Daevid Allen

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Daevid Allen
Daevid Allen, 2009
Background information
Also known as Divided Alien, Bert Camembert, Dingo Virgin, Ja Am
Born (1938-01-13) 13 January 1938 (age 77)
Melbourne, Australia
Genres Progressive rock, Psychedelic rock
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1960–present
Associated acts Gong, Soft Machine, Kevin Ayers
Website universityoferrors.com

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).[1][2]


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 that had recently been 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, 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)[1] 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 ('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 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. 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, among 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 book "Gong Dreaming".

Daevid Allen, Hyde Park, London 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. A portion 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, 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 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, 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 24 November. 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.

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

On 12 June 2014 Daevid Allen underwent surgery to remove a cyst from his neck. It was determined to be cancerous and Daevid 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".[3][4]


Solo and collaborations[edit]

  • 1963: Live 1963 (Daevid Allen Trio)
  • 1971: Banana Moon
  • 1973: Gong on Acid 73 (BMO Vol. 16, with Gong)
  • 1976: Good Morning (with Euterpe)
  • 1977: Now Is the Happiest Time of Your Life
  • 1977: Studio Rehearsal Tapes 1977 (BMO Vol. 1, with Euterpe, released on CD in 2008)
  • 1978: Mother (Gilli Smyth; Allen guests on a few tracks and produced the album)
  • 1979: N'existe pas!
  • 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)
  • 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[edit]

  • 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



  1. ^ Mc Farlane, 1999, 'Daevid Allen' entry at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 August 2004).
  2. ^ Spencer et al, (2007) ALLEN, Daevid entry. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  3. ^ Guardian music. "Gong founder Daevid Allen has six months to live". the Guardian. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "planet gong news :  : Current News". planetgong.co.uk. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Who's who of Australian rock / compiled by Chris Spencer, Zbig Nowara & Paul McHenry". catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 29 January 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Daevid Allen at Wikimedia Commons