Daevid Allen - Biography

Biography

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.

In 1961, Allen travelled to England, renting a room in Lydden near Dover and 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 he did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed the free jazz outfit, the Daevid Allen Trio, 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 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 met the poet Robert Graves and had an epiphanic conversation concerning "The White Goddess." 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's estate.

In 1970 Allen recorded and released his first solo album, Banana Moon (sometimes spelled Bananamoon). The album 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.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 books '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 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 the United Kingdom as a DVD and a CD by Voiceprint Records.

It has been hinted that Allen may be creating a record label to release new material.

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