Daevid Allen  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wiki Commons

Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Christopher David Allen (13 January 1938 – 13 March 2015), better known as Daevid Allen, sometimes credited as Divided Alien, was an Australian poet, guitarist, singer, composer and performance artist. He was co-founder of psychedelic rock groups Soft Machine (in the UK, 1966) and Gong (in France, 1970).



Early years

In 1960, inspired by the Beat Generation writers he had discovered while working in a Melbourne bookshop, 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.

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.

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 admitted 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 met the poet Robert Graves. Here also, 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' estate.


In 1970 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon (sometimes spelled Bananamoon). The album featured Robert Wyatt, among others.

In 1971 Gong released Camembert Electrique and between 1972 and 1974 formed somewhat of an anarchist commune in rural France. In 1972 they were joined by electronics musician Tim Blake. Later Steve Hillage and Pierre Moerlen also joined to record the Radio Gnome Trilogy which consisted of Flying Teapot, Angel's Egg and You. 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. The Flying Teapot Trilogy (Flying Teapot,Angels Egg and You) was influenced by Russell's teapot, an idea that is referred to by Allen in his book Gong Dreaming.

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 Deià and contributed to the production of The Book of Am, an album of 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, and rejoined the early-70s 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. A portion of this concert, which was several hours long, was released in 1977 on a double live album entitled Gong est Mort, Vive Gong.

1980s and 1990s

In 1980 Allen teamed up with Bill Laswell for the punk-influenced New York Gong. This effort yielded an album 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.

A second reunion Gong took place in London in 1994. The "classic" lineup toured between 1996 and 2001, releasing a new studio album, Zero to Infinitea in 2000. In 2006 a weekend festival at Melkweg in Amsterdam, featuring Gong and many associated was a sell-out and produced a DVD.

For many years Allen was a member of the University of Errors, who have released four albums, and of the jazz rock band Brainville 3. 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 noise band Big City Orchestra including live performances, and more than a half dozen CD releases.

Later years

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, less Marcelo, recorded some new songs in the 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, along with a studio version with Allen on vocals.

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".

On 13 March 2015, his son, Orlando Monday Allen, announced through Facebook that Daevid Allen had died. The Planet Gong website announced that Allen had died in Australia, at 1.05pm, "surrounded by his boys".

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.


Solo and collaborations

  • 1963: Live 1963 (Daevid Allen Trio)
  • 1980: Divided Alien Playbax (BMO Vol. 9, disk 2 released on CD in 2009)
  • 1980: Divided Alien Playbax (BMO Vol. 8, disk 1 released in 2009)
  • 198-: Self Initiation (BMO Vol. 3)
  • 1982: Ex/Don't Stop (with David Tolley)
  • 1981: Divided Alien Playbax 80
  • 1984: Radio Art 1984 (BMO Vol. 14)
  • 1988: Live Spring '88: The Return
  • 1989: The Owl and the Tree (Mother Gong)
  • 1990: Stroking the Tail of the Bird (with Gilli Smyth and Harry Williamson)
  • 1990: Australia Aquaria
  • 1990: Seven Drones (VoicePrint)
  • 1990: The Australian Years (VoicePrint)
  • 1990: Melbourne Studio Tapes (BMO Vol. 10, with Invisible Opera Company of Oz)
  • 1992: Who's Afraid (with Kramer)
  • 1992: Live at the Witchwood 1991 (Magick Brothers)
  • 1993: je ne fum' pas des bananes (Daevid Allen / Banana Moon / Gong)
  • 1993: 12 Selves
  • 1995: Hit Men (with Kramer)
  • 1995: Dreamin' a Dream
  • 1995: Bards of Byron Bay (BMO Vol. 4, with Russell Hibbs)
  • 1998: Eat Me Baby I'm a Jellybean
  • 1998: 22 Meanings (with Harry Williamson)
  • 1998: Live in Glastonbury Town (BMO Vol. 11, with Magick Brothers)
  • 1998: Solo @ The Axiom, Cheltenham '98 (BMO Vol. 15)
  • 1999: Live in the UK (BMO Vol. 2, with Brainville)
  • 1999: The Children's Crusade (Brainville)
  • 2001: Sacred Geometry (with Micro Cosmic)
  • 2001: Nectans Glen (with Russell Hibbs)
  • 2002: Beauty the Basket Case (BMO Vol. 17, with Guru and Zero)
  • 2002: "One Who Whispers" (with Cipher)
  • 2004: Makoto Mango (with Guru & Zero)
  • 2004: Live @ the Knit NYC (BMO Vol. 6, with Nicoletta Stephanz)
  • 2004: The Mystery Disque (BMO Vol. 7, with das)
  • 2004: Altered States of Alien KWISP (BMO Vol. 13, with Altered Walter Funk)
  • 2005: Sacred Geometry II (with Micro Cosmic)
  • 2005: I Am Your Egg (with Gilli Smyth & Orlando Allen; Voiceprint – VP376CD)
  • 2006: Glissando Grooves (BMO Vol. 12, SFO Soundtribe 3, with Don Falcone)
  • 2010: Live in Brazil (Gong Global Family, Voiceprint)
  • 2013: Tried So Hard (with The Invisible Opera Company of Tibet, UK)
  • 2014: Of Blue Splendour (Andy Bole, UK)

University of Errors

  • 1999: Money Doesn't Make It
  • 2000: e2x10=tenure
  • 2000: Live in Chicago (BMO Vol. 5)
  • 2001: Live at Schuba's 2001
  • 2002: Ugly Music For Monica
  • 2002: Go Forth and Errorize! Live in the USA
BMO (Bananamoon Obscure) is an official bootleg series
Also see Gong discography

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Daevid Allen" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools