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Pierre Moerlen 5/2005

pierre-moerlenMay 2, 2005 – Pierre Moerlen (Gong) was born on October 23, 1952 in the French Alsace Wine region.  The third of five children, his father Maurice Moerlen was a famous organist (one of his teachers was Maurice Duruflé) and his mother was a music teacher. All five Moerlen children learned music with their parents and all became musicians. Pierre’s younger brother, Benoît Moerlen, is also a percussionist (he worked also with Gong and Oldfield).

In January 1973, Pierre joined Daevid Allen‘s band, Gong, as percussionist, debuting on the Angel’s Egg album.

In June 1973 he was asked by Virgin’s boss Richard Branson to play percussion with Mike Oldfield for the premiere of Tubular Bells.

Between 1975 and 1987, beginning with Ommadawn, Pierre would be Mike Oldfield’s percussionist of choice for his albums and his tours.

After Daevid Allen had left in 1975, Gong went under the name of Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. In 1978 PMG were released from the Virgin contract, and signed with Arista, releasing Downwind (1979), Time Is The Key (1979), Live (1980) and Leave It Open (1980). During this period, Moerlen regularly toured internationally with Mike Oldfield.

PMG ceased operations in 1981 following tours of North America and Europe in late 1980. Later that year, Moerlen briefly joined Magma as second drummer.

Following Mike Oldfield’s 10th Anniversary tour in 1983, he joined the Swedish progressive/symphonic band Tribute (1985–87).

PMG reformed for two albums and tours in the late 1980s. At this point the band – which included American musicians Bon Lozaga (guitar) and Hansford Rowe (bass) – were playing jazz fusion rather than the Canterbury scene-influenced psychedelia of old.

After spending several years as orchestra pit musician for various musicals, he returned to active service in 1997 when he joined the British jazz-rock outfit Brand X for international touring in 1997. Later that year, he was asked to rejoin Gong, and toured with the band until 1999. He then concentrated on putting together a new PMG line-up and repertoire, which resulted in the live album Pentanine, recorded in Moscow in 2002.

Pierre Moerlen died unexpectedly of natural causes on 3 May, 2005. At the time of his death he was rehearsing with a new incarnation of Pierre Moerlen’s Gong. He was 52.


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