Gong + Soft Machine Founder Daevid Allen Dies at 77
Allen – who was born in 1938 in Melbourne – began his career in the U.K. in 1961, where he formed Soft Machine in the mid-‘60s. However, after playing a string of shows in the Netherlands, Germany and France, Allen was denied reentry into the U.K. As a result, he parted ways with Soft Machine to move to Paris, where he founded Gong.
Allen’s original Gong tenure ran from 1967-1975, during which time he appeared on seven albums: Magick Brother, Camembert Electrique, Continental Circus, Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg, You and Shamal. He would later reunite with the band in 1991. Gong’s most recent iteration includes Allen’s son, Orlando.
The Australian artist also had a distinguished career as a solo artist and with his backing band, the University of Errors. It was on the University of Errors’ Facebook page that news of Allen’s death broke:
In a post to Gong’s website, Allen previously revealed that last year he had undergone radiation therapy for his cancer, after which he was deemed cancer-free. However, the cancer eventually returned and he made the difficult decision to not continue treatment:
The cancer is now so well established that I have now been given approximately six months to live. So, my view has changed: 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.
Commenting on his career, Allen added, “I can only hope that during this journey I have somehow contributed to the happiness in the lives of a few other fellow humans.”
He also has said he hopes the band continues in his absence:
There are those who want to hang on to me as the band’s founder-father, claiming that Gong cannot continue without my presence. I will die soon enough, and then if Gong dies too, I would consider that this project will have fallen short. I see Gong as a tradition, a way of living music, not just a band.
Orlando Allen remembered his late father in a Facebook post (via Guardian):
And so dada Ali, bert camembert, the dingo Virgin, divided alien and his other 12 selves prepare to pass up the oily way and back to the planet of love. And I rejoice and give thanks,” he wrote. “Thanks to you dear dear daevid for introducing me to my family of magick brothers and mystic sisters, for revealing the mysteries, you were the master builder but now have made us all the master builders. As the eternal wheel turns we will continue your message of love and pass it around. We are all one, we are all gong. Rest well my friend, float off on our ocean of love. The gong vibration will forever sound and its vibration will always lift and enhance. You have left such a beautiful legacy and we will make sure it forever shines in our children and their children. Now is the happiest time of yr life. Blessed be.
Allen’s career has carried great influence and impact on musicians who have come since, including Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, who shared his thoughts in a tweet:
Our thoughts go out to Allen’s friends and family.