Interview with BRIAN AUGER

April 2019

There are organists – and there’s Brian Auger, a keyboard player unto himself. Or one could say so if there wasn’t a whole array of top-class musicians who came out of the institutions Brian’s bands have always been – because pushing boundaries while remaining faithful to tradition is what Auger does. Even now, at 80. And he’s still having fun doing it. Be it with TRINITY or OBLIVION EXPRESS, with Julie Driscoll or his children, operating Hammond B3 or Steinway, the ivories veteran never tires of finding new ways to be relevant – and not for the sake of timelessness, but for sheer joy of living in the moment and sharing this moment with others. We spoke shortly before the artist’s four-score anniversary, prior to his show that might blow the roof off Toronto’s “Hugh’s Room” – the club Brian’s ensemble inhabited for the evening – and you should know: Auger carries on touring with no care of what category the listeners place him in. It’s all music, says the legendary performer.

– Brian, I’ve always maintained that it’s rhythm-and-blues that you play; some people suggest it’s jazz. What would you say?

I’d say it’s music. This is the thing, man: I came up as a jazz piano player in London, and I heard a guy called Jimmy Smith playing the B3, the big organ, and that changed my ideas around. And I also made a lot of friends, because in the ’60s everybody knew everyone and everyone jammed together – didn’t matter whether it was rock, R&B, jazz or whatever – and I joined into that circle. Then I heard Duke Ellington who played in England many years ago: he was interviewed by somebody on the BBC, and the lady asked him, “What kind of music do you like?” And Duke said, “Oh, there’s only two types of music – good and bad.” Eureka! I found! (Laughs.) That’s exactly how I think of it.

I like good music, and it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s classical music or anything else: it’s all music, and it all has some kind of spirit or power, and I just like to record and play the things that I like, and I’ve always done that. It’s certainly eclectic, and it’s difficult for the record companies to put me in a pigeonhole, so sometimes I’ve been into a record store – when record stores existed – and I’d find my records in the “Pop” category (laughs), other ones would be in the “R&B” section and other ones in the “Soul” bin, and some of them would be in “Jazz”! I think if you’d put all of that together, it’s probably drawing from all those energies.

– There are Money, Fame, Bond, Price – meaning your fellow keyboard players Zoot, Georgie, Graham and Alan – so your last name didn’t quite fit. Were you ever tempted to take a pseudonym?

I know all of those guys, but I wasn’t tempted to do anything except to play the music that I like, and I found that as being fairly difficult sometimes! (Laughs.) I’ve always managed to keep myself alive, though, and make a living and bring up my three children without becoming a millionaire or anything like that. The great thing about it is that I play the music that I want to play with the people I want to play with, so I’m happy.


– Now I understand why you keep on playing “Freedom Jazz Dance” year after year: it summarizes your very spirit.

It does. It’s also a tribute to Eddie Harris, a guy who I listened to and was influenced by in terms of writing. But when I first met him, I asked him, “This tune, ‘Freedom Jazz Dance,’ has got such a strange melody. How the hell did you come up with that?” And he said to me, “Well, it wasn’t supposed to be a tune; it was supposed to be a saxophone exercise in fourths!” (Sings) “Ba-bam-ba-pa-ba – pa-ba-ba-ba – ba-ba-ba-ba”: they’re fourths. He says, “You’ve got to play more of my music, Brian.” And I say, “Whoa, you’ve got to write a lot more exercises, then!” (Laughs.) So I do it as a tribute to Eddie, and also because I still enjoy playing that.

– But you added lyrics to this tune. Is it a continuation of that freedom?

Yes, exactly. Exactly. I must admit I have been very free to do what I like. I suppose if I wanted to make a lot of money, I could have done that in the ’60s or whatever if I’d just fallen into… This is the situation. THE TRINITY that I put together – it means a union of three – was my jazz trio first of all, and that stuck when it became THE TRINITY and Julie Driscoll. Julie loved Nina Simone and also listened to different people, so she asked me, “Can we play this tune?” There was always a stretch to find a way to arrange it so it was interesting for everybody, and I was trying to have a bridge between the jazz scene and the burgeoning music scene that had R&B in it – people like THE YARDBIRDS, THE BEATLES and THE STONES – trying to take the rhythmic side of that, which attracts people, and build on it some different harmony, some new harmony.

