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My Prog Hero: Temples' Thomas Walmsley bangs the gong for the late Daevid Allen

A photograph of Daevid Allen dressed up on stage

“I got into prog through my dad’s records. He had The Dark Side Of The Moon, mid-period Genesis and one of the weirder Yes albums. These lived at the back of my collection with punk records and singles that I’d bought preceding them. About five years ago, they started to come to the front. The best thing about prog and psych is the lack of rules. It’s the freest music there is.

I became curious about the Canterbury Scene and read an article about Caravan, Soft Machine and The Wilde Flowers. There was a tightly-cropped picture of Daevid Allen’s head with the caption: ‘Founding member of Gong’. I knew nothing about him so I went online and it opened up a whole world. He was someone who had a lot to say. A beat poet and an agitator, even though drugs might have been used in the process to make music, his ideas are bigger than that; it’s about perception. I started off with the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy, and although some tracks are quite off-putting, there are some incredibly well thought-out pop ideas.

He’s clearly aware of what he’s doing, making a myth around Russell’s teapot as a vehicle to challenge authority, and using comedy as well. I’m a huge fan of Good Morning!, recorded with Euterpe after he left Gong and went back to Mallorca. It’s a great, stripped-back psychedelic folk record that captures the essence of him. Within six months he was doing Planet Gong and made my favourite record, Live Floating Anarchy 1977, which is the opposite end of the spectrum on the heels of the punk movement. In that 12 months, Daevid was at his most creative, without boundaries. He was always very good at finding groups of musicians and directing them accordingly. In every era he had something to say; the New York Gong record About Time just works, it’s folk-punk-new wave, with an Ian Dury style to it.

My biggest regret is that I didn’t get to see him, but I love all the live footage. He was a true performer and even on the last album, I See You, he was as switched-on and relevant as ever.”

Volcano is out now. See

Jo Kendall

Embracing weird, wild and wonderful sounds, Prog's new editor Jo's also a Classic Rock columnist, an avid tea-drinker and cupcake fancier.