Brian Auger Recalls Rejecting Jimi Hendrix Twice
British rock and jazz legend Brian Auger recalled the two occasions on which he rejected the chance to work with Jimi Hendrix, saying he didn’t regret his decisions.
Auger was already a well-known name on the London music scene when Hendrix arrived from the U.S. in 1966. The American’s manager, former Animals bassist Chas Chandler, wanted him to join Auger’s band Trinity, which featured singer Julie Driscoll.
“I declined as I was happy with Julie as vocalist and Vic Briggs on guitar,” Auger told The Guardian in a recent interview. “So Chas asked if his guy could sit in with the band – we were playing the Cromwellian, a very chic, late-night club – and I said I’d make a decision once I met him.” When Hendrix appeared to be “a nice guy, quite shy,” Auger let him take part in the band’s second set. “As the Cromwellian was one of the few places where you could legally drink after hours, it was filled with musicians. When Jimi began to play, boy, he just about set fire to the club, and Eric Clapton turned incredibly pale!”
As Hendrix and Auger followed separate career paths, they met again in the U.S. in 1970. “His skin tone – and that of his girlfriend – was grey, really unhealthy looking,” Auger said of his friend. “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.’”
Auger went on to experience career highs and lows, and he’s just released an archive compilation after winning a legal battle for ownership of his catalog. “Nowadays my son’s my drummer and my daughter’s my vocalist,” he reported. “It’s a family affair, and we love to go out there and keep the music alive.”
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