Brian Albert Gordon Auger (born 18 July 1939) is an English jazz rock and rock music keyboardist who specializes in the Hammond organ.
Auger has worked with Rod Stewart, Tony Williams, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Burdon. He incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul music, and rock into his sound. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award.
In 1965, Auger played on “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds as a session musician. That same year, Auger formed the group The Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, and Rod Stewart. Due to contractual problems there were no official recordings made by the band; nevertheless, nine tracks were laid down for promotional use in late 1965 and released on a CD by Repertoire Records in 1990 (licensed from Charly Records) as well as 12 live tracks from Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2, 1964. Stewart left in early 1966 and soon thereafter the band broke up.
With Driscoll and the band Trinity, he went on to record a cover version of David Ackles’ “Road to Cairo” and Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”, which appeared on Dylan Covered. In 1969 Auger, Driscoll, and Trinity performed in the United States on the NBC special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.
In 1970, he formed the jazz fusion ensemble Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express shortly after abandoning the abortive “Wassenaar Arrangement” jazz rock commune in a small suburb of The Hague. Oblivion Express cultivated the talents of several notable musicians, including Average White Band drummers Robbie McIntosh and Steve Ferrone, as well as guitarist Jim Mullen. In 1971 he produced and appeared on Mogul Thrash’s only album, Mogul Thrash. Two members of that band, Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan, would go on to form the Average White Band.
Auger toured with Kim Simmonds, Gregg Errico, and Tim Bogert in the mid 1980s in a band they called Maestro. No album resulted from this collaboration and tour. In 1986, he played keyboards for the Italian singer Mango on the album Odissea.
Brian Auger after a show at the Cabaret de Monte-Carlo with bassist-arranger Pino Presti in 2006
In 1989, Auger was musical director for the thirteen-part film retrospective series Villa Fantastica made for German TV. A live recording of the series, Super Jam (1990), features Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass guitar, and singers Zoot Money and Maria Muldaur.
Auger toured with Eric Burdon in the early 1990s and recorded the live album Access All Areas with him in 1993. Oblivion Express was revived in 2005 with recording and touring. The group featured Brian Auger, his son Karma Auger on drums, his daughter Savannah Auger on vocals, and Derek Frank on bass.
In 2012, Auger released Language of the Heart, one of the few solo albums of his career, produced by Tea. It features Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Julian Coryell on guitars.
In 2014, Auger was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, David Paich, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Salvador Santana, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Spencer Davis. This major recording project is due for release in 2019.
In 2014 Brian Auger and Oblivion Express played at the KJAZZ festival in Los Angeles and toured in Japan and Europe with Karma Auger on drums, daughter Ali Auger on vocals, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Yarone Levy on guitar, Les King on bass, and Travis Carlton on bass. (by wikipedia)
Originally released in 1977, and reissued on CD by Wounded Bird, Happiness Heartaches is a rock solid date by the Oblivion Express. Along with Brian Auger’s gigantic musical personality, the set is also driven in equal part by former Miles Davis and Return To Forever drummer Lenny White, as well as percussionist Lennox Laington. Rhythm is the key to groove, and it is displayed here in overdrive. This is “groove jazz” with teeth, and a deeply funky and welcome alternative to the increasing presence of disco drum machines in jazz recordings. And make no mistake, Happiness Heartaches is a jazz record, a claim many of the era’s jazzmen who were recording cannot hope to claim, so complete was their cave in to disco’s chart influence. “Spice Island,” with its languid vocal line and melody, influenced by Airto and Flora to be sure, but also by Leon Thomas’ solo recordings, is a case in point. Auger’s contrapuntal solo coming as a tag off the vocal and being played foil to by Jack Mills’ guitar is simply sublime. On “Gimme A Funky Beat,” the band takes the notion of Brazilian Carnaval into overdrive, with a rollicking bassline by Clive Chaman.
Alex Ligertwood’s vocals leave a bit to be desired, as he is clearly not a jazz singer, but they aren’t too irritating. The set ends with a tour de force by Auger entitled “Paging Mr. McCoy,” a keyboard orgy propelled by the rhytmnatist’s percussion team. It’s full of crescendos, stops, starts, and side passages (like a beautiful, sped-up quote from the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”) as well as regal overtones. The only real complaint is a consistent one regarding Wounded Bird’s reissues: rather than recasting and re-contextualizing the original cover art, they just shrink it, and there are no liner notes, making for a shoddy little package. Nevertheless, the music’s the important thing, so despite the real lack of aesthetics shown by the label visually, this is certainly a welcome addition to ever Brian Auger collection. (by Thom Jurek)
Oh yes, this is the funky side of Brian Auger !
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Clive Chaman (bass)
Lennox Langton (percussion)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar)
Jack Mills (guitar)
Lenny White (drums, percussion)
01. Back Street Bible Class (Auger) 5.28
02. Spice Island (Mills/Auger) 8.56
03. Gimme A Funky Break (Ligertwood) 4.39
04. Never Gonna Come Down (Chaman) 5.34
05. Happiness Heartaches (Dennison/Ligertwood) 5.14
06. Got To Be Born Again (Langton) 4.18
07. Paging Mr. McCoy (Auger) 4.30