04 May 2005

Pierre Moerlen 1952-2005

Avant Music News reports the May 2nd passing of
Pierre Moerlen
of Gong

Bio from Planet Gong
Pierre had a deep musical heritage. Both his parents were music teachers, his father thaught piano and organ at the Strasbourg Conservatory as well as being organist of Strasbourg Cathedral. So naturally was taught to play piano from the age of seven but soon declared a preference for drums. He started with a snare, progressing to a drum kit and then full percussion. In '67 he went to the Conservatory to study percussion under Jean Batigue, leader of the Percussion de Strasbourg group. He graduated in '72 with the Premier Prix du Percussion. It was there that he met Mireille Bauer who graduated in '74 having won the same honour. Benoit Pierre's younger brother also went to the Conservatory, specialising in the vibraphone. Before joining Gong in June '73 Pierre toured accompying the Company Claude Confortes of Grenoble and worked briefly with Gabriel Federow, who went on to Magma.

Mireille guested on 'Angel's Egg' and 'You', Benoit also guests on 'You', but neither of them become full time members till much later.

Recorded 'Expresso II' under the name Gong (to complete the Virgin contract) with Mick Taylor, Alan Holdsworth, Bon Lozaga and Francois Causse guesting. The album was released in N. America as by Pierre Moerlen's Gong. Toured Scandinavia and Germany.

Pierre and Benoit play on several Mike Oldfield sessions, including 'Ommadawn' (Virgin V2043), 'Incantations' (VDT1 01), 'Platinum' (V21 41), 'Crises' (V2262), 'Islands', and the live version of Tubular Bells. Pierre also appeared on 'Iskander' with Supersister (Polydor 2485134) in 1973, 'Desperate Straights' with Slapp Happy/Henry Cow (Virgin V2024), 'Mathematicians Air Display' with Pekka Pohojol a (V2084), 'Vibrarock' with Robert Wood (Polydor 23931 37), on which Mike Howlett also appeared, and Mick Taylor's eponymous solo album (CBS 35076)

Signed to Arista, recorded 'Downwind' in '78 (SPART1080) with Didier Lockwood, Mick Taylor, Terry Oldfield and Stevie Winwood guesting. 'Live' (SPART1130, 1980) was recorded during the Downwind Tour in early '79.

Recorded 'Time is the Key' in summer '79 (SPART 1105) with Peter Lemer (he didn't want to tour) and, guesting: Alan Holdsworth, D. Way, N. Ramsden, J. Kirby. Recorded 'Leave it Open' in March 80 (Lifetime 202 995 320 '81) with Charlie Mariano and Brian Holloway guesting. Toured America and Europe Summer to Winter 1980, then split.

Pierre Moerlen joined the Swedish Band Tribute from 1985 to 1986.

Records: Breaking Barriers '86 and Live '86 The reformed Pierre Moerlen's Gong and recorded Scientology-inspired 'Breakthrough' in Sept '86 with Tribute (Eulenspiegel EULP 1053) '86, and 'Second Wind' (LIDLP 50003) '88. Toured Europe '87 & '88.


Anonymous said...

Sad news. Moerlin was always overlooked as a drummer. he was really a great player.
I never knew of the Avant Music News link, its fantastic.

ramkin said...

yah, I just now doubled checked at planetgong. Wow

jc said...

Moerlen was phenomenal and usually overlooked as a percussionist. Didn't know he played on the Slapp Happy/Henry Cow record. Sad.