Daevid Allen, the prog and psychedelic rock guitarist, singer and composer who founded both the Soft Machine and Gong, succumbed to cancer and passed away today in his native Australia. He was 77 years old.
Allen was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1938. Inspired by the Beat Generation writers such as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, he moved to Paris in 1960. A year later, he moved to England and soon formed the Daveid Allen Trio, a free jazz group that included a 16 year old Robert Wyatt on drums. In 1966, Allen and Wyatt formed the progressive rock group the Soft Machine, named after a Burroughs novel, with Kevin Ayers and Mike Ratledge. A year later, as the band returned home to the UK from a European tour, Allen faced visa problems and was denied entry into the country. He returned to Paris and the Soft Machine continued without him.
While in Paris, Allen formed the band progressive and psychedelic rock band Gong. The long-running, experimental outfit would continue for decades, featuring numerous personnel changes and spinning off side projects and affiliate bands such as Mother Gong, Planet Gong and Acid Mothers Gong. Allen himself left the band in 1976 to record and perform as a solo artist. He eventually returned to Gong in 1991 and performed in various iterations of that group until last year.
In addition to playing music, Allen was also a poet and performance artist. He is survived by his son Orlando, who had played drums in recent incarnations of Gong.