Daevid Allen, co-founder of sike group, the Soft Machine, and, later the founder of progressive heavies Gong, has died. I knew it was coming, but I didn't know it would happen so quickly. He'd announced, just a few weeks ago, he'd been given six months to live, as a cancer, for which he was treated last year, had returned and had spread into his lungs. However, he chose not to undergo more medical treatment saying, “I am not interested in endless surgical operations and in fact it has come as a relief to know that the end is in sight. I am a great believer in ‘The Will of the Way Things Are’ and I also believe that the time has come to stop resisting and denying and to surrender to the way it is." So be it, Mr. Allen, I can only hope you're finally occupying the planes for which you wrote your hymns.
Allen was born in Australia and moved to France in the early '60s with a notion to become a beat poet. His musical hopes flowered only after he moved to England, where he met William S. Burroughs and heard Sun Ra. It was then he formed a free-jazz group, the Daevid Allen Trio. In 1966, with Trio member, Robert Wyatt, and some other local players, Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge, the Soft Machine was formed. The group became one of the house bands at the UFO Club and recorded a couple genius, forward-looking psychedelic albums. The Softs were on their way when Allen was forced to quit the band after he was denied re-entry to the UK at the end of a European tour. Stuck in France, he soon assembled a band of like-minded weirdos and Gong came into being.
His group Gong are an avant/progressive legend. I can't imagine progressive rock being quite as BIG without Gong's sense of freedom and their conscious, primal even, attempt to conceive sound vibrations as visceral, spiritual vibrations—something I feel they would often achieve live. However, Gong's legacy now might be the Radio Gnome Trilogy: Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg, and You. The trilogy was based on a vision of Allen's future, which he saw during the full moon of Easter, 1966; the RGT is a fantastic journey of eggs, invisible temples, and Foster's Lager!
Allen split from Gong in 1975 and continued to make solo records. In 1980 he was in New York for a time and, with Bill Laswell, formed New York Gong, and recorded a one-off album, About Time. By 1981 he was back in Australia, writing poetry, recording, and performing. Since then he involved himself with handfuls of projects including: Invisible Opera Company Of Tibet, Brainville, University of Errors, and even working with Acid Mothers Temple. The "classic" lineup of Gong reunited for shows in 1994, and toured from 1996 and 2001; in 2000 they recorded the album Zero to Infinitea. Gong would continue to perform occasionally up through last year.
I hafta say, I respect that Allen choose to let his life come to an end, because, considering how massive catalog is, I don't think he had any notes left to play.