New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Culture
  2. Music
17 March 2015

The New Statesman’s unlikely role in the progressive rock movement of the 1960s

"Painter/musician badly needs rent cheap." 

By New Statesman

If someone were to ask what sparked the psychedelic rock movement of the 1960s, the New Statesman might not be the first answer to spring to mind. (Hint: it was drugs.) But the magazine did play an unusual role in the influential musical collaborations between Daevid Allen, who passed away on 13 March, and Robert Wyatt. Together they formed Soft Machine, the first band to emerge from the “Canterbury scene”.

When Allen moved from Australia to London in 1960 and found himself struggling to support himself, he turned to the New Statesman, placing a wanted advert in the back pages for a cottage, loft, garage or outhouse with cheap rent anywhere in Britain or Europe.

The BBC journalist Honor Wyatt replied, inviting him to stay at her family home in Lydden near Dover. It was there that Allen met her son, Robert Wyatt, where they connected over their shared musical interests. Allen said of his stay:

I found Robert who was fifteen at the time and a real prodigy. He was a real influence to me. It was a great time of feeding each other. I’d just discovered Ornette Coleman [the jazz saxophonist] and this whole period revolutionised me.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

The pair made some of their first music together, along with Hugh Hopper, as the free jazz outfit the Daevid Allen Trio. They experimented with LSD throughout the early Sixties, and continued to play together alongside a number of other Kent-based musicians, including Hopper, Kevin Ayers, and Mike Ratledge. They formed Soft Machine in mid-1966, and soon became the darlings of the London music scene.

Content from our partners
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors
How the apprenticeship levy helps small businesses to transform their workforce
How to reform the apprenticeship levy