The keys wizard played with Rod Stewart and turned down Hendrix but has never enjoyed the renown of his peers. At 82, on the cusp of a new reissue collection, his passion is undimmed
The last time Brian Auger met Jimi Hendrix was at a New York recording studio in 1970. “His skin tone – and that of his girlfriend – was grey, really unhealthy looking,” Auger recalls. “He asked me to stay and help him on a recording project – his Electric Ladyland studio was being built at the time. Sadly, I had to decline. I had all these dates booked I couldn’t cancel. Then he took this silver foil out of his pocket, took a whiff and offered it to me. I refused, saying, ‘I don’t do any of that stuff.’ Jimi replied, ‘Brian, I should have more people like you around me.’”
Never a truer word spoken: at 82, Brian Auger is a picture of good health, fine humour and energetic creativity. Auger is a London Zelig of sorts – a musician whose connections and creativity saw him serve as a pivotal figure in the centre of what are now fondly considered the Swinging 60s’ jazz, blues and rock scenes – yet he’s best remembered, if at all, for This Wheel’s on Fire, the 1968 Top 5 hit that he and Julie Driscoll scored with a then-unreleased Bob Dylan song. Said tune ended up providing the theme music for Absolutely Fabulous, ensuring Auger’s enduring status as an answer in pub quizzes – while reinforcing the sense that he was a one-hit wonder.
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