Briggs quit as the lead guitarist for Eric Burdon and the Animals in late 1968,
he vowed his performing days in a rock 'n' roll band were behind him.
"I knew if I didn't get out then, I'd lose my sanity or my health,"
said Briggs, who co-wrote the songs "When I Was Young," "Sky
Pilot" and "Monterey"
while in the Animals. "In fact, I denied my past for many years." ,
Now, a quarter of a century later, Briggs is about to return to the five rock
arena in a major way. Yesterday, the English-born, San Diego-based guitarist
began rehearsals with a reconstituted version of the Animals in Moscow, where the band will perform Sunday in the first
rock concert ever held in Red Square.
The concert is being billed as a benefit to aid children suffering from the
effects of the Chernobyl
nuclear disaster. Other artists ,tentatively scheduled to appear include New
Age harpist Andreas Volienweider, English heavy metal band Saxon, The Blues
Band (featuring ex-Dire Straits drummer Pick Withers), Onyx,and others.
held in front of St. Basil's Cathedral adjacent to the Kremlin, the concert is
expected to draw an audience of between 100,000 and 300,000, and will be aired
live by the RussianState 'Television
Company. It will be hosted by Casey Kasem, and all funds raised will be
administered by the United Nations Association Trust.
turns out the Animals are still very popular over there," said Briggs, 47,
who settled in San Diego
in 1977, 10 years after first performing here with the group. In:itially, the
idea was to put the band back together and get a record deal, and we didn't
even think about doing concerts," he continued. "But this is for a
very important cause, so we decided to do it."
addition to Briggs, the Animals' lineup that will perform Sunday in Moscow includes second
edition members Danny McCulloch on bass and vocals and drummer Barry Jenkins,
along with new percussionist Jack McCulloch. Conspicuously absent is lead
singer Eric Burdon, whose name is synonymous with the Animals.
"You know, there were two generations of Animals, and it's generally
agreed the second was far better than the first," said Briggs, who
downplayed Burdon's absence. "There was an energy in that band, and Eric
was certainly part of it, but it,wasn't all him.
decided to do it without Eric because he's rather difficult to work with. And
the Animals' name was never registered. I had my attorney do a trademark search
and it was never registered as such, so we've registered it. We really felt we
started something back then that we never finished."
sounded alternately bemused and angry when reached for comment yesterday in Frankfurt, Germany.
He is now touring Europe, with the, band he co-leads with keyboardist Brian
Auger, whose former group, the Trinity, featured Briggs in 1965.
"Well, they're going to have to deal with (original
Animals' bassist) Chas Chandler in England,
because as far as I know he has the Animals' name locked up," said Burdon,
chuckling. "But so what? I think I'm morally entitled to use that name as
much as anybody - if I still wished to. But I don't wish to."
sputtered. "If they can scrape some business together in a country that
just opened its doors to outside business and doesn't know it's being sold a
crock, well, I will one day come to Moscow with my own band and people can
decide for themselves who deserves the name (the Animals)."
The Animals, such as they
now are, decided to get back together after a meeting between Briggs and Danny
McCulloch last year in England.
McCulloch has been named in at least one press report as the likely replacement
for Bill Wyman in the Rolling Stones, should Wyman follow through on his
threats to leave the band. However, since no action is expected in the Stones'
camp until after Mick Jagger finishes his next solo album, McCulloch should be
free to work with the Animals for now.
Briggs, meanwhile, is
enthusi- astic about resuming the rock ca- reer he abandoned altogether to
study Indian classical music and the Sikh religion. Under his Sikh name, Vikram
S. Khalsa, he has recorded several albums of Indian music for the Phoenix-based
In- vincible label, and he hopes to teach a UCSD Extension course on spiritual
music later this year. "I sing and play harmonium on my Indian music
albums," he said. "But I tried to give it an updated twist by using
drum machines and synthesizers. Of course, it's a lirnited market."
Deadhead neighbor Walton
Since settling in Hillerest with his wife and two daughters, Briggs has headed
his own plumbing company and, since 1985, worked as a yoga teacher. Once
named alongside Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton as one of Jimi Hendrix's three
favorite English musicians, he resumed playing guitar after being taken to a
1989 Jerry Garcia Band concert here by his neighbor, noted Deadhead Bill I
"Actually, I used to do Bill's I plumbing," said Briggs, a big,
bearded bear of a man. "He took i me backstage after the show and i Jerry
was delighted to see me; I had lived with the Dead briefly in Haight-Ashbury
in the '60s. The next day, I bought a guitar, after having played nothing but
Indian music for 20 years."
Briggs has written a batch of new songs that he hopes to record with the
Animals, ideally here -in San Diego,
once the band concludes ongoing negotiations with an American label.
"The truth of the matter is we've hardly talked to each other since
1968," he said of his reunit- ed bandmates. "But I don't feel like
this is a revival band. I feel like we've spent all these years preparing
ourselves to complete what we started back then. We've all grown and matured,
and we're certainly better people. You might say we're going to bring the
spirit of the '60s into the '90s with a new musical dressing, if you like.
Eric not being in the band, I'll say we were the Animals, we are the Animals
and we're going to be the Animals - end of story. We started some- thing, it
never got finished, and now we're going to complete it."