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Brian Auger & The Trinity

Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll (Jools) first came together in early 1965, as members of Steampacket, a self-contained touring revue show that also featured Long John Baldry and a young Rod Stewart.

Auger had been around since the early 1960s, where he led Trinity and played the London jazz club circuit as it morphed into R&B.

Driscoll had worked as a secretary in manager Giorgio Gomelsky’s office, where she answered The Yardbirds‘ fan mail, among other duties. But the 17-year-old both looked and sounded like a star, and Gomelsky was adamant that she fulfil that potential.

Dynamic on stage, Steampacket should have been enormous, but complicated with three sets of management and four different record labels, the group was doomed from the outset.

The group broke up in 1966 and Auger decided to strip back down to basics and form a new Trinity.

The original Trinity of Clive Thacker (drums), Roger Sutton (bass) and Vic Briggs (guitar) lasted just a couple of months in early 1967 before Briggs left for the New Animals and Gary Boyle replaced him.

This short-lived lineup recorded just one single, Tiger, before Dave Ambrose replaced Sutton.

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Driscoll reappeared on the scene and the augmented Trinity established a firm underground following with regular gigs through late 1967. When Gomelsky got his Marmalade label up and running, the Brian Auger Trinity featuring Julie Driscoll was an obvious early recruit.

Trinity had completed its debut album (Open) in just six hours. The band took over Chappell Studios for a day, recruited a group of friends to supply some atmosphere and tore through their live set.

The best of the ensuing recordings – five songs featuring Driscoll, five starring the band alone – were slapped side-by-side onto the disc, and it was slated for release in mid-November 1967.

A new Trinity single, Black Cat, proved popular enough for Auger to record a new Italian-language vocal for release. But it was Save Me that mapped out the group’s immediate future; it stepped into the breach left by the album’s non-appearance and become an immediate hit in France.

By the time Open finally hit the stores, the band had released their follow-up single, a majestic take on Donovan‘s Season of The Witch. They also took time off in Paris to visit the Pigalle Studio, where they cut the next single, a spooky version of Dylan‘s I Am A Lonesome Hobo. By early spring, Trinity had three French hits to its name.

That next single was to be an eerie re-recording of another Bob Dylan song, This Wheel’s On Fire, then familiar only from the Basement Tapes demo tape that was going the rounds. It was to become one of the most memorable hits of the year.

From a comfortable underground niche somewhere on the fringes of the psychedelic movement, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity suddenly were the hottest band in the land. Driscoll’s photograph was everywhere as Flower Power’s first bona fide sex symbol.

The band was scarcely off the screens throughout the summer. The group logged its first Top Of The Pops appearance on 6 June; two weeks later, on Beat Club, the band recorded the performance that today is familiar from so many video and DVD compilations.

The band also took a cameo role in the movie Popdown, a pop-sploitation flick in which a group of aliens led by Zoot Money “pop down” to earth to check out the local music scene. Money’s Dantalian’s Chariot, The Trinity and Marmalade labelmates Blossom Toes await them, together with a 21-year-old Diane Keen in her own movie debut.

The film was cut to under an hour in length before it reached the cinemas; Auger doesn’t even remember making it.

The single Road to Cairo was the next to hit the charts. The band performed the song on Tony Blackburn’s TV show on 9 November and was co-billed (alongside The Alan Price Set) on a special edition of BBC2’s Colour Me Pop, live from the Fairfield Hall in Croydon on 23 November. Trinity also appeared on the Eamonn Andrews Show, one of the most prestigious – and influential – entertainment programs on at the time.

Less than a month later, Auger served notice of his intention to quit, Driscoll delivered the same message.

To prepare themselves for what seemed an inevitable split, the remainder of Trinity set about recording its own album, an eclectic brew dominated by Auger’s haunting organ and previewed with a single containing a radical reworking of The BeatlesA Day In The Life.

Definitely What? was released in April 1969 to much applause but few sales.

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Driscoll rejoined the Trinity in the studio in early 1969, with just two weeks in which to record the next album before heading off to America for their first tour.

With no new material prepared, Auger and Driscoll were writing songs in the studio while they were also rehearsing the covers they had earmarked. It was a frenetic period, but the band recorded sufficient material for two LPs.

Streetnoise was released in April as a double album, 16 songs without a moment of filler.

Auger and Driscoll found themselves in California in 1969, filming 33 and a Third Monkees Per Revolution, an hour-long Monkees TV special that was America’s first exposure to the Trinity. The band was signed to Atlantic’s Atco subsidiary for the US, labelmates to Cream and The Bee Gees.

Open was scheduled for an American release the week before the Monkees’ show aired; Streetnoise would follow in May.

In the meantime, a string of East Coast shows included appearances in Philadelphia, Chicago and New York – where they became the only band, bar Jimi Hendrix, ever to receive two encores. Then they winged across to the West Coast to hook up with Led Zeppelin.

But Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger fell out with manager Giorgio Gomelsky in the offices of the Premier Talent Agency in New York with Driscoll walking out of the room . . . and out of the band.

It was two years before Driscoll was heard from again when she cut the oddly-titled 1969 album. Auger bade farewell to the Trinity with one final album, Befour, then moved on to Oblivion Express.

Julie Driscoll
Vocals, guitar
Brian Auger
Keyboards, vocals
Vic Briggs 
Guitar
Gary Boyle
Guitar, vocals
Roger Sutton 
Bass
Dave Ambrose
Bass, vocals
Rick Laird
Bass
Ricky Brown
Bass
Clive Thacker
Drums
Phil Kinorra
Drums
Micky Waller 
Drums