18 marzo 2015


In un'intervista concessa l'anno scorso a Innerviews Terry Riley ricorda il contatto e l'amicizia con Daevid Allen a Parigi nei primissimi anni sessanta, tra il 1962 e il 1963: "When I got to Paris, I hung out with the next-door neighbor from San Francisco, who was a friend of Daevid Allen’s. At that time in Paris, Daevid was delivering the Herald Tribune newspaper. He had a route that went through the Paris Opera and up through Pigalle. One night, Daevid flipped out and threw all the newspapers all over the street and was just done with it. I said “I could use that gig.” I thought it would be fun. So, I sold newspapers. I’d start out at the Paris Opera and I still remember being at the opera the night Marilyn Monroe died in August 1962. I immediately sold out of all my papers. I didn’t even have to go to Place Pigalle that night. Eventually, I got other jobs and got out of that newspaper gig. I started playing at Fred Payne’s Artists’ Bar, which used to be on my paper route. The bar had been there since the ‘30s. Fred was a very old, English expat who had this bar full of young French prostitutes for businessmen. So, I would go in and play piano for them as they had their fun. Sometimes, they would close the bar at night and I’d play piano all night while the guys were frolicking with the women. I liked playing at Fred’s, because it actually developed some of my improvisational skills. Nobody cared what I played. Sometimes I’d do a long, extended improv and Fred would say “That doesn’t sound like music.” But it was a place to freely experiment in front of an audience. Then out of that, I got another job playing floor shows in France. It launched me into making some money. I got some decent jobs out of it.
Daevid and I remained friends through that whole period in Paris. I got Daevid into tape loops. I played him this stuff I had done in San Francisco with Anna Halprin like Mescaline Mix and pieces like that. Daevid got really interested in that and started doing a lot of stuff with tape loops. We used to jam a lot together in Paris. I’d also hang out on his houseboat on the Seine. It was very funky. He probably got it for $50 or cheaper. It was tied up to a quai and was a very small, one-room space. He lived there the whole time I was in Paris. We had mutual friends down at The Beat Hotel in Paris. We’d go down there a lot. We’d meet people like Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs there. Our cultural life at the time involved going from the houseboat to The Beat Hotel. We ran into many interesting people.
Daevid was a much hipper guy than me. He was more into the Beat and pre-hippie scenes. I was a straight UC Berkeley graduate who experimented a lot with weird music, so we had that connection. I educated him about musical ideas and he showed me things about the free bohemian life you could lead in Paris. I really liked Daevid’s fantasy drawings, poems, and the funny Australian language elements he’d use. It was captivating for me. He was very influential on me. He showed me a new kind of life, even though his was chaos. It was pretty easy for Daevid to flip over into the other side, but he could always keep it together enough to keep going. This was all pre-Soft Machine and Gong. I remember Robert Wyatt came over to the houseboat one time and I got to jam with him. He was playing one of those Dizzy Gillespie-style trumpets with the bell going up. I thought he was a trumpet player when I met him, and he was, I guess, back then. Robert is so talented. He could do anything. I last saw Daevid when he came to visit me when I had a place in Richmond, California, five years ago. He stayed with us there twice. He’s an extraordinarily gifted guy. Gong is also one of my favorite bands. It was one of the places that rock ended up that was very vital."