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‘Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy’: Art rock obscurity featuring Brian Eno and Kevin Ayers


 
When she died of a heart attack in 1999 at the age of 68, her obituary in The Independent called “Lady” June Campbell Cramer “a great British eccentric and cosmic prankster.” That’s already a pretty good claim to fame, but the obit went on to say that her “most achieved performance was herself: she succeeded in turning her existence into living art, bristling with humour.”

“Lady” June—the honorary title given to her due to her upper-crust, aristocratic voice (she sounded like a stoned Judi Dench) and the fact that she was the de facto landlady of many a progressive musician from the Canterbury set—was a sort of free-spirited hippie bohemian poetess and multimedia performance artist who ran with the crowd that included Gong and Soft Machine, who she first met in Spain in the early 1960s.

According to Daevid Allen, who was in both groups, June’s Maida Vale flat was “London’s premier smoking salon”:

“She was ferocious in the mornings until the first joint arrived: she’d hover over you with a wet cloth demanding that you clean the stove.”

Gilli Smyth of Gong, Allen’s wife, was her best friend, and it was at a dual birthday party June threw for herself and Smyth that a drunken Robert Wyatt fell out of a window, falling four stories and leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
 

 
In 1973, June took part in the chaotic BBC Radio 4 series If It’s Wednesday It Must Be… with Kenny Everett and former Bonzo Dog Band member Vivian Stanshall. Later that year she recorded Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy, her surrealist poetry set to music by her longtime friend (and longtime tenant) Kevin Ayers and Brian Eno, who lived nearby. The recording was made in the front room of her apartment (along with Gong’s drummer Pip Pyle and David Vorhaus of White Noise) and is said to have cost just £400. A wary Caroline Records—a Virgin subsidiary set up to release things with little to no commercial potential in the first place—pressed up just 5000 copies, but the album sold out quickly when news of her famous collaborators got around. June performed on bills along with Gong, Hawkwind, The Pink Fairies and Hatfield and the North.

“Lady” June Campbell Cramer returned to Spain in 1975 and became an active and creatively fulfilled participant in the artists’ community of Deya in Majorca. It is primarily for the company she kept—and this one remarkable album—that we remember her today. Lady June’s Linguistic Leprosy was re-issued on CD in 2007 by Market Square.
 

“Everythingsnothing”/“Tunion”
 

“The Letter”
 

“Tourisy”/“Am I”
 

“To Whom It May Concern”
 

“Some Day Silly Twenty Three”
 

“Missing Person,” a gorgeous number from a 1984 French various artists release entitled History of Jazz.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New on ‘My Dad Was In a Band’: My Dad is Daevid Allen from Gong!
07.22.2013
12:40 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Gong
Daevid Allen
My Dad Was In A Band


 
Another notable “Dad” was recently submitted to our sister site, My Dad was in a Band, this time coming from Ynys Allen, son of Gong’s Daevid Allen, whose father, of course is still in a band:

The first time I heard him play? I went on tour overseas with him and my mother when I was around 9 months old does that count? I suppose I’ve heard his music a lot over the years. But when your dad’s recording studio is situated in the non-soundproofed room right next door to your bedroom, I guess you kinda learn to drown it out.

Since he still currently plays I guess he’s not really applicable to the “was,” but because he has been around since before Jimi Hendrix was cool and he’s like mid 70s now, I thought I’d just submit him anyway. He’s been at the core of a whole bunch of bands, Soft Machine and Gong being the most notable.

Growing up with him is probably the reason why I don’t find anything weird in life. Dad has all these crazy drawings he’d done on commission plastered on the walls, he loves all weird things and has the craziest costumes and he’d dress up in them and dance around the living room. It’s been a running joke in my family that he’s 70 going on 17.

Hilariously enough I’m not the musical type at all, my mother is a professional artist and my father a professional musician and I entered university to do a degree in Computer Science. I’ve never really listened to my dad’s music recreationally, I didn’t even really listen to music in my early and mid-teens either, nor am I especially an avid music-fan now. Not that my dad minds all that much really- he’s already got one son in the band.

