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Brian Auger's Oblivion Express

Brian Auger was raised in London, where he took up the keyboards as a child and began to hear jazz by way of the American Armed Forces Network and an older brother's record collection. By his teens, he was playing piano in clubs, and by 1962 he had formed the Brian Auger Trio with bass player Rick Laird and drummer Phil Knorra. In 1964, he won first place in the categories of "New Star" and "Jazz Piano" in a reader's poll in the Melody Maker music paper, but the same year he abandoned jazz for a more R&B-oriented approach and expanded his group to include John McLaughlin (guitar) and Glen Hughes (baritone saxophone) as the Brian Auger Trinity. This group split up at the end of 1964, and Auger moved over to Hammond B-3 organ, teaming with bass player Rick Brown and drummer Mickey Waller. After a few singles, he recorded his first LP on a session organized to spotlight blues singer Sonny Boy Williamson that featured his group, saxophonists Joe Harriott and Alan Skidmore, and guitarist Jimmy Page; it was Don't Send Me No Flowers, released in 1968.

By mid-1965, Auger's band had grown to include guitarist Vic Briggs and vocalists Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart, and Julie Driscoll, and was renamed Steampacket. More a loosely organized musical revue than a group, Steampacket lasted a year before Stewart and Baldry left and the band split. Auger retained Driscoll and brought in bass player Dave Ambrose and drummer Clive Thacker to form a unit that was billed as Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity. Their first album, Open, was released in 1967 on Marmalade Records (owned by Auger's manager, Giorgio Gomelsky), but they didn't attract attention on record until the release of their single, "This Wheel's on Fire," (music and lyrics by Bob Dylan and Rick Danko) in the spring of 1968, which preceded the appearance of the song on the Band's Music from Big Pink album. The disc hit the top five in the U.K., after which Open belatedly reached the British charts. Auger and the Trinity recorded the instrumental album Definitely What! (1968) without Driscoll, then brought her back for the double-LP, Streetnoise (1968), which reached the U.S. charts on Atco Records shortly after a singles compilation, Jools & Brian, gave them their American debut on Capitol in 1969. Driscoll quit during a U.S. tour, but the Trinity stayed together long enough to record Befour (1970), which charted in the U.S. on RCA Records, before disbanding in July 1970.

Auger put together a new band to play less commercial jazz-rock and facetiously called it the Oblivion Express, since he didn't think it would last; instead, it became his perennial band name. The initial unit was a quartet filled out by guitarist Jim Mullen, bass player Barry Dean, and drummer Robbie McIntosh. Their initial LP, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, was released in 1971, followed later the same year by A Better Land, but their first U.S. chart LP was Second Wind in June 1972, the album that marked the debut of singer Alex Ligertwood with the band. Personnel changes occurred frequently, but the Oblivion Express continued to figure in the U.S. charts consistently over the next several years with Closer to It! (August 1973), Straight Ahead (March 1974), Live Oblivion, Vol. 1 (December 1974), Reinforcements (October 1975), and Live Oblivion, Vol. 2 (March 1976). Meanwhile, Auger had moved to the U.S. in 1975, eventually settling in the San Francisco Bay area. In the face of declining sales, he switched to Warner Bros. Records for Happiness Heartaches, which charted in February 1977. Encore, released in April 1978, was a live reunion with Julie Tippetts (née Driscoll) that marked the end of Auger's association with major record labels, after which he dissolved the Oblivion Express and recorded less often. In 1990, he teamed up with former Animals singer Eric Burdon, and the two toured together during the next four years, releasing Access All Areas together in 1993. In 1995, Auger put together a new Oblivion Express. As of 2000, the lineup consisted of his daughter, Savannah, on vocals, Chris Clermont on guitar, Dan Lutz on bass, and his son Karma on drums. This group issued the album Voices of Other Times on Miramar Records one week before Auger's 61st birthday. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Comments

