Gilli Smyth, co-founder and space whisperer of bizarro hippy band Gong, has died aged 83.
Smyth co-founded Gong in 1967 with ex-Soft Machine member Daevid Allen, and over the years, the band – in various incarnations – carved out its own path in music, from the satirical world of Zero the Hero and the Pot Head Pixies on a bizarre trilogy of albums (Radio Gnome Invisible Pt 1: The Flying Teapot, Angel’s Egg and You) to the anarcho-punk sounds of Planet Gong, made in collaboration with Here and Now.
Smyth left the band as a full time member in 1975, but remained part of the wider Gong family, releasing albums (like the remarkable Fairy Tales, tripped out spoken word stories for children) as Mother Gong and finally reuniting with Allen as Gong in the mid-Nineties.
Gong were always more than simply a bunch of communal hippies – there was satire and mischief behind much of what they did. Smyth’s unique, ethereal, floating vocals were an intrinsic part of what they did, and remain as unique now as they were then.
A statement on the Gong website says “her unique stage presence and vocals manifested and determinedly represented a vital, deeply fundamental feminine principle within the Gong universe. We will miss her. Love to the Good Witch and all who feel her loss.”