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Daevid Allen (1938-2015)

March 13, 2015

DaevidAllenLike many, I expect, I was saddened to wake up today to the news of the passing of the Australian-born poet/musician/artist Daevid Allen at the age of 77.

For anyone of a certain age (and probably a good few of an uncertain age!) the name of Daevid Allen will more than likely be synonymous with Gong, the prog rock band he co-founded with his partner Gilli Smyth, a band which seemed to play anywhere and everywhere: if you ever went to a festival in the early/mid-1970s, there’s a good chance that Gong were on the bill, bringing happiness, hippie dancing and flying teapots to every pothead pixie in the vicinity.

His legacy encompasses much more than just the one band, though: prior to Gong, he’d co-founded Soft Machine and after leaving Gong he went on to a long and fruitful solo career. While his work maybe never brought him widespread commercial success and infamy – and it has to be said that these were probably the last thing he sought in life – it did reach a surprising number of people over the years.

In 1981 he returned to Australia, working on performance pieces, poetry and various musical collaborations. Last year, he was found to be suffering from cancer and in February of this year posted a message to the Planet Gong website in which he announced that, having been given approximately six months to live and being uninterested in “endless surgical operations”, asking his family, friends and fans to “start the process of letting go of me, of mourning then transforming and celebrating this death coming up”. And what better celebration than to dig out Gong’s legendary Camembert Electrique album and ride the wave from Zero to Infinity one more time.

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