The Guardian reports that the psych-rock originator Daevid Allen, the co-founder of Soft Machine and the founder of Gong, has died after a battle with lung cancer. One of Allen’s sons made the announcement on Facebook; Allen was reportedly at home and surrounded by his sons. He was 77.
Born Christopher David Allen in Australia, Allen moved to Paris and then to the UK in his twenties. Inspired by beat poetry and Sun Ra, he started a free jazz group called the Daevid Allen Trio in 1961. One of its members was the teenaged Robert Wyatt. Five years later, Allen and Wyatt co-founded the pioneering Canterbury prog band Soft Machine. But Allen only appeared on the band’s first single. In 1967, when the band was returning from a European tour, Allen was denied reentry into the UK, which forced him to leave the band.
Allen moved to Paris, where he took part in the 1968 protests and formed the bugged-out psych-rock ensemble Gong. He recorded a number of albums with the band, finding international cult stardom, before leaving to go solo in 1975. In the years after, he released a number of albums, both on his own and in a number of different collaborative configurations. He dabbled in space-rock and jazz and punk and reggae. In 1991, he rejoined Gong and played with them intermittently over the years.
Last month, when Allen learned that his cancer, which was previously in remission, spread to his lung, he wrote, “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.”
Here’s a video of Allen performing with Gong in 1973: