Musical Biography of Neil Pike

Neil Pike’s first exposure to show business came when he won a twisting competition at the age of five.  Having reached such dizzying heights at such an early age (and having only won a lousy Hoadley’s Violet Crumble Bar for his trouble), he decided to give up dancing and concentrate on music.  By his late teens, he’d “turned on, tuned in & dropped out” and was hitch-hiking up and down the east coast of Australia with a backpack, a 12 string guitar and a swag of self-penned hippy anthems.

In 1975, he formed the acoustic band Flying Fish and spent a couple of years plying the vegetarian restaurant & New Age (though it wasn’t called that back then) conference & festival circuit.  Probably the height of this period was an appearance at the 1976 Cotter Down To Earth Festival and  an early experiment in video production at the Watter’s Gallery in Darlinghurst. By late ’77, Neil was pining for his beloved rainforest and hitch hiked back to the north coast, moving seasonally between the twin magnetic poles of Nimbin & Cedar Bay.
With the birth in a Kombi van of his eldest son Romany (still an active member of the Pagan Love Cult) in 1978, Neil settled permanently in Nimbin.  Meeting up with fellow musician & singer Peter Pix (also still a PLC player), Neil formed the psychedelic folk-rock band Star Ring (yes, we know it’s a godawful name but Floyd Davis, the conga player insisted and he owned the truck and had a hairy chest).  The next few years was a haze of north coast mushroom-fuelled full moon parties, hippy festivals & Save the Forest environmental protests, broken only by regular busking runs to Sydney’s Kings Cross so as to help finance the ongoing lotus-munching lifestyle.  During one of these sortes, Neil encountered the notorious NSW detective Roger Rogerson who attempted to recruit him as a “snout”.  Recognising Roger for what he was, Neil decided it was time to “get the hell out of Kings Cross”. Star Ring recorded and released one album, “Cauldron”.
LIke everyone else, Neil sold out in the 1980s… or at least attempted to.  With Peter PIx and Tim Tonkin (another member of Star Ring), he formed an 80s-style pop group called Secret Society and worked very hard for several years trying to gain some measure of commercial success.  By 1988, they’d played extensively up and down the East coast pub-rock circuit, appeared on the classic Australian pop TV show Countdown (the only unsigned act to have done so), been signed to a publishing deal by Warners Music, released the “first independant CD in the world” (which just means they were stupid enough to spend their publishing advance on it), received a 2 page spread in the “Australian” newspaper about Neil’s innovative use on stage of a macintosh computer, supported Joe Cocker at the Brisbane World Expo’88 to a crowd of some 40,000 people… and yet still remained essentially broke.

Neil & Pete realised that enough was enough and decided to start playing music they actually liked again.  For a brief time, they formed a satirical duo, pretending to be musical New Age channellers Lothario & Cagliostro… (“we always thought it was the mushrooms until we stopped taking ’em”) and released the album “From Lemuria To Lismore”.

Upon realising that most of their audience was taking them seriously, Neil formed the Pagan Love Cult inc… a band with cultic undertones or a cult with musical overtones, they could never decide which.  Whatever the case, they’ve since beome the longest-running psychedelic music act in Australia… a veritable institution (in both senses of the word).

In the following years, Neil released a critically acclaimed multimedia CD-ROM to virtually no sales at all; toured the US West Coast (in 1997 & 2004), playing festivals & gigs; was invited by famed internet expert & cultural commentator Doug Rushkoff to participate in a cyber conference in Budapest in 1998 (which was streamed live on the internet… then a relatively new phenomena); criss-crossed the Indian sub-continent multiple times recording and making videos for the Rainforest Information Centre; toured Europe & the UK several times performing at festivals & clubs; was “artist in residence” briefly at Shumacher College; recorded & released an album and many video clips by the Pagan Love Cult; wrote. edited & directed (or co-directed) several award-winning documentaries; spoke and gave workshops at various conferences both in Australia & overseas (on topics ranging from environmental activism to entheogenic extremism with several detours into the internet’s effect on the entertainment industry); and helped care for his octogenarian father for 5 years. During the latter period Neil & the Pagan Love Cult’s performances were limited to annual gigs at the notorious Nimbin MardiGrass and the SE Queensland boutique electronic music festival, Earth Frequency.
More recently, he has toured the UK & Europe in 2014 & 2016 playing at the Green Gathering and various other festivals & shows. He has also recorded a soon to be released new album. Through all this, he has somehow managed to maintain his solipsistic existence, stay involved with a range of activist causes and still keep his sense of humour. He is an active proponent of Optimistic Cynicism™