For over fifty years, Brian Auger has been a musician’s musician as Hammond B3 innovator, pianist, bandleader, session man and key player in the rise of jazz/rock fusion. Auger has incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul and rock into an incredible catalog that has won him legions of fans all over the world.
Auger has played, toured, and recorded with many of the most influential musicians in modern times, including John McLaughlin, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, Steve Winwood, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Carlos Santana, Chaka Khan, Eddie Harris and Les McCann.
Playing in clubs, Auger won the Melody Maker Reader's Poll in the Jazz Piano and New Star categories in 1964 and was a known commodity in swingin’ London’s burgeoning music scene. Auger was intrigued with technique, and in 1965, inspired by organist Jimmy Smith, he decided to start playing the Hammond B3, an organ few British musicians could play, largely because the bulky organs were virtually non-existent in England at the time.
Auger teamed with bass player Rick Brown and drummer Mick Waller, and after a few singles, 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.
The Yardbirds called Auger for session work in June of 1965, and featuring his harpsichord intro, For Your Love went to number one, kicking off the Yardbirds recording career, and also making Brian an in-demand session man around London. In 1965, Brian’s exposure got a huge boost when he got call from singer Long John Baldry. Baldry had seen him play in a club in Manchester with an organ trio, and asked Brian to put a band together. Auger rounded up guitarist Vic Briggs, and Baldry enlisted Rod Stewart. Brian also recruited a young, mod singer named Julie Driscoll. The new band was a range of things from Nina Simone to Motown, where Rod was a mix of Chicago blues and Sam Cooke, says Brian. Long John was straight Chicago blues or gospel, and we all sang backup on the stage for everybody else and it turned out to be a huge success. If someone really played with a great deal of fire in those days, someone would say ‘that guy’s a steamer', so Steampacket became our name, explained Auger.