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Music / Gong

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"Gong is One and One is You."
—Quote from the back cover of You.

Gong is a psychedelic / progressive / jazz rock band founded in Paris in 1968. They are considered part of the "Canterbury Scene" known for its whimsical lyrics over jazz-drenched melodies. In fact, group founder Daevid Allen was a former member of Canterbury scene exemplars Soft Machine and their predecessors The Wilde Flowers.

Under Allen, Gong were early purveyors of Space Rock through a series of concept albums about the planet Gong, a world of "Pot Headed Pixies" and "Flying Teapots." Similarly to The Soft Machine, after 1976, they experienced Genre Shift into a jazz-rock fusion band after the departure of Allen and wife/singer/co-founder Gilli Smyth (and, after one post-Allen album much of the band's classic lineup as well). This iteration became known as Pierre Moerlen's Gong, which would go on to produce several albums of vibraphone-heavy instrumentals with more prominent guitar solos.


Meanwhile, the Gong universe continued through later incarnations such as Mother Gong until Allen and Smyth came back to re-form what jazz magazine Down Beat called his "gypsy carnival." Allen died in March 2015, but for the re-formed Gong, the show appears to go on.

Studio album discography:

  • Magick Brother/Mystic Sister - 1970
  • Camembert Electrique - 1971
  • (with Dashiell Hedayat) Obsolete - 1971
  • Continental Circus (film soundtrack) - 1972
  • Flying Teapot - 1973
  • Angel's Egg - 1973
  • You - 1974
  • Shamal - 1975
  • Gazeuse! - 1976
  • Expresso II - 1978
  • Shapeshifter - 1992
  • Zero to Infinity - 2000
  • Acid Motherhood - 2003
  • 2032 - 2009
  • I See You - 2014
  • Rejoice! I'm Dead! - 2016
  • The Universe Also Collapses - 2019



  • The Band Minus the Face: None of the members of the current iteration of Gong are either founding members or performed with the group during their 1970s heydey. They had been added to the group by Daevid Allen and he encouraged them to continue Gong without him after his 2015 death from cancer. In his last correspondence with the band members, Allen appointed Kavus Torabi, who had just joined the band in 2014, as its new leader. Rejoice! I'm Dead!, their first album following Allen's death, does contain contributions from him on three tracks.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: In "Dynamite: I Am Your Animal", which might have been somewhat shocking in 1971 (especially for a female singer).
  • Concept Album:
    • Actually a concept trilogy, as Radio Gnome Invisible consisted of Flying Teapots, Angel's Egg, and You.
    • Mother Gong did this too with Robot Woman, Robot Woman 2, and Robot Woman 3.
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  • Epic Rocking: Lots.
  • Expanded Universe: Given the large number of spinoffs and the Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy (Flying Teapots, Angel's Egg, and You), this makes Gong have a musical equivalent of this trope. It is given credence by reedist Didier Malherbe's solo album Fetish, which carries the label "Gongland" on the front cover.
  • Genre Shift: Daevid Allen-fronted Gong's Psychedelic Rock / Progressive Rock mix morphed into Pierre Moerlen's Gong of jazz fusion (still rooted in Progressive Rock, though).
  • Gratuitous French: Keep in mind the band was founded in France.
  • Land Downunder: Daevid Allen was born there, and this occasionally pops up in the Gong mythology:
    • His nom de scène is Dingo Virgin.
    • The last track on Mother Gong's "Robot Woman" is "Australia."
  • Lead Drummer: Pierre Moerlen after Shamal, besides the fact that it was afterwards called Pierre Moerlen's Gong.
  • Long Title: "Ooby-Scooby Doomsday or The D-day DJ's Got the D.D.T. Blues", "Allez Ali Baba Black Sheep Have You Any Bullshit: Mama Maya Mantram"
  • Mister Seahorse: The cover for Acid Motherhood.
  • My Hero, Zero: Zero the Hero
  • Mythology Gag: lots
  • New Sound Album: Shamal, which was actually the transition album for The Band Minus the Face Gong and its inversion, Pierre Moerlen's Gong.
  • Signature Sound Effect: Daevid Allen's glissando guitar.
  • Revolving Door Band: Gong has had dozens of members throughout the years, and there have been several instances where the band has featured no original or classic members. Bandleader and founder Daevid Allen left Gong in 1975 and the band was subsequently renamed Pierre Moerlen's Gong to identify both its new leader (drummer Pierre Moerlen, a member since 1973) and their change in sound from space rock to jazz fusion. Allen and co-founder Gilli Smyth reconvened Gong in 1992 with a mix of current and former members, with the two of them as the only constant members. Smith left the band in 2013 and died three years later. Allen was still leading Gong when he died in 2016, but he had encouraged the current version of band - all of which had joined in the preceding 10 years - to continue on without him. Right now, the official version of Gong contains no original or classic-era personnel.
  • Space Rock: An early example, as Radio Gnome Invisible was a concept trilogy taking place on the planet Gong.
  • Spin-Off: "Pierre Moerlen's Gong", "Planet Gong", "Gongmaison", "Gongzilla", "Mother Gong", "New York Gong"
  • Stage Names: "Bloomdido Bad de Grass" (a Bilingual Bonus Punny Name for reedist Didier Malbherbe), "Dingo Virgin" (Daevid Allen), "Submarine Captain" (Christian Tritsch), Shakti Yoni (singer Gilli Smyth), Hi T Moonweed (keyboardist Tim Blake), etc.