tinycoffee20 0 0
One of the reasons I am so grateful to Pandora...yo u cannot find BA or OE in print or on spotify..the s e are absolute classics.... I was 11 yrs old and I knew I was listening to something timeless and talented. This artist and his recordings are invaluable and probably the most precious to me. ::))
fkehn
It is 1976...I was fortunate to have an uncle who owned the Cleveland Agora and a friend with an older brother to beg me to go see Brian. My uncle got us a front table with our feet on the stage and my brothers friend said By the end of tonight you will love Brian Auger. Now I am in the mid Fifties and a live long 'Oblivion Express' fan.
BELMONDO used to cook
ellisswinton 8
I was introduced to Brian back in 1974. This sound was definitely before its time. The track (back to the beginning) is classic.
Where is SECOND WIND?
Their style of progressive jazz rock was often disparaged in the 60s as well as early 70s. I couldn't understand why so many of my friends would beg me to turn that weird stuff off. Closed minds chasing pop rock was annoying and I often was a pariah at parties for refusing to turn it off. Just ahead of their time. No other rock band is comparable in style !
Closer to It! is one of the greatest fusion jazz records of all time.
Richard King Brian Auger was the keyboard genius used to played on wchd,wjzz in the late 1970s.
Brian Auger is one of the best B-3 organ players ever. He is right up there with the likes of Jimmy Smith. Pushing 70 and still rockin on!
wcd1210
Brian Auger was the you know what back in the day baby!!!! Still jamming today!!!
Brian Auger is unfortunatel y one of the most under rated musicians of all time. He is a musical genius and even today would still wipe the floor with musical artists of today, if you can call what we are getting nowadays music. If you ever get the opportunity to see him play live, take it, its an experience you won't soon forget.
'Happiness Is Just 'Round The Bend' is one of my all time favorites.
Hey mike marino....so do i and Closer To It...great music to hear(my top band for the longest time)....lov e that B-3 sound Brian plays....... .
i have this record on vinyl
love hearin' BAOE every time.Once again to comment on great music.......
seen brian at the joint in the woods new jersey early 70s with great drummer steven ferrone who drummed on the strait ahead lp and the live lp too have some slides from that performance and even asked brian about john mcghlauglin said john could be more funky love john and brian
Sorry, have to comment again....LOV E THE B3 sound and Brian only enhances it whit his playing it.Can't get enough of BAOE!!!!!!
saw them in '74, commack arena with blue oyster cult and the strawbs....g r e a t show! bloody eardrums!
Saw the EXPRESS in CHI Town Aragon Ballroom summer of 69. I still have flash backs from the show.Julie was a show stopper.
brian auger one of lifes best keep secret
A good friend,back in the Mid 70's,had both albums(Close r To It and Straight Ahead-still have my two in really great shape.Ah vinyl)I have to thank him for turning me on to such a talented musician.Thi s group is still my top favorite.I even recorded both albums to a casette and i've worn it out-need to record them to cd.Every time i listen to his music, i'm reminded of the fun great times i experienced. + 1 to what everyone else has said.
What a talent. Saw him in a small jazz club in Cleveland 2x. He plays here often.
justastaffer
BA & OE is playing in Columbus, Ohio (stops here freq.) this Tuesday night 07 Sept. 2010......be there or be square!!
aokub
Grew up listening to Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, even after 35 yrs, it still brings tears to my eyes, would like to see him life in concert.
This dude is awesome. I've always enjoyed his records. I sure wish he would tour more, unfortunatel y he's one of the few greats that I've never gotten the chance to see live. I sure would love to check him out live... Just looked him up on Pollstar's website and he's coming to California in July. I've got it in the calendar. :-)
frankbmarino
Super smooth always loved their sound. Robbie Mcntosh wow !
BA is clearly one of the most gifted, talented keyboardists of all time. His work on B3 rivals the work of Charles Earland, and he is in my top five keyboard soloists, a list that includes Chic, Herbie, McCoy, and Alex. He is at his best live. I just wish he would do more in the U.S. particulaly in NY or Tri-state area.
georgec6
great cover of traffic's "No time to live"
Brian is awesome! It's a shame he's not gotten the recognition he deserves.
I remember this group. It's been a long time. Good to hear again.
Just saw them in concert and his daughter Savannah sings and his son Karma plays the drums...real l y cool concert in Pittsburgh!!

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