planet gong archives

Pip Pyle


Pip Pyle died unexpectedly in a Paris hotel in the wee hours of Monday 28 August 2006, having played a cracking gig with Hatfield and the North in Groningen on the Saturday night. Pip's funeral took place Tuesday 19 September at high noon in Essex.

Pip Pyle RIP - A Souvenir Portfolio - Calyx · Pip Pyle's desert island discs · The Independent · Wikipedia

Sam Ellidge
I am Sam, Pip's oldest son. (He was father to seven.) I would like to ask a favour of you… to decorate Pip's coffin with the type of stickers he would have on his flight cases. This means band logo's i.e. National Health, Hatfield and the North, Gong or even Musicians' Union 'keep music live' stickers. If any one has one and would like it put on his coffin please send it to the funeral director's, and if you would like to write a message on it that would be brilliant. We thought this would be better than flowers!!!

Note : Jonny Greene sent an assortment of Gong tour stickers to adorn Pip's coffin - some incredibly old - on behalf of all who loved the man and his music.

Jonny Greene
We all loved Pip, everybody did. A big spirit, a big heart and a big musician. No-one who ever toured with him or counted him among their friends will ever forget the sheer joie de vivre with which he launched himself at life, and which so often sucked you along as well, I know they will all be devestated. As one of the Gongmaison musicians told me through the tears when I broke the news to him, I had some of the best times of my life with Pip. It's like some mighty oak has fallen.
Hugh Hopper
Patrice called to say Pip died today (27th August, 2006) at 2.00am in Paris. He played with Hatfield in Amsterdam. Richard says it was a great gig.
Jakko Jakszyk's amusing story about Pip Pyle

…Having fallen out with his other band members, not for the first time, Pip heads off to get drunk on his own. He finds a strange collection of really small bars in a nearby district of Tokyo. He starts in one and walks the down the small streets to the next. Eventually he sees one in the distance that has neon sign out side that says 'Pip's Bar'.

Obviously he makes a bee line for the place. He tells the proprietor that This is my bar. The owner, no doubt no stranger to drunks, humours him, but remains wary. Pip continues to call it 'His bar' to the continuing annoyance of the landlord. Eventually Pip gets his passport out and says That's me, my name's Pip.

To his astonishment the bar owner looks at the picture and ask's You Pip Pyle? You Pip Pyle! His face begins to light up.

Pip rather warily says Err yes.

The owner, unable to believe what's happened says, with increasing excitement this is your bar; I name it after you and proceeds to bring out various pieces of Hatfield and the North memorabilia…

