March 2007:
Brian Auger

see his biography and discography, click here!

picture of James Simpson Brian tells his story
how he came to the organ:

In 1964, I was passing my Record Store in Shepherds Bush Market in London U.K., where I was born. On the loudspeakers outside the store, I heard the most amazing sound of an instrument I did not recognise. I went in and asked to see the record they were playing. They showed me the cover to the Blue Note Records release of Jimmy Smith- Back at the Chicken Shack. I immediately bought the album and was amazed at how exciting a Jazz sound could be made by the Hammond Organ. I had come up on the Jazz scene in London, and was already appearing at London's new and Premier Jazz Venue the Ronnie Scott Club playing Jazz Piano. I was also playing with my piano trio at the Flamingo Club,not far from Ronnie's, and the Flamingo began to feature R&B bands with some Hammond players, and others with Lowry, Thomas, Bird, and Vox Continental Organs. The best of these groups was Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, who was playing a Hammond M2. Georgie's Manager, Rik Gunnell, was always advising me to buy an organ, but I was very attached to the piano, and subsequently won the Melody Maker Magazine Jazz Piano Readers Poll. In the summer of 1964, Georgie fell asleep on the beach, and was taken to hospital with severe sunburn. I got a frantic call from his manager, Rik, asking me to play Georgie's gigs for the next two weeks. I agreed, thinking I would be playing Piano. Upon arriving at the Roaring Twenties Club in Carnaby Street for the first concert, I was alarmed to find out that there was no piano, and I would have to play Georgie's Hammond. I had no idea how to set the drawbars, and the only thing I could think to do,was to try to make the machine sound as near to a Jimmy Smith organ sound as I could. Over the next couple of days I managed to make myself really comfortable, and I found that I really had a natural feel for the organ, and many people asked me how long I had been playing the Hammond, and were really surprised when I told them " Three Days". Georgie's date sheet was exhausting, as we were playing two and three shows a day in different venues. After two weeks of this "Baptism of Fire," I decided that I had to buy a Hammond. I saved my money and in early 1965 bought an L 100 model, and tried to get it to sound like Jimmy Smith. I realised that this wasn't possible.
A friend of mine came back from New York, and brought me a copy of Jimmy Mcgriff "Live at the Apollo". On the record cover he was sitting at a huge Hammond. I went to my Hammond Distributor in London and showed them the Album. They told me that the organ was a B3 Hammond, and there were none in England. They agreed to call Hammond in the USA to see how I could get one. Hammond said that they could ship the parts to England where it could be assembled. This would take 10 weeks. I had already started a band with Long John Baldry, an unknown Rod Stewart, and unknown Julie Driscoll. The band was called the Steampacket. I got my B3 Hammond, and my career has never looked back.
Brian Auger
Brian has also produced an audio file speaking about his way to the Hammond organ. Click the PLAY button to listen to Brian !


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