In 1966, after the original Animals disbanded, Eric Burdon created a new group of Animals featuring a new sound, doing their own songwriting, with Barry Jenkins on drums, Danny McCulloch on bass, John Weider on guitar, violin and bass, and Vic Briggs on lead guitar, who passed away June 30 at age 76. Briggs is the second lead guitarist for The Animals to pass away this year. In January we lost The Animals’ founding guitarist, Hilton Valentine.
Briggs, an experienced guitarist, who began with Dusty Springfield in 1965, was featured on three of The Animals’ albums and four of the quintet’s Top 40 singles, beginning with “When I Was Young” in early 1967, which included an Indian music sound with Briggs’ electric guitar and Weider’s violin blending together. That June, The Animals performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, where Briggs met Ravi Shankar and it was the first time that he witnessed Indian classical music, which had a major impact on him.
The next hit was the first in a pair of singles to celebrate the California scene, “San Franciscan Nights.” The flip side was reflective, called “Good Times.” Opening lines included the phrases, “when I think of all the good times that I’ve wasted having good times,” “instead of drinking, I should’ve been thinking,” and “instead of fighting, I could have done the right thing.” Briggs’ orchestral arrangement added to the power of the message.
Eric Burdon and The Animals
Flip side: Good Times
A side: San Franciscan Nights
Top 100 debut: August 5, 1967
Peak position: No. 9
MGM K 13769
The other California inspired hit that year was “Monterey,” which recounted the group’s experiences at the Monterey Pop Festival, mentioning Ravi Shankar and other acts who they shared the stage with, and Briggs’ delivery replicated a sitar sound.
In 1968, Eric Burdon and The Animals had their final Top 40 hit with the antiwar two sided single “Sky Pilot,” parts one and two. Combined, the song was 7:28 in length. Radio stations generally played the first half, but at night, with fewer commercials to contend with, the flip side, or full album cut, received airplay to give the listener the full experience.
After departing The Animals, Briggs produced many albums, including Hilton Valentine’s solo album All in Your Head, released in December 1969.
In the following decade, Briggs pursued his passion for Indian music, studied and embraced Eastern religion, and became known as Antion Vikram Singh Meredith.
His daughter Pritam Potts told Goldmine, “I am so overwhelmed and deeply touched by the outpouring from around the world of sympathy, remembrances, shared experiences about my father and his impact on so many people. How can you sum up a life such as his? A soul like his needs no help as he is waltzing, dancing, skipping and merrily going about his journey.”