brother is the debut studio album by the progressive rock band Gong, recorded in Paris during September and October 1969 and released in March 1970 on the French BYG Actuel label.


In 1971 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon (sometimes spelled Bananamoon) for BYG Actuel. It did not feature his original 1968 Bananamoon Band rhythm section, but did feature Robert Wyatt, Gilli Smyth, Gary Wright, Pip Pyle, Maggie Bell and many others. Later that year, Gong released their second studio album, Camembert Electrique .

<i>Banana Moon</i> 1971 studio album by Daevid Allen

Banana Moon is the debut solo album by Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist and Gong leader Daevid Allen, released in July 1971 on the French BYG Actuel label. The album is sometimes referred to as Bananamoon and it was also reissued as a Gong album.

Gary Wright singer

Gary Malcolm Wright is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and composer best known for his 1976 hit songs "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive", and for his role in helping establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music. Wright's breakthrough album, The Dream Weaver (1975), came after he had spent seven years in London as, alternately, a member of the British heavy rock band Spooky Tooth and a solo artist on A&M Records. While in England, he played keyboards on former Beatle George Harrison's triple album All Things Must Pass (1970), so beginning a friendship that inspired the Indian religious themes and spirituality inherent in Wright's subsequent songwriting. His work since the late 1980s has embraced world music and the new age genre, although none of his post-1976 releases has matched the popularity of The Dream Weaver.

Phillip "Pip" Pyle was an English-born drummer from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, who later resided in France. He is best known for his work in the progressive rock Canterbury scene bands Gong, Hatfield and the North and National Health.

In October, Allen, Smyth and the rest of Gong moved into an abandoned 12-room hunting lodge called Pavilion du Hay, near Voisines and Sens, 120 km south-east Paris. They would be based there until early 1974. [6] In late 1972 they were joined by electronic musician Tim Blake. Later Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen also joined to record the Radio Gnome Invisible" trilogy which consisted of Flying Teapot , Angel's Egg and You . [5] The band signed with Virgin Records in 1973 after BYG Records went bankrupt during recording of Flying Teapot at Richard Branson's Manor Studio. Gong was Branson's second Virgin release after Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells . According to Allen, in his book Gong Dreaming 2, the idea of the flying teapot was influenced by Russell's teapot.

Allen performing in Hyde Park, London, 1974 DaevidAllen1974.jpg
Allen performing in Hyde Park, London, 1974

Allen left Gong in April 1975 and went on to record three more solo albums, Good Morning (1976), Now Is the Happiest Time of Your Life (1977) and N'existe pas! (1979). During these years, he lived in a hippie collective in Deià and contributed to the production of The Book of Am, an album by the band Can am des puig, loaning them a four-track TEAC reel-to-reel tape recorder.

In late May 1977, Allen performed and recorded as Planet Gong, then reformed the "Radio Gnome Trilogy" version of the group for a one-off show at the Hippodrome, Paris, France. The show, the first Gong Reunion, featured Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers in their first live appearance as part of Mike Howlett's band Strontium 90, before Summers joined both Copeland and Sting in The Police. An edited version of the Gong concert was released later in 1977 as the double live album Gong est Mort, Vive Gong .

In 1978 Allen moved to New York at the invitation of his old producer Giorgio Gomelsky, and was teamed up with the nascent Material to form the punk-influenced New York Gong. They toured the U.S. in the Spring of 1979, playing the classic Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, and later recorded the studio album About Time .

1980s and 1990s

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 as Ex (not to be confused with the Dutch punk band The Ex), using tape loops and drum machines.

In 1989 he formed a new Gong band, Gongmaison, which toured and recorded a self-titled album. Reverting to the name Gong, they released Shapeshifter in 1992, which continued the classic Gong mythology of Zero the Hero.

A second Gong Reunion event took place in London in 1994 and the "classic" lineup toured between 1996 and 2001, releasing a new studio album, Zero to Infinity in 2000.

In 1998 Allen co-founded the San Francisco-based psychedelic rock band University of Errors and the U.K. based jazz rock band Brainville 3 , going on to record several studio and live albums with each. He 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 was with the long running Los Angeles noise band Big City Orchestra, including live performances and more than a half dozen CD releases.