We were the first people, Julie and I, to open as a headliner the Berlin Jazz Festival in 1968. That was such a conservative festival, so it was pretty strange that we were topping the bill, but then the same thing happened in Rome that year, in Zurich. But in Berlin we were dressed right from the Chelsea antique market and I was following Dizzy Gillespie, the big band – it was wonderful – and when we went on out there, fifty people in the audience out of about three thousand stood up and started to shout, “Get off!” They were upset, although we hadn’t play yet, so I said to them, in German, “If you don’t like my clothes, that’s fine, but until you’ve heard my music you have no right to boo.” The rest of the audience was cheering and booing them, and the festival director came up to me and said, “This is great. This will be great for the newspapers!” (Laughs.) Completely crazy! But that was it. It was like the barriers between things were coming down. Then, in 1970, when I wanted to develop this music further, I started THE OBLIVION EXPRESS which hasn’t reached oblivion yet, obviously.

– Speaking of bridges: when did add you a quote from Grieg to “Freedom Jazz Dance”? I seem to hear a bit of “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” there.

It’s just a quote, yeah. It’s one of those melodies in the back of your mind that you’ve known forever, so you’re playing away and all of a sudden it comes out. Music’s a very funny thing: when you’re soloing, there are magic nights when it’s just like, “Wow! Who is playing this?” You have the experience of watching your own fingers play and you know you can’t make a mistake tonight. (Laughs.) And the music, it’s improvised and everything, and anything may happen, and the only way I can express that is that it’s like a radio signal, and sometimes you’re dialing right in and from somewhere in the Universe comes this improvisation and different stuff. I wish I knew what that was but it doesn’t matter, actually – it’s just magic. Music is magic.

All this stuff is energy. In the macrocosm is the energy of the Universe (laughs); in the microcosm, if you look at it, there is also a universe – I think we have the imprint of the Universe within us, and at certain point we strike this kind of vibration and energy in whatever we’re doing, and ideas just come through, man. And some nights I have to labor, because I can’t hear properly or whatever it is, but those are the magic moments – those are the ones you aim for.

– You mentioned your bands. It first it was THE TRINITY and you were part of that trio; then, it was you and that trio; afterwards, it was you, Julie and THE TRINITY; and then, you formed THE OBLIVION EXPRESS. In the last two decades, the line got blurred, though: sometimes you’re billed as THE TRINITY and sometimes as THE OBLIVION EXPRESS. So where does this line go?

Brian Auger and THE TRINITY
with Julie Driscoll

There’s no line, man. The band that was called THE TRINITY, with Julie, was basically finished in 1969. By 1970, that bridge had been established – we’d played all the jazz festivals with this type of music – and I wanted to push on and try to expose whatever there was in this kind of mix of things. Of course, if you had a hit – and we did: Number One in England and hits all over Europe – the record company wanted to keep you in that little avenue, so you produce for them; well, that’s too bad, you know, and I didn’t want to do that. So I made THE OBLIVION EXPRESS – so called because I thought, “Now I’m going completely against the commercial tide and, therefore, maybe I’m headed the quickest way to oblivion.” (Laughs.) And the trains rolls on to this day: I’m still trying to put one foot in front of the other and get better as a musician. I think you can’t just stand still.

– I was amazed by "Full Circle": your piano trio album was something unexpected, from both arrangements and repertoire point of view.

It was unexpected for me, too! I’ve always played piano in the middle of my music: as I said, I came up playing jazz piano; I won the “Melody Maker Readers’ Poll” for piano in 1964 or something like that; and later on, in 1970, I won the readers’ poll in “Rock & Folk” magazine in Germany – I was the first person to win two categories simultaneously, the “Rock Organ” and the “Jazz Organ” categories. None of this stuff makes any difference to what you want to do, really, but I had a patch in the ’80s where, if you mentioned jazz to the record companies, the doors slammed in your face, and so for eleven years I went on playing with different people and doing TV things like [Pete York’s German programme] “Super Drumming” – but I was having a good time anyway. And then, in 1995, I managed to get all my masters back from everybody, which was tough – it was a struggle (laughs) – and I started THE OBLIVION EXPRESS again, with my son Karma and my two daughters singing with us in different periods. I just tried to make the best music I can possibly make.

