ANTION (VIKRAM Singh) aka Vic Briggs
Victor Harvey Briggs III was born in Hampton, in West London. His father had been an American, Capt. Victor H. Briggs Jr., commander of C Company, 1st Infantry division. Highly respected by his men, Captain Briggs led them through the hell of Omaha beach on June 6th, 1944 where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry. On November 17th 1944, he was killed in action in Northern France, before his only child was born. Young Vic was raised by his mother, the former Sheila Mills, who lived with her parents Alexander and Caroline Mills in Feltham, an undistinguished town about 15 miles from the heart of London's West End. As a child he was encouraged, like many children of the time, to take piano lessons. Although he did not continue for very long he gained a basic understanding of written music and a musical ear that would serve him well in his life to come. His mother was an avid fan of musicals and a sound track album of 'The King and I', 'Carousel' or 'Oklahoma' always on the record player.
When he was ten years old Vic heard 'Rock Around the Clock' by Bill Haley and the Comets . It was thrillingly unlike anything he had ever heard before and he began to collect records by Bill Haley, Elvis Presley and Little Richard , the wild abandon of the music of the latter quickly made him Vic's favorite rock 'n' roll artist.
The skiffle craze was in full swing and for Christmas 1957, Vic's mother gave him a guitar. He quickly mastered a few chords and within months was playing with semipro bands. By the time he was sixteen he was playing two or three nights a week with a band called the Cruisers Rock Combo. One night in February of 1961, Big Jim Sullivan who was the lead guitarist with Marty Wilde (one of the early Brit teen idols) came to sit in with the Cruisers. Impressed with Vic's talent, Jim became his mentor; a role Jim also fulfilled for Ritchie Blackmore who lived only a few miles from Feltham.
Big Jim was instrumental in getting Vic's first pro gig with a band called The Echoes. Although Vic only spent three weeks with the band (before his mother made him quit and go back to school) during that time he met many of the top names of Brit rock of that time including Cliff Richard and the Shadows and Billy Fury .
Although Vic's mother forced him to go back to school, his heart was not there and his schoolwork fell by the wayside. He went back to playing semi pro bands. In April of 1962 he was invited to rejoin The Echoes for one gig to back up Jerry Lee Lewis who was making a comeback in the UK. It was an incredible experience actually playing guitar for one of his boyhood heroes.
In the summer of 1962 Vic played for some months with a band called Peter Nelson and The Travelers. Although they were not a great band, they eventually morphed into Peter's Faces who came close to breaking into thecharts in 1965.
In January of 1965, success finally began to come his way. He was asked to rejoin The Echoes, the same band his mother had forced him to leave in September of 1961. In the interim, The Echoes had become the back up band for hit making chanteuse, Dusty Springfield . On February 14th 1965 (his 20th birthday) Vic flew to Ireland to begin his first tour with Dusty.
Vic took a job as a staff producer with Capitol Records in May of 1969. He quickly found that he was not suited to the stifling corporate life but felt he needed the security of a steady income. He began to suffer from depression. After the Animals management pulled some dirty tricks on him in November of that year, he began to wonder if he was cut out for the business side of the music business. On December 16th 1969, he got his answer when he was fired from Capitol. Vic Briggs, rock guitarist, arranger, producer and party animal was about to undergo a transformation.
VIKRAM SINGH KHALSA
At the time he was fired from Capitol Records, Vic was at one of the lowest places of his life. In spite of the fact that he had made more money in the previous year than he ever had with The Animals he felt absolutely empty. He had achieved so many of his goals, yet there was no joy within him. His experiences, first with the Animals and then with the LA music scene, had left him emotionally exhausted, with no hope that he could ever trust anyone ever again. At only 24 years old, he could feel that he was losing his health and was even wondering about his sanity.
On January 22nd, 1970 Vic saw an ad for a yoga class in the Melrose cRobertson area of LA. It was that night that he met Yogi Bhajan , who was to be his spiritual teacher for the next twenty years.
"Yogi Bhajan was an imposing man, more than 6 ft 4 ins in height who carried himself like he was king of all he surveyed. I was quite overwhelmed with his personal aura that was extremely powerful.
He asked me if I had any question about my future life. I told him about the sarod and how my ambition was to be a great sarod player. His answer shocked me.
"When you sing, he said, " people will come for thousands of miles to hear you. The dead will rise from their graves when you sing. My first thought was that Yogi Bhajan did not speak English well and that he had no idea what a Sarod was. But I didn't have too much time to think about it because he literally zapped me with energy from across the room, causing my third eye to open and for me to go into samadhi for a few moments. At that point, I allowed him to become the spiritual and temporal father that I never had..
From that point on, Vic began to strongly practice a yogic discipline, rising every day at 3.30 am for 21/2 hours of yoga, chanting and meditation. He would attend at least one and sometimes two yoga classes every day. The sarod started to fall by the wayside in the face of this intense spiritual practice.
Because Yogi Bhajan was a Sikh, Vic began to visit with the Sikh community in London, which, even in those days, was very large. The Sikhs took a liking to him and began to call him Vikram Singh, a Sikh name similar to his birth name. The more Vic found out about the Sikh approach to spirituality, the more it inspired him. In November of 1991 he was baptized as a Sikh, taking the name Vikram Singh Khalsa.