Other projects around this time included the Invisible Opera Company of Tibet and the Magick Brothers. [5]


Allen performing with Gong at Zafferana, Sicily, 2009 Daevid Allen con i Gong in concerto (Zafferana - Sicilia) 31luglio09.JPG
Allen performing with Gong at Zafferana, Sicily, 2009

A project with his son, Orlando, and members of Acid Mothers Temple led to Acid Mothers Gong and the 2004 album Acid Motherhood, as well as an improvisation outfit entitled Guru And Zero.

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 line-up. Further Gong concerts were held in London in June 2008, featuring many of the same line-up, including Allen himself, Gilli Smyth, Steve Hillage, Miquette Giraudy, and Mike Howlett.

In November 2007, Allen held a series of concerts in Brazil, with a branch of Gong, which was called Daevid Allen and Gong Global Family (Allen on vocals and guitar, Josh Pollock on guitar, megaphone and percussion; Fred Barley on drums and percussion, Fabio Golfetti on guitar, Gabriel Costa on bass, Marcelo Ringel on flute and tenor saxophone), along with his other band University of Errors (Allen, Pollock, Michael Clare and Barley). The concerts took place in São Paulo on 21 and 22 November and São Carlos on 24 November. These musicians, minus Marcelo, recorded some new songs at studio Mosh, in São Paulo. The São Paulo concert of 21 November was then released only as a DVD (UK only) and as a CD by Voiceprint Records.

The 2009 album 2032 featured the band's drummer since 1999, Chris Taylor, formerly of Roachford and Soul II Soul. Allen's son Orlando replaced Taylor in 2012.

In 2013, in Devon, England, Allen performed solo material and poetry at an event entitled "Up Close with Daevid Allen". He also joined The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet (UK) on stage to perform songs, including the Gong song "Tried So Hard" – a live recording of which appeared on the band's single, [7] along with a studio version with Allen on vocals.

His final studio album with Gong, I See You , produced by his son Orlando, was released in November 2014.

The same year, he worked on Book Of Intxixu, the second Can am des puig album, and New Start by Belgian musician Will Z., a tribute album to Deià musicians, the first posthumous album of Daevid Allen and Carmeta Mansilla, singer of Can am des puig.

Illness and death

On 12 June 2014, Allen underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his neck. It was determined to be cancerous and he subsequently underwent radiation therapy. In a statement, released on 5 February 2015, Allen wrote that the cancer had returned to his neck and also spread to his lungs, and that he was "not interested in endless surgical operations". He was "given approximately six months to live". [8] [9]

On 13 March 2015, his son, Orlando Monday Allen, announced through Facebook that Daevid Allen had died. [10] The Planet Gong website announced that Allen had died in Australia, at 1.05pm, "surrounded by his boys". [11] Allen had four sons, two with Gilli Smyth and two with other mothers.

Reviewing Allen's life, The Daily Telegraph said:

Allen revelled in being the court jester of hippie rock and never lost his enthusiasm for the transcendent power of the psychedelic experience. He once remarked: "Psychedelia for me is a code for that profound spiritual experience where there is a direct link to the gods." That he never attained the riches and fame of many of his contemporaries did not concern him. [5]


With Gong

See the Gong discography

Solo & with others




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  1. McFarlane, 1999, "'Daevid Allen' entry". Archived from the original on 3 August 2004. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. "Domain Names Australia". Whiteroom.com.au. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  3. Allen, Daevid. Gong Dreaming 1 (SAF Publishing) ISBN   0-946719-82-9
  4. "Austlit Biography".
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Daevid Allen, prog-rock innovator - obituary". Telegraph. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  6. Allen, Daevid. Gong Dreaming 2. SAF Publishing, 2009, pgs.52, 67, 291.
  7. "Planet Gong Bazaar: Vinyl: The Invisible Opera Co. of Tibet with daevid allen: Tried So Hard". Planetgong.co.uk. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  8. "Gong founder Daevid Allen has six months to live". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  9. "Current News". Planetgong.co.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  10. "Gong founder Daevid Allen has died, aged 77". The Guardian . Theguardian.com. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  11. "Current News". Planet Gong. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  12. "Gilli Smyth, Daevid Allen & Orlando Allen – I Am Your Egg". www.discogs.com. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  13. "Gilli Smyth, Daevid and Orlando Allen - I Am Your Egg". www.planetgong.co.uk. Retrieved 18 March 2015.