But recently, we played a very nice club called “Bogies” in Los Angeles, in Westlake, and the guy who is their entertainment manager is also a good piano player. So he called me up and said, “Listen, Brian, I’ve got this project in mind that I want to do: I want to put a different piano trio – jazz trio – every night for a week. Would you like to start the week?” I said, “That’s great. I’d love to do that,” but I wasn’t thinking about recording anything. I spoke to Karma about it, and he said, “That’s good, dad, yeah. Let’s get Dan Lutz on upright bass, he’s a great player.” So we agreed, and only then I asked my son, “Should we record this?” “Nah, I’m a bit rusty,” he said. “Well, you are a bit rusty,” I said. “But I’ve been playing digital piano for years, and there’s a real piano – a big beautiful Steinway – it’s something else!” So we decided to leave it at that and go and have some fun. But after we’d played the whole evening, he handed me a thumb drive with a recording of it saying, “You never know, dad. There might be one or two tracks that were okay.” Then we went through it, and I went, “Wow! The first all-piano album I’ve ever made!” (Laughs.)

And the reason I chose those pieces of music is, I’m sure jazz people would know them: some of them I’d never played before, but some of them I’d played for a long time and I just enjoyed doing that. So that was it; that’s how it came about. It was a kind of an accident, like everything is.

Yeah, because… You mentioned “Bumpin’ On Sunset”: it’s something I heard for the first time when we were in London, and every weekend we used to get together in this basement in Askew Road, in Shepherd’s Bush, with some friends of ours. We’d bring different records, and somebody put on “Tequila” which is a Wes Montgomery album; “Bumpin’ On Sunset” came on, and I just went, “Oh my God!” It hit me right here (shows between his eyes and laughs). “I’ve got to record that.” And it’s a thing that’s stayed with me, but it’s also stayed with my audiences, and people want to hear it. To me, there’s such an atmosphere that comes from that tune, and a lot of new things do come out of it. It’s just a great piece to play.

– Still, you re-record some of your pieces from time to time. Other artists do that to recapture their former glory, but when you cut a new version of “Bumpin’ On Sunset” or whatever, I always have a feeling that you’re searching for a new context to shine a light on something in this music that you’ve never highlighted before. Is it so?

OBLIVION EXPRESS

People liked it when Miles Davis recorded stuff again, and when you hear it you go, “That’s fantastic! It’s a different solo, it’s a different idea.” If I re-record something, it’s never the same as the thing I did previously, and it shows a step onwards. And that was the thing about Miles: this guy would go from one step to the next – you’ve got “Birth Of The Cool” and then “Milestones,” then “Kind Of Blues” and “Seven Steps To Heaven,” then “Porgy And Bess” and “Sketches Of Spain”… It was like, “Wow, this guy!” What he’s doing is also showing you his movement forward as a musician, and that was something that I’ve always felt was very important to try and do if you can.

– Miles had a composition titled “John McLaughlin” – and you played with McLaughlin very early on, right?

Yeah, we knew each other from when we were about 18 years old. We both lived in London, and every weekend we would go out and play for the U.S. Army bases or air-force bases; they always had a club like an NCOs club, an Officers club or whatever the ranks were, and they always booked music. So we did the rounds out there, and that was good. John was part of the band I had in “The Pigalle” in 1965, but we just played gigs together, and it wasn’t exactly a band thing until rock ‘n’ roll had generated these bands where you’d have the same personnel. I have always thought it was a great idea because you could all move forward in a great way, so I formed a trio and calked it THE BRIAN AUGER TRINITY, and we played “Ronnie Scott’s” under that name.

By the way, the first date I did when I bought an organ was in “The Green Man” in South London, and John was part of that. He was a phenomenal player from the beginning: I’ve always thought I hadn’t heard anybody that good in Europe. So when my manager Giorgio Gomelsky got some money from the record company and asked, “Who shall I record?” I said, “John McLaughlin!” [Gomelsky would produce McLaughlin’s first album, “Extrapolation.” – DME] Little did I know that John would go to play with Tony Williams [in LIFETIME. – DME] who I met and played with later on, and that Williams would introduce him to Miles, and suddenly there we are! (Laughs.) Just amazing!

– You had your own trio and then kind of abandoned it to be part of STEAMPACKET. Why? You wanted to break through commercially?

