June 1st, 1933 - August 22, 2016

Gilli Smyth / Shakti Yoni - 1973

Gilli grew up in musical household, took three degrees at Kings College, London University, where she edited college magazine, wrote controversial political stuff that hit the tabloids, did readings and musical and theatrical performances, as she had from an early age. Published a couple of books of poetry. However it was not until she went to Paris, started living with Daevid Allen, and eventually Gong I spontaneously arose around them, that she really started to develop the potential of her voice, and the lifetime habit of constant gigs. In late l967 and 68 in Paris, they played every night at club "La Vielle Grille" and it was during this time, with another singer Zizka Baum, that Gilli developed the ethereal method of atonal singing, vocalising and "musical landscaping" that she is famous for. This band was dispersed by the May l968 revolution but Daevid Allen and Gilli Smyth returned to France in late l969 to gather another group of Gong musicians, including Didier Malherbe, which flourished until l975/6.

Gilli left Gong in July l974, after "YOU", to follow a solo career with her own direction of music. As the musicians in Gong changed, mostly, like Gilli, they went on to found their own individual bands, "Pierre Moerlen's Gong," for example, "New York Gong", "Planet Gong," "Mother Gong" etc. The "Mother Gong" band started in l978 with the release of Gilli's first solo album "Mother", thus the name. This became a classic, was followed in l98O by "Fairy Tales", and then the "Robot Woman" trilogy written with Harry Williamson. This band played Glastonbury main stage in 1979 and 1981, and did the "Manifestival" U.S. tour in 1980. Gilli Smyth emigrated to Australia in 1982 and there formed another "Mother Gong" band with Robert Calvert on sax, Harry Williamson keyboards and production, Rob George on drums. This band produced l2 CDs up to 1994, several books and tapes, and did several US/UK tours, as main band or supporting such luminaries as Big Brother and the Holding Co., in San Francisco, and Bob Dylan in Kansas. The 1998 "Best of Mother Gong" encapsulates it all. The reunion of practically all the original members of Gong in l994 ("Party" at Forum, London) resulted in that band touring several months of the year from 1996 on, and Gong on the road still continues.

The Global Family has grown huge and there are gong friends in every city or country they play. Many CDs of Gong members or related bands have come out through the central Gong station, GAS in Glastonbury,including the latest Gong release "0 2 Infinity" (2000). Meanwhile enthused by playing together again (from "Floating Anarchy" days and CD of Planetgong '77) Steffie Sharpstrings (Here and Now band) and Gilli wrote and released "Even as we" (Steffie's composition and production), in 1995, and played some 'live P.A." techno gigs at the Whirligig, Hanover Club, Bath Festival etc. Gilli started to explore this music because for years she had heard samples of her voice on various kinds of techno music, ( generally unacknowedged.), and then developed her own style in it. In fact early Gong had got into the idiom of complex and beautiful space over hypnotic rhythms. In 1996 she got into playing dance parties on the North East (Rainbow) coast of Australia, with a group of musicians who became known as Goddess Trance, and then Goddess T. This band toured Japan in l999. They produced live recordings, and "Electric Shiatsu" composed and produced by Orlando Allen, who also composed and put together "It's all a dream" "It's all a dream" is seductive, intense, melodious, with strong grooves and some interesting sample flash backs to previous Gong and Mother Gong albums. Of the 40 or 50 albums that Gilli has been involved in in her professional life this album most encapsulates her desire to explore the frequencies that profoundly affect our emotions through our cells, as whalesong does, and all the millions of tone fragments in "music of the spheres". This exploration is here possible through the intricate compositions of Orlando Allen, on a strong rhythmic base.

She has produced several albums including "I am your Egg", sharing the composition with Orlando Allen, and Daevid Allen, as on the story album, "Short Tales and Tall". Other works include "Parade" with the band Gong Matrices, "Paradise", and "Politico-Historico-Spirito" about Gong.

Gilli was involved in GONG for some events as the Uncon 2006 in Amsterdam and Massive Attack's Meltdown 2008. GONG toured in 2009 and 2010 and recorded "2032" and "I See You".

Known for her haunting seductive voice and lyrics, she has been the female voice of Gong (Shakti Yoni) all through powering on with even more subtle explorations of the frequencies and resonances that zing into the body and vibrate its deepest cells.

Shakti Yoni