Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Logo #61: Gong

Gong's ubiquitous gnome, drawn by Gong showman and founder Daevid Allen in 1962, appears as the focal point of a trilogy of albums (expanded to a quinary by 2000): "Flying Teapot" and "Angel's Egg" (both 1973), and "You" (1974). The English progressive band - where "progressive" means all possible positive perceptions of the word - has effectively been alive since 1965, the year in which Allen had a vision in which his entire future was laid out as a plain before him (winning lottery numbers notwithstanding). This illustration was taken from a brilliant history of the EMS line of synthesizers, found here. As rock band logos go, it's a whimsical mix of folk art and the methodology of mythologies both personal and traditional.

I saw Gong perform in the late '90s in Los Angeles at the defunct Billboard Live venue - a club which broadcast the concerts live to a huge video screen on the front of the building. It turned into the Key Club, and sits in the spot on which Bill Gazzarri's (June 16, 1924 - March 13, 1991) club once stood. Same kind of band ethos in that particular block or three of Sunset Boulevard, though - not much has changed from the days of "The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II." This was during the version of the band in which Pierre Moerlen (October 23, 1952 - May 3, 2005) played drums - and just when you think eminently flipped-out, well-traveled musicians have seen it all, no stranger a look on their faces was had than when I asked the members of Gong to sign my, erm, gong. It just seems such an obvious thing to ask. The following day, I had an enlightening conversation with Gong founder Daevid Allen, who detailed at great length how deeply Virgin Records founder Richard Branson hated their guts. Oh, we talked about everything from here to the ends of the cosmos but that really stuck out for some reason - possibly because Richard Branson seems so serene amidst his billions.

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