STEAMPACKET:
Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger

I didn’t leave my own band, as a matter of fact: I could play with them or I could play with STEAMPACKET. But [Long] John Baldry, who was the best blues singer in England at the time, came into a club where I was playing with my organ trio and said, “Look, I need somebody to be the band leader and run the band.” So we had a meeting where I was asked if I was interested in working with John, because he wanted to work with me, and I said, “Of course.” Then he said, “I’ve got another guy that I want to come in the band; his name is Rod Stewart.” Well, I’d seen Rod around the scene and I think he’d sat in with me a couple of times, so it wasn’t a problem with me. But I asked, “What kind of band is this? With two male singers, is it a kind of Sam and Dave Review?” (Laughs.) “No, no, no,” he said. “What do you think?” I said, “It’s easy enough to put a rhythm section together but maybe… I just did some recordings with a girl called Julie Driscoll; why don’t you invite her in? We’d have three singers: there’s nothing like that on the scene.” He asked, “How would all this work?” I said, “I could play an instrumental by Jimmy Smith or whatever; then Julie could come on, and she’s got such a wide spectrum of music that she likes, Tamla Motown and so on, and I could sing back-up for her; then Rod comes on and does his Sam Cooke impersonation, and Julie and I could sing back-up for Rod; then you come on and we could do straight Chicago blues and also some gospel stuff. It would be the whole spectrum of everything.” And that worked very, very well.

– So by pure chance, you started working with a female vocalist. Later on, you would play with your daughters, and now you have Lilliana de los Reyes in the band. So what’s so special in female vocals for you?

Julie Driscoll is a phenomenal singer and also a great person to be in front of the band, and for the material that we did – some material that people want to hear such as “Season Of The Witch” – you need a female voice, so for a long time I didn’t play any of those tunes, until my girls came to me and asked me to do that.

– Didn’t Savannah do songs not from Julie’s time but from the Alex Ligertwood period, pieces like “Straight Ahead”?

Yes, exactly. But Ligertwood wasn’t on the first “Straight Ahead” track that I did, on the “Straight Ahead” album, and he wasn’t on the one before, because he first came in in 1971 for two years, and then he had some marital problems and gone to Paris, where he lived for two years, while I made “Closer To It!” and “Straight Ahead” and both those albums went on the “Billboard” charts – on the Jazz, R&B and Rock charts. My record company was phoning up, saying “What the hell kind of music is this?” (Laughs.) So when I called Alex to wish him a Merry Christmas, I asked him if he wanted to tour the States, and he was back in the band.

– Alex left you to join Santana, but you played world music way before Santana, on “Goodbye Jungle Telegraph” and other pieces.

We were touring the States from 1975 through to 1977, and I had not had a break for 16 years by that time and I was a bit mentally and physically exhausted, so I said, “Look, I’ve got to take some time off.” We lived in San Francisco then, as did the SANTANA band, and I think they had their eye on Alex. He called me and said, “Hey, Brian, I’ve just spoken to these people and they made me an offer I don’t think I can refuse, but if you’re going go out and tour again, I’ll come with you, man.” I said, “I can’t do that right now, so go and do this thing. Look after yourself and make some money.”

As for world music, our conga player, Lennox Laington, was from Trinidad; he played in steel bands but also played fantastic congas and percussion. He introduced me to Eddie Palmieri, and I was already listened to Mongo Santamaria – I loved Latin music, that’s incredible! (Laughs.) – so when I got out to San Francisco, I played in the band that the Escovedo brothers had. I also worked with Walfredo Reyes, a wonderful drummer who’s played with everybody: he is Lilliana’s dad, so she’s got all that stuff going in the right place and also she’s got a tremendous voice. She’s somebody we’re going to notice, so keep an eye out, man.


– Watching your live videos, especially the Winterland show from 1975, I couldn’t help but notice your bands’ looseness. It’s like you sometimes blend into the background and let other players shine.

Of course! Of course! What’s the point of having a great soloist in your band if you’re not going to let them play! And I’m not really a bandleader; I don’t see myself as that. I’m a musician, and some people would like to play with me, and there are people that I’d like to play with as well… And I have them in my band now! (Laughs.)

– And how do you form your band? It’s a fluctuating line-up: you keep on changing guitarists, singers, bass players. You just call them?

Yeah. I see people that I like – I mean I’m not on the road all the time with one unit – and my band is a band that people look at and go, “Get that guy. Make him an offer he can’t refuse!” So a lot of the musicians have been in my band – it’s like a school – but, again, I’m not some strict kind of leader or anything like that: you lead by example. If people don’t like you and you treat them badly, then they don’t want to work with you.