Amyric Leroy
Dear fellow Rattlers, I'm too stunned to comment on this yet, but I've just been informed that Pip died last night. Apparently of "natural causes", at the Gare du Nord in Paris, on his way back from Hatfield's gig in Groningen on Saturday. What can I say? I guess nothing right now, except… What a shit year it's been!
daevid allen
Ahhh Pip! Yes our old mate came back to Paris from a top gig & died in a girl's arms. A heroic way to go but please…. better not to go just yet! He was a totally original drum warrior & golden jester, very much loved by all of us. His contribution to the Gong band & so many of my projects was without parallel. I loved him like the true brother he was. His unfinished music & inspiring physical courage, honesty & outrageous escapades will be HUGELY missed. I'm still laughing at those mad moments through the tears. Feeling deeply particularly for old pal Pam & son Sam & for all his familiars & allies. We all send him huge THANKS!!!
Brian Zero
What a shock! I always adored Pip's drumming on Camembert - such an intrinsic part of Gong. Having been on tour with him on the Shapeshifter tour across Europe I can testify he was one of the most sweetest and funniest guys you could wish to be on the road with. A wonderful drummer with a big big heart. I am stunned and choked… yes we love you Pip.
Michael Clare
…there was the day that i almost lost Pip at the shopping center outside of Portland, he didn't have his glasses and …. oh shit.
Keith Bailey
I called Graham (Clark). He was just as choked as me. Somehow we got to talking about the days and nights we spent together with Pip - crazy days, mad nights, joie de vivre, real fun, lurching, stumbling, giggling like lunatics, dancing like dervishes… the intensity, the inspiration… oh yes, he had an angle all right… All our memories are good ones, and you can't say that about too many people. I'll never forget you, mate. God bless.
Andy Bole
Pip will always be the Gong drummer for me, probably coz the first Gong album i bought was Camembert and its still my favourite Gong album now. I met him on a couple of occasions and he was a real gent, down to earth and a real pleasure to play with.
Rick Chafen
The older we get, the more this happens, but it doesn't get any easier. Pip was more than one of my most-favorite drummers. He was my friend for the last 28 years. Without recounting our entire history, I'd like to post a little anecdote that is now the last time I saw Pip. It was March, 1995, and I'd gone along on the GONG bus from Kansas City to Denver. The night after the gig, I was given the responsibility to get the rhythm section to the airport on time and, despite formidable obstacles, I had succeeded. There was some time before the flight and we were lounging and hanging about, variously. I saw Pip, walking OUT of the women's restroom. I told him that he'd reminded me of a line from Peter O'Toole' movie "My Favorite Year" which found him in a women's room. A woman enters the restroom and shrieks "This is for women only!" Peter O'Toole looks down and replied, "Well, so is this, but once in a while I have to run some water through it." Pip heard that and said, "No, Rick it's not like that at all. It's just that I meet a better quality person in the women's room than I ever did in the men's!" R.I.P. Pip. Enjoy that great big rock and roll party goin' on upstairs!
Rudy S
This is so very sad. 1st Elton Dean and now Pip Pyle who - if my memory serves we well - has a little child. It is no age for a superdrummer to leave this world. Times are a little tough - two Gong drummers that is no more among us. Tonight I am going to "Childrens Crusade"
Leo F
What a complete, utter shock to wake up to the news here at Planet Gong that Pip Pyle has passed away…I immediately thought of all the joy I've had listening to his fantastic drumming over the years, especially with National Health and, of course, the Gongsters. It's hard to believe that I just saw him play live for the first time this year with Hatfield & The North at Baja Prog and NEARfest - he certainly seemed in good health and all. With Pierre's passing, it would seem as if the "other dimension" is putting together one wicked good percussion section…. My heartfelt condolences to Pip's loved ones - Pip, I will always listen to your recordings with great fondness - may your journey be a fine one.
Harry C
Can`t find the words to express my shock and sadness at Pip leaving us. It's quite amazing when you stop and think how many records he played on, and how many of those are among my real favourites. I guess I`ll always remember Pip for the amount of work he did during the Gong 25th Birthday weekend. The Hatfields "Didn't matter anyway" always chokes me up but I`m playing it as I think it fits. Thanks Pip.
Jon H
Pip was one of my favourite drummers - especially his work with the Hatfields and Gong. I am very sad he has left us. I will listen to some of the everlasting music he made a little later today. RIP and thoughts to his friends and family.
If you stripped away all the instruments from Camembert Electrique and were just left with the drums, you'd be left with a magical musical experience of its own. A fabulous musician, many condolences to all family, friends, and admirers all over the world.
Gong was blessed with two of the best drummers in the world and to have lost both of them in a little over a year seems to much to believe. As you said harry he played on so many fine albums and with so many of the progressive/canterbury bands it seems impossible that he could be taken from us so suddenly. his legacy of music will live on with us tho and for this we can be gratefull. The scarey thing is neither pip nor pierre were what can be considered old. My thoughts go to his family and friends
This has really come as a shock. My thoughts go to his family and friends. I'll burn some incense and listen to "tried so hard" I know so many drummers who tell me that, that is the tune that inspired them to play drums.
Very sad to hear of Pip's passing. As well as seeing him on the Gong tours in the 90s I saw him a lot with In Cahoots often on quite intimate club venues. I would sit and watch him just kind of dancing around the kit, totally absorbed in a kind of meditative state, playing in and around the music in that unique, often delicate way of his. My heartfealt sympathies to all those who knew and loved him.
Oh dear - very sad to read this. Going to be a thoughtful night now… Pip was most definately my personal favorite drummer. His live performances inspired me - a good bloke… one of the greats.
Rob L
Pip was an inspired and a true musician. I listen to recordings he is playing on almost daily. The sheer humour and invention in his playing makes me smile. I met him once after a gig with National Health (supporting Steve Hillage in 197? - he signed an autograph for me - 'watch out for the stuffed bats' Thank you Pip - we will not forget you.
Botas del Gato
god bless Pip…this is sad news…I recall meeting him at the Knitting Factory in NYC while on tour with brainville…also got to drink a lager with him…such a great person…we will miss you in NYC …go with the wind,for i can always hear the beat of your drum
The Rotters' club and Camembert Electrique are the only two discs that have stayed with me since the first day I heard them, nearly 30 years ago now. Neither would have been the classic works of art they are, without the essential contribution of Pip Pyle. What you leave behind is what you are. Beautiful.
Steve Lake
I first heard Pip Pyle playing an electrifying version of Carla Bley's "Vashkar" with the Delivery band at the Roundhouse in 1970 - still remember the drive and the freedom of it. Later I got to know him well in the Gong/dawn of Hatfield time, and moved into Pip's famous flat/crashpad on the Upper Richmond Road where everything including the telephone was painted leaf green. (Pip favoured green clothes at the time and at one point dyed his hair green, blending into his living space like a hip chameleon…) With the exception of Robert Wyatt nobody ever made a better job of combining jazz intelligence and rock recklessness in drumming. A great player, whose energy fired up so many bands.
Mark Panman B.
am very sorry to hear of Pip's passing. I posted this interview with him on my website and this account of the recent New York Hatfield gig …an electrifying spirit - especially behind that drum kit!
Its difficult to express what I feel. But for me Gong has always related to presence - unlike most of the other music I love. Therefore it is extremely difficult to get used to the fact that not only one but two classic GONG drummers are not here anymore. It was such a surprise shock to read the sad news. And now that the great man was being active again with his old band…. For me Pip Pyle's name will always be related to my two alltime favorite Gong albums Camenbert and Shapeshifter… but if we somehow should find a optismic view of this alltime sad happening it must be that it is a nice invitation appraise and re-discover the great mans work. I think I will go and get "Belle Illusion"