Tuesday, 1 December 2009


When I was little there was one LP in my mums record collection I was always mesmerised by, it had a cream gatefold cover with (to my young eyes) scary brown pictures and writing. In my teens when I first became interested in the fashion and music of the 60's, my mum told me I should listen to this album called Streetnoise. My goodness, what had I been missing, the female singer had the most soulful voice and the music had fierce hammond the whole way through. Later when I was nearly old enough to be going to the London 60s/mod clubs they would always play Indian Rope Man, which still makes me want to dance every time I hear it. Anyway enough with my reminiscing I have been planning this post for ages and finally got my butt into gear to give a brief history of the sights and sounds of Julie Driscoll.

Her musical life began in the early 60s when she released a single called “Take me by the hand”. Around the same time she was secretary of The Yardbirds Fan Club whose offices were in Carnaby Street. Their manager was a man called Giorgio Gomelsky who in 1965 introduced her to a group called Steampacket featuring the Rod “The Mod” Stewart & Long John Baldry plus a little known organ player called Brian Auger, they sung classic rhythm & blues, there were no official recordings released of this first british supergroup, and no video. Few pictures exist from this era, Julie's style at the time was classic british mod gal, mens hipster trousers and granny chic which must have been influenced by her Carnaby Street days and the shops of John Stephens, with a heavy fringed short hair do her eye make up was dark and distinctive. Below are images from pretty much the only two photo sessions that exist from this time.

The Steampacket was short lived, Rod went off and first joined a group called Shotgun Express and then The Jeff Beck Group, the rest is rock n roll history. Julie stuck with Brian Auger and in 1967 they formed Julie Driscoll Brian Auger & The Trinity. Their biggest hit was a cover of the Bob Dylan song “This wheels on fire” which was latterly used for the theme song for Ab Fab. Julie's style really came into it's own around this time, it was quite dark and bohemian with lots of crepe and victoriana. Her hair was cropped super short and was a big influence on the style of skinhead girls a few years later. The fashion press adored her and she featured in fashion shoots for UK & French Vogue. Although one feature that really stood out and that was her eye make up and the long spidery faux and drawn on lashes, Rave magazine even did a step by step guide to getting Julies make up, the September 1968 issue features an interview with her where she says “ I buy all my clothes from three places in London, Granny Takes a Trip, The Chelsea Antique Market and Forum....I like groovy gear, all loud and obvious. To hell with little demure dresses.”

Streetnoise was preceded by the album Open (1967) and followed by Jools and Brian (1969). All fantastic albums and really capture the spirit of late 60s London, with some great R&B and soul covers, and original sounds too. Do check them out if you haven't already!

American audiences may have spotted them in the 1969 Monkees special 33 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee, which is an interesting watch, this synopsis from wiki pretty much sums it up “The story focused around Charles Darwin (Auger) and his assistant (Driscoll) as they take The Monkees through various stages of evolution until they are ready to brainwash the world via commercial exploitation. Hatched in giant test tubes, the four are stripped of all personal identity and names: Mickey Dolenz becomes Monkee #1, Peter Tork becomes Monkee #2, Michael Nesmith Monkee #3, and Davy Jones Monkee #4.”

Not much is known about the split between Jools and Brian, she released a solo album in 1969, called 1969! Brian Auger formed Oblivion Express in 1970. Julie married jazz musician Keith Tippett in the early 70s and pretty much dropped out of the public scene. She still regularly tours with her husband in various guises.

1 comment:

wilthomer said...

Lucky you to have a parent with such cool musical tastes! As a child there was a British music book that was printed in the early 70's and there was a '68 or '69 pic of Jools that freaked me out as she looked rather like a scary witch, hitting puberty and becoming a young mod boy soon changed that idea around. I've just "published" a bunch of pics I "collected" of her on my blog...."Anorak Thing".


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