– About school. People like John Mayall are recognized as these institutions that many great players came out of but I don’t feel that you’re given your proper due in that regard, although you opened the doors for many prominent artists such as Gary Boyle.

The thing is, what is your due? I’m absolutely satisfied with the fact that I’ve always played with people that I want to play with and I’ve always played the music that I want to play. What else would you want? Maybe people in the big record companies don’t see that that is the way to go; they see that you should do what they say and that they should step into the studio and be a producer and tell you what your music is supposed to sound like. And I don’t get that. I’ve always taken care of the music and got it the way I want. Maybe it’s not for everybody but that’s for me to judge, man: I’m here as an artist, I stand on the periphery of society, and I tell you what I see – I tell you the truth of what I see – and I try to accompany that with the music.

– How satisfying it is to play with your family? Is there telepathy between you, Karma and your daughters?

Absolutely, I never told my kids what to play because they know – otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the band. My eldest daughter, Ali, is crazy about Sarah Vaughan, and she has a tremendous, beautiful, spectacular jazz voice, and Savannah is more of a rock singer, but they both can sing anything. They know the band, they’d seen the band, they had good examples to step straight in. I’ve always been amazed at what they could do. And also Karma is phenomenal: he can play anything – jazz, Latin, the whole deal. He basically runs the band for me now and looks after everybody. He’s just an amazing person.

We made an album with [2001’s “Soft & Furry”] but she suffers with migraine and can’t really come out and tour now. “Dad, I can’t do that,” she said, so we were writing down the people that we were going to contact to sing in the band. Then, Karma said, “Well, I think they’d like Savannah,” and I said, “Savannah doesn’t sing.” She was into drama and theater when in college. “She does,” he said. “But you haven’t heard her.” “You must kidding!” “No, no, no. Why don’t you give her, say, half a dozen songs, we’ll make her rehearse them, and then make up your mind.” And when I heard her… Oh my God! (Laughs.) So she was in the band until she came to me and said, “Dad, I’m getting married, I want to start a family.” Things happen like that, and that’s fine. This used to upset me to lose anybody from the band early on – it was like losing an arm – because chemistry is something that is really important, but then, it’s new blood and new ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (Laughs.)

Brian and Julie

– You mentioned standing on the periphery of society, but you used to step straight in yourself. You played in Czechoslovakia in 1968. How do your remember touring behind the Iron Curtain?

Very fondly, in one way. We played in Bratislava, and there was a lot of press and people around, but even though the concert was sold out, only those who were in the [Communist] Party could get tickets. I met a guy who wrote for the local paper and asked him to translate some stuff into Czech for me, because I wanted to go and talk to the people, and say, “Good evening” or “I’d like to play you a piece by THE BEATLES”… I still remember some of that. I wrote everything down, phonetically, and then I went up to the microphone at the beginning and said, “Dobrý vecer!” and everybody stood up. It was like, Wow! (Laughs.) “We want to play tanecnu píosenku BEATLES: ‘A Day In The Life’.” People came up afterwards and said, “We didn’t know you spoke Czech!” “I don’t. Denis here helped me.” “But you’ve got the local accent!”

– How many languages do you speak?

Basically, I speak four: French, German, Italian and a little English. (Laughs.)

– You also mentioned THE BEATLES, and I’ve seen your picture with Paul McCartney, in the studio. What did you do with him?

We were recording the single that he was producing at that time. I can’t remember, quite frankly, who was the singer – I think it was Mary Hopkin.

– There’s also a photo of you with your organ on top of Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano on top of Little Richard’s piano on top of Fats Domino’s piano.

That wasn’t my organ; that was a little piano. I did a scene with THE MONKEES – for “33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee”; I think it’s out on a DVD now – so I went into the studio one morning, and there were three pianos, one on top of the other, with those three names and… I said, “Wait a minute! What’s that thing up there?” They said, “It’s a piano, and you’re going to be playing it.” They got a ladder, and I climbed up there, but when we started to play these things were shaking, and I thought to myself, “Oh my God! If this lot comes down, it’s going to wipe down a large section of the rock ‘n’ roll world!” (Laughs.) I was so scared, but it was pretty ridiculous.

Ivories tower:
Brian with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Fats Domino

– You being a reluctant bandleader, who did haul your Hammond around back in the day?