–Ynys Allen, son of Daevid Allen

Below, Gong on French television’s POP2 program in 1971:
 

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Mystic Sister / Magick Brothers: Gong live at Montserrat, 1973
11.19.2012
09:27 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Gong
Prog Rock


 
Moody, atmospheric live film of Gong onstage in a cathedral in Montserrat in 1973 with the classic line-up of Tim Blake on synth, the late, great Pierre Moerlen on drums, Mike Howlett on bass, Didier Malherbe on sax and flute, Steve Hillage on guitar, and, of course, Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth.

Interesting to note how many older people were in attendance. What did they make of THIS?

Taken from the Gong at Montserrat 1973 DVD, which I highly recommend (cough, cough).
 

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Pataphysical Materialism: Daevid Allen and NY Gong, live in Los Angeles, 1979


Above a flyer for New York Gong at CBGB’s

This just made my day: Black and white footage of Daevid Allen performing with New York Gong in Los Angeles, 1979.

Also known as the “Zu Band” because they were formed for rock impresario Giorgio Gomelsky’s “Zu Manifestival” event in Manhattan, the core musicians went on to form Bill Laswell’s Material. As seen here at the Los Angeles Zu Manifestival, New York Gong were Daevid Allen, guitar; Bill Bacon, drums; Bill Laswell, bass; Don Davis, sax, and future Shimmy Disc founder Kramer on trombone/synths. In the midst of New York’s abrasive No Wave scene, New York Gong were “Yes Wave” to the max, progressive, jazz, punk, progrock wunderkids led by the ultimate hippie

The sound quality is iffy, but that this even exists is a fucking miracle, if you ask me…
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
‘Weezy, get me some LSD’: When Sherman Hemsley met Gong

Floating Anarchy: Gong, live on French TV, 1973

Thank you Virginia Tate!

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‘Weezy, get me some LSD’: When Sherman Hemsley met Gong
07.24.2012
01:42 pm

Topics:
Music
R.I.P.
Television

Tags:
Gong
Daevid Allen
Sherman Hemsley


 
In honor of the passing of Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played “George Jefferson” on the The Jeffersons and All in the Family television series, here’s a re-post from the Dangerous Minds archives.

Sherman Hemsley was known to be a huge fan of prog rock, especially Gentle Giant, Nektar and Gong.

Hemsley collaborated with Yes’s Jon Anderson on a funk-rock opera about the “spiritual qualities of the number 7” (never produced). Hemsley also did an interpretive dance to the Gentle Giant song “Proclamation” on Dinah Shore’s 70s talkshow, that was apparently somewhat confusing for her.

But the best story, I mean the best story of all time, is the one told by Gong’s Daevid Allen about his encounter with the beloved 70’s sitcom star. Here is Allen’s verbatim tale as related to Mitch Myers (and originally published in Magnet magazine):

“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap because we didn’t have television in Spain (where I was living). He called me from Hollywood saying, ‘I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m going to fly you here and put flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip.’ I thought,  ‘This guy is a lunatic.’ He kept it up so I said, ‘Listen, can you get us tickets to L.A. via Jamaica? I want to go there to make a reggae track and have a honeymoon with my new girlfriend.’ He said, ‘Sure! I’ll get you two tickets.’

I thought, ‘Well, even if he’s a nut case at least he’s coming up with the goodies.’ The tickets arrived and we had this great honeymoon in Jamaica. Then we caught the plane across to L.A. We had heard Sherman was a big star, but we didn’t know the details. Coming down the corridor from the plane, I see this black guy with a whole bunch of people running after him trying to get autographs. Anyway, we get into this stretch limousine with Sherman and immediately there’s a big joint being passed around. I say, ‘Sorry man, I don’t smoke.’ Sherman says, ‘You don’t smoke and you’re from Gong?’