Vikram was very impressed with the music at the Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) in London. He began to study the music which is essentially vocal music generally sung to the accompaniment of a harmonium (a small, hand pumped organ like instrument) and tabla drums. The shabds (hymns) that are sung are based on Indian Classical Ragas, just as the sarod is so it was not hard for Vikram Singh to become proficient as a ragi (singer) quite fast. The British Sikh community was quite amazed. to see a young white man singing their own sacred music in such an accomplished manner and Vikram soon began to be invited to Gurdwaras all over England to sing.
Meanwhile he was till teaching yoga, although now doing it wearing a turban in the Sikh tradition. One day a young woman came in to his class. She was stunningly beautiful. Vikram Singh, being the devoted yogi that he was, pointedly ignored her. Or, at least, pretended to. Her name was Kirsten Lindholm and she was making as career as a model and as an actress, having already appeared in several Hammer Films horror movies. After a few months she and Vikram fell madly in love with each other. Each one realized that something had to give. Vikram would not have anything more to do with the entertainment business, while Kirsten did not want to leave her rich and famous lifestyle.
Finally, love won out. Yogi Bhajan called Vikram to come back to California (for which he will always be grateful) and Kirsten came with him. Soon they were married, becoming Vikram Singh and Vikram Kaur Khalsa. (Male Sikhs all have Singh, meaning Lion, as part of their name; female take the name Kaur meaning princess)
Back in California, the couple settled in Marin County near San Francisco where they soon had their first child. Marin County is the home of the Ali Akbar Khan College of Indian Music and Vikram Singh was able to fulfill his ambition to spend sometime studying with the master sarod player. In 1975, they moved back to Southern California. where Vikram Kaur gave birth to their second daughter in Anaheim.
In 1977, Yogi Bhajan appointed the couple as co-directors of the Guru Ram Das Ashram of San Diego, where they ran a yoga center, trained yoga teachers and were the minister for the Sikh Community of San Diego. During their years there, the Sikh Community grew and eventually a non- profit organization was started in order to build a permanent Sikh Temple in the San Diego area. Vikram was one of the founding members of the organization.
In 1979, he went to India. Singing in Gurdwaras all over the North of India, he was invited to sing in the most revered Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple of Amritsar, becoming the first non Indian to do so. In 1980 he repeated this pleasurable task.
The Golden Temple is a stunning place. Its construction was begun by Guru Ram Das the fourth guru of the Sikhs, but was completed by his son, Guru Arjun an outstanding poet and musician who complied the Sikh Scriptures, known as Siri Guru Granth Sahib. It is said that Guru Arjun gave the architect of the Golden Temple a vision of Paradise so he could be inspired to create Heaven on Earth.
The Temple itself is set in the middle of a huge artificial tank which was dug by hand. Pilgrims have to cross a bridge to reach it. The temple itself is quite small. But the tank and the surrounding complex reflect its radiance, as well as the sacred music sung therein. The music starts at 3 am and continues to 10 pm. It is broadcast around the complex on a PA system and is absolutely mesmerizing and intoxicating in its beauty, fervor and devotion.
The temple itself is constructed of marble but the upper walls and the five domes are covered with sheets of copper, which themselves are covered with beaten 24 carat pure gold. The reflection of the bright Indian sunlight off the golden walls and domes is dazzling.
It is a place that is solely dedicated to the praise and service of God as well as to those come to serve Him and seek His blessing.
1965 Recorded with Dusty Springfield hit single "Middle of Nowhere" (#3 in UK). Album "Everything's Coming up Dusty" (#6 in UK)
1965/1966 Recorded with Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger in Steam Packet Review.
1966 Recorded with Johnny Halliday (the "French Elvis Presley") Album "La Generation Perdue", hit single "Noir c'est Noir" ("Black is Black"), both #1 in France.
1966/1969 Recorded and arranged for Eric Burdon and The Animals. Co-writer, arranger and lead guitar on:
When I was Young (#15, 1967) San Franciscan Nights (#9, 1967) Monterey (#15, 1967) Sky Pilot (#14, 1968) Album Credits
Eric Burdon and the New Animals (MGM Records 1966)
Eric is Here (MGM 1966)
Best of Eric Burdon and The Animals (MGM 1967)
Winds of Change (MGM 1967)
The Twain shall Meet (MGM 1968)
Every One of Us (MGM 1968) (Producer for this album, but not credited)
Love Is (MGM 1969) (Arranger for this album)
The Greatest Hits of Eric Burdon and The Animals (MGM 1969)
The Live Eric Burdon and The Animals (Bulldog Records, Italy 1988)
Road Runners (Rare Live Recordings) (Raven Records, Australia, 1990)
The Best of Eric Burdon and The Animals 1966-1968 (Polygram 1991)
May to December 1969 Staff A&R for Capitol Records, Hollywood
Produced and arranged albums by:
Danny McCulloch "Wings of a Man"
Sean (T.S.)Bonniwell (Ex Music Machine Lead Singer) "Close"
Hilton Valentine "It's all in your Head"
Zoot Money "Welcome to my Head"
Future "Down a Country Road"
Marc Eric "A Midsummer Day's Dream"
The Surf Symphony "Songs of Summer"
1975 to 1991
Recorded 6 New Age albums of Sikh Sacred music for Invincible Music under his Sikh Name "Vikram Singh Khalsa"