HISTORY - MOTHER GONG
The History of MOTHER GONG began with the Mother album of 1978, recorded & produced by Daevid Allen, which was a distillation of Gilli's political ideas and music written after she left the Gong band in 1974.
Charly Records who later brought out the sequel Fairy Tales, briefly promoted the band of musicians Gilli gathered around herself as MOTHER GONG, and the name continues. In 1979 she appeared at the New York Manifestival with unusual MOTHER GONG line-up of Chris Cutler and Fred Frith, and subsequently with Harry williamson and other musicians on the Manifestival tour around U.S.A., with Yoshko Seffer, the "Materiel " band, and Daevid Allen and New York Gong.
The next line-up in the U.K. was for the 1979 Glastonbury Festival which included Didier Malherbe, Harry Williamson and Nick Turner who with Ermano Ghizio-Herba (drm), Trevor Darks (Bass) and Mo Vickarage (Kbds) had just finished recording Fairy Tales.
MOTHER GONG also appeared at the Glastonbury Festival and at the Trondheim Festival, Norway, in 198I with Didier, Jan Emeric (gtr) Jean-Philippe Rykiel (kbds), Dane Kranenburg (bass)and Guy Evans ex Van der Graff Generator (drms) . Recordings from Glastonbury and from Harrys North Devon Studio, together with a contribution from Hugh Hopper, were used in the first of the Robot Woman series. This first album of the series, Robot Woman 1 had its roots in a comic/music show Gilli & Harry had performed as a duo in the US earlier that year.
Gilli Smyth and Harry Williamson had been living and working together since 1978 (when Gilli had broken up with Daevid Allen). In 1982 they left England for Australia and during the next few years, Butt /Shanghai records released the rest of Robot Woman series.
There formed another MOTHER GONG band with Robert Calvert on sax, Harry Williamson keyboards and production, Rob George on drums and Conrad Henderson on bass. This band did several US/UK tours in 1989 and 1991 as main band or supporting such luminaries as Big Brother and the Holding Company in San Francisco, and Bob Dylan in Kansas. The 1998 "Best of Mother Gong" encapsulates it all drawn from CDS such as "Wild Child", "Tree in the Fish", "Magenta / She Made The World", Live 1991"," Radio Sessions", "Every Witches Way", "The Owl and The Tree", etc....
Many of the apparently composed pieces on these recording were culled from "spontaneous composition" sessions. Gilli would present the group with some poetic ideas and images, and after a short discussion which would establish the parameters for the evening, tape would roll. Harry's classical affinity produced structures not often associated with jazz and "Wild Child" is perhaps the epitome of this elegant and emotionally moving process, recorded in a few wild full moon days in a studio in Wales prior to the 1989 UK tour. This band is well known for its high level of musicianship and intricate musical structures, as well as for the extraordinary voice of Gilli Smyth. She somehow manages to draw together diverse treads of lyric, melody and pure sound into a resonant web that challenges and transforms. The Classic MG understood Gilli's intentions, and made them part of the process.
Although the band have become separated geographically they still have occasional playing sessions together despite the various different directions its members have since taken
In 1992, 1993, 1994 gilli did solo tours in the U.S. and U.K., using backing tapes from MOTHER GONG sessions and Craig Mitchell's light/slideshow of extraordinary images. Craig ran GAS America in the early nineties and put on some gigs at the same time as Rick Chafen's U.S. solo tour circuit which toured Kevin Ayers, Daevid Allen, Tim Blake, MOTHER GONG, Gilli Smyth and others. In 1994 gilli played the First International Goddess Festival in Santa Cruz (put on by Z Budapest), and previously the Elf Festival, Glastonbury and Starwood Festivals several times. She was joined by Rob Calvert for another U.S.,U.K. tour and played the MOTHER GONG set with him at the October 1994 Gong Reunion gigs.
The great Unconventional Gong gathering in October 2005 in Glastonbury saw the emergence of yet another MOTHER GONG line-up, with Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe, Gwyo Ze Pix, Orlando Allenand Tim Hall. This band did gigs in the U.K. and Norway in the month before the Uncon and recorded a CD as "Mother Gong 2006". MOTHER GONG has an illustrious history, starting in l978 with the release of Gilli's first solo album, "Motherr" (produced by Daevid Allen)....and continuing through l4 line-ups. MOTHER GONG was also on stage at Uncon 2006 in Amsterdam. (CD: "O Amsterdam")