Inside the front door of Sherman’s house was a sign saying, ‘Don’t answer the door because it might be the man.’ There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid. They also had little crack/freebase depots on every floor. Then Sherman says, ‘Come on upstairs and I’ll show you the Flying Teapot room.’ Sherman was very sweet but was surrounded by these really crazy people.

We went up to the top floor and there was this big room with darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.

[My girlfriend] Maggie and I were really tired and went to our room to go to bed. The room had one mattress with an electric blanket and that was it. No bed covering, no pillow, nothing. The next day we came down and Sherman showed us a couple of [The Jeffersons] episodes.

One of our fans came and rescued us, but not before Sherman took us to see these Hollywood PR people. They said, ‘Well, Mr. Hemsley wants us to get the information we need in order to do these Flying Teapot billboards on Sunset Strip.’ I looked at them and thought they were the cheesiest, most nasty people that I had ever seen in my life and I gave them the runaround. I just wanted out of there. I liked Sherman a lot. He was a very personable, charming guy. I just had a lot of trouble with the people around him.”

Oi, if Daevid Allen thinks you’re weird, you must be a stone freak! (Like our pal, opera singer/actor Jesse Merlin. He met Daevid Allen in San Francisco and Allen said “Just look at him. He’s a perfect example of himself!” Coming from Daevid Allen, that’s the best compliment in the history of the world, isn’t it?)

Below, Sherman Hemsley as “George Jefferson,” dancing up a storm to Nektar’s “Show Me the Way”!
 

 
After the jump, Gong on French TV, 1973.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Weezy, get me some LSD: ‘George Jefferson’ is a big prog rock fan


 
Sherman Hemsley, the actor who played “George Jefferson” on the The Jeffersons and All in the Family is known to be a huge fan of prog rock, especially Gentle Giant, Nektar and Gong.

Hemsley collaborated with Yes’s Jon Anderson on a funk-rock opera about the “spiritual qualities of the number 7” (never produced). Hemsley also did an interpretive dance to the Gentle Giant song “Proclamation” on Dinah Shore’s 70s talkshow, that was apparently somewhat confusing for her.

But the best story, I mean the best story of all time, is the one told by Gong’s Daevid Allen about his encounter with the beloved 70’s sitcom star. Here is Allen’s verbatim tale as related to Mitch Myers (and originally published in Magnet magazine):

“It was 1978 or 1979, and Sherman Hemsley kept ringing me up. I didn’t know him from a bar of soap because we didn’t have television in Spain (where I was living). He called me from Hollywood saying, ‘I’m one of your biggest fans and I’m going to fly you here and put flying teapots all up and down the Sunset Strip.’ I thought,  ‘This guy is a lunatic.’ He kept it up so I said, ‘Listen, can you get us tickets to L.A. via Jamaica? I want to go there to make a reggae track and have a honeymoon with my new girlfriend.’ He said, ‘Sure! I’ll get you two tickets.’

I thought, ‘Well, even if he’s a nut case at least he’s coming up with the goodies.’ The tickets arrived and we had this great honeymoon in Jamaica. Then we caught the plane across to L.A. We had heard Sherman was a big star, but we didn’t know the details. Coming down the corridor from the plane, I see this black guy with a whole bunch of people running after him trying to get autographs. Anyway, we get into this stretch limousine with Sherman and immediately there’s a big joint being passed around. I say, ‘Sorry man, I don’t smoke.’ Sherman says, ‘You don’t smoke and you’re from Gong?’

Inside the front door of Sherman’s house was a sign saying, ‘Don’t answer the door because it might be the man.’ There were two Puerto Ricans that had a LSD laboratory in his basement, so they were really paranoid. They also had little crack/freebase depots on every floor. Then Sherman says, ‘Come on upstairs and I’ll show you the Flying Teapot room.’ Sherman was very sweet but was surrounded by these really crazy people.

