Daevid Allen

Jan 13, 1938
Mar 13, 2015

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From Wikipedia:

Christopher David Allen (13 January 1938 – 13 March 2015), known professionally as Daevid Allen, sometimes credited as Divided Alien, was an Australian musician. He was co-founder of the psychedelic rock groups Soft Machine (in the UK, 1966) and Gong (in France, 1967).

Early years

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 recently 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 and rented a room at Lydden, near Dover, where he 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 did not join them. After meeting up with William S. Burroughs, and inspired by philosophies of Sun Ra, he formed 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 in August 1967, Allen was refused re-entry to the UK because he had overstayed his visa on a prior visit. He returned to Paris where he formed Gong along with his partner Gilli Smyth. They also formed the Bananamoon Band. Both projects were cut short as the two took part in the 1968 Paris protests which swept the city, handing out teddy bears to the police and reciting poetry in pidgin French. Allen admitted that he was scorned by the other protesters for being a beatnik. Fleeing the police, they made their way to Deià, Mallorca, where they had lived for a time in 1966 and had met the poet Robert Graves, a friend of Robert Wyatt’s family.

Returning to Paris in August 1969, they were offered the chance to make an album by the BYG Actuel label and so formed a new Gong band and recorded Magick Brother, released in March 1970. […]

The Soft Machine is a psychedelic rock band that was formed in mid-1966 by Mike Ratledge, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers, and Daevid Allen. In January 1967, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd performed live at the “A Million Volt Light & Sound Rave” event, where The Beatles contributed their piece “Carnival Of Light“. Around that time, Paul McCartney met Daevid Allen and they planned to collaborate on an avant-garde project, but it never happened.

Outside of The Soft Machine and the Electric Poets, Allen was a prolific and proficient tape-loop composer. He was the link between the academia of Luciano Berio and John Cage and the psychedelic jamming of The Pink Floyd and the Speakeasy regulars. […] He met McCartney one hazy night and the two of them planned to collaborate on a new avant-garde piece, but events conspired against them, as Allen remembers:

“In the aftermath of high hippy spin Paul McCartney spoke of working with me on tape-loop compositions, based on my reputation as a tape-loop and collage composer best circulated by my 30-minute BBC Third Programme piece, commissioned by BBC Radiophonic Workshop and broadcast in 1966. This didn’t materialise due to my being banned from entering the UK in 1967 but we had already shared ideas at the Speakeasy Club earlier that year.”

From “The Unknown Paul McCartney: McCartney and the Avant-Garde” by Ian Peel, 2002


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