I did! See that? (Points to a large lump on his right hand.) That’s something that appeared when I played “Club a’Gogo” in Newcastle, a pretty famous venue among the people who came from there, like THE ANIMALS: it was seven flights of stairs, and I had to haul this thing up there! Something popped one night, “What’s that?” It doesn’t hurt, thank God. Later on, for a long time, I had one roadie.

– I think it was on your version of “Green Onion” back in the ’60s that you added a piano to the organ and started to expand your instrumental palette afterwards. Did it give you more creative possibilities?

Yes, I played the Hammond and the piano but then, all of a sudden, synthesizers started to come out. I used the Moog synthesizer when it first came out and then, in particular, on the “Reinforcements” album and on “Planet Earth Calling – Search Party”; on the latter it was a Prophet-5, actually – I linked a couple of those to get the sound that I wanted. That was okay. (Laughs.)

– Did you feel more emotional returning to Hammond when you got back with Julie for “Encore”?

Not really… The “Encore” album was rather difficult. Julie came over to San Francisco to make the album, and there was this producer that the record company got for us, but in the end I had to tell him to go away and I finished the record myself. But I don’t know whether we just used the organ – there was also the piano.

– Did you like working with Eddy Offord as a producer?

Oh man, Eddy was fantastic! I first met him when we were making the “Streetnoise” album. He was only about 18 then, but you could ask him strange, difficult questions, trying to explain music, and he would search for a sound for you until you got it. And he also was a guy who could edit a recording: the 2-track is spinning, and he goes for the “Stop” button, pinches the tape and cuts it. I’d go, “Wait! Wait, Eddy! Don’t cut it, man! Let’s try it.” “No, no. That’s it. That’s the place.” And it would be perfect – I still can’t believe that. So on the “Streetnoise” album I called him “Eddy ‘The Surgeon’ Offord.” [Actually, the credit appeared on “Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express”; on “Streetnoise” it reads as “Edward ‘Edwit’ Offord.” – DME]

– Offord was an engineer then, with Gomelsky producing. What can you say about Giorgio as a producer?

Gomelsky was a con man who left us completely broke after five years of work, and I had to start again from scratch. But I’d rather not say anything bad against anybody: if you can’t say something good for them, don’t say anything.

OBLIVION EXPRESS

– You played with Eric Burdon for a few years but you didn’t record a studio album with him, only a concert one. Why?

Because he just didn’t want to do that. I was amazed when, just before our band broke up, he asked, “Do you think we should do a live album?” I said, “It would be a shame if we didn’t.” He continued to block the album being put out, though, and I still don’t know why, but it’s a hell of an album.

– So “Train Keeps A Rolling,” your album with Jeff Golub, was an opposite to that?

Kind of. I got a call from Jeff’s agent saying that he wanted to record with me and that he would like to have me on his album, for the whole album. I said, “I don’t think I know who Jeff Golub is. Send me a couple of his CDs or something” – which he did. I was, like, “Wow, this guy can play! He’s got fire and he’s got soul.” But what they didn’t tell me until I had agreed was that Jeff was suffering from a disease, and he had already lost his sight in one eye and it was going in the other eye. So I called him and spoke to him, and I thought, “This guy’s got a lot of guts: he wants to do an album and he’s going to do it.” And he wanted to go out and do some dates as well.

– Was you playing on the same bill as KISS and RUSH, between them, the most incongruous experience of yours?

(Laughing.) I’ll never forget that! I think it was in Richmond, Virginia. We were with an agency ATI who had everybody: they were putting us with different people, and also different people asked for us to open for them, like BLUE ÖYSTER CULT. I went, “Who are they?” But with RUSH opening, us in the middle and then KISS, I thought, “This should be interesting.” I’d never heard KISS before and it was so loud that I had to go out of there to listen.

– Sorry for mentioning this, but you’re almost 80 – yet you have this nuclear energy that many young people don’t have. What keeps you going at this day and age?

(Laughs.) I don’t know. I just love to play. And I like to play to people. I could spent my time in the recording studios I suppose – and I do a certain amount of that – but I so like to play live. There’s something about an exchange of energies that I find fascinating and satisfying.

– No thoughts of retiring?

Retiring to what, exactly? What, I’m going to sit on the porch in a rocking chair? I don’t think so! (Laughs.)

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