We went up to the top floor and there was this big room with darkened windows and “Flying Teapot” is playing on a tape loop over and over again. There were also three really dumb-looking, very voluptuous Southern gals stoned and wobbling around naked. They were obviously there for the guys to play around with.

[My girlfriend] Maggie and I were really tired and went to our room to go to bed. The room had one mattress with an electric blanket and that was it. No bed covering, no pillow, nothing. The next day we came down and Sherman showed us a couple of [The Jeffersons] episodes.

One of our fans came and rescued us, but not before Sherman took us to see these Hollywood PR people. They said, ‘Well, Mr. Hemsley wants us to get the information we need in order to do these Flying Teapot billboards on Sunset Strip.’ I looked at them and thought they were the cheesiest, most nasty people that I had ever seen in my life and I gave them the runaround. I just wanted out of there. I liked Sherman a lot. He was a very personable, charming guy. I just had a lot of trouble with the people around him.”

Oi, if Daevid Allen thinks you’re weird, you must be a stone freak! (Like our pal, opera singer/actor Jesse Merlin. He met Daevid Allen in San Francisco and Allen said “Just look at him. He’s a perfect example of himself!” Coming from Daevid Allen, that’s the best compliment in the history of the world, isn’t it?)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Floating Anarchy: Gong, live on French TV, 1973

Below, “George Jefferson” dancing up a storm to Nektar’s “Show Me the Way”!
 

 
After the jump, a video for Gong’s “How to Stay Alive” with animations of Daevid Allen’s drawings.

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Floating Anarchy: Gong, live on French TV, 1973


 
Considering how much I love the shit out of Daevid Allen and Gong, I’ve only posted about them once before on DM??? How can that be?

Well then, here’s to making up for that grievous oversight with something so fucking good it might cause you to have an out-of-body experience: Two insanely great live Gong performances from French television in 1973 on a show called Rockenstock.

First, the band do a ripping version of “I’ve Never Been Glid” that sounds extremely close to the studio version on Angels Egg except that Daevid Allen mischievously changes the song’s last line, “That’s another story, now it’s time to go and have a cup of tea see” to “That’s another story, now it’s time to go and smoke another roach.” (“Glidding” is how the Pot Head Pixes fly the teapots, if you are confused…)

I love the way that Allen’s trippy hippy dancing seems to “conduct” the group. Dig Steve Hillage’s “lewd guitar, Pierre Moerlen’s drums (the man was a god of rhythmic pounding, up there with Jaki Liebezeit), Tim Blake’s spacey VCS3 and synth-work,  the great Mike Howlett’s booming, tight, bass-lines and Didier Malherbe’s anarchic sax riffs. This is Gong at the height of their power and they absolutely crush it..
 

 
After the jump, “space whisperer” Gilli Smyth performs a mind-melting version of “Witch’s Song/I Am Your Pussy” from Flying Teapot.

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Pothead Pixie: Animation made with Daevid Allen’s psychedelic drawings

image
 
Delightful animation of Gong leader Daevid Allen’s drawings by Japan’s Mood Magic duo. For a song called “How To Stay Alive” from Gong’s recent 2032 album.

Gong are playing tonight in Glasgow, Scotland at the ABC, tomorrow night in Manchester at the Academy and on Saturday 9/11 at the HMV Forum in London.

I saw the fabled psychedelic cult rockers in Los Angeles a few years back at the Knitting Factory (with Allen’s fellow Soft Machine co-founder Kevin Ayers) and the now 72-year-old “pothead pixie” and crew—core Gong members Steve Hillage on guitar, Miquette Giraudy on synthesizers and “space whisperer” Gilli Smythe (I love her) will be performing with Allen—still put on an absolutely marvelous show. Truly a one-of-a-kind musical experience. The Glasgow concert will be their first in the city for a decade. Hawkwind’s Nik Turner will be opening the shows with his group, Space Ritual.  It’s Classic Rock magazine’s Gig of the Week. Tickets available here.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment