The First Westerner To Do Kirtan Inside Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji!

Victor Harvey Briggs III / Vikram Singh Khalsa / Antion (b- 14 February 1945) was born in Twickenham, London, England. Growing up with a love of music and particularly Jazz, he became a rock musician, best known as the lead guitarist with Eric Burdon and The Animals during the 1966-1968 period. Currently plays classical Indian and Hawaiian music.

Vic Briggs played guitar and piano with various groups in the 1960s, including The Echoes (Dusty Springfield’s backing group), Brian Auger and the Trinity (the Back up band of Steam Packet), Johnny Hallyday and Eric Burdon and The Animals.

He says that a “jugalbandi” (duet) recording of Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan that he purchased in the late 1960s, hooked him on Indian music. It was the deep vibrant ringing sound of Khansahib’s sarod that appealed to him more than the sound of the Sitar. The music of Ali Akbar Khan captured his imagination, in particular, he states, it was his ability to express karuna (spiritual longing) that intrigued him deeply.

It was after listening to a concert by Khan, that he in his own words said, “I realized that music could be much more of a tool for raising consciousness than I had previously imagined”.

After being laid off from a job with Capital Records in LA, he answered an ad for a yoga class where he met Yogi Bajan. Hoping to learn a little about Sikh devotional music he went with a friend he made in the yoga class to listen to a ‘Punjabi folk singer’ named Jagat Singh Jagga.

Soon he was off to London with a message relayed from Yogi Bhajan, “Tell him to study harmonium, learn the music of the Sikhs and go to Sikh Temple occasionally”. In London he found a giani, Giani Joginder Singh Sarl who agreed to teach him Gurbani Kirtan. As his name was Vic, the Giani the giani suggested he call himself Vickram Singh. It wasn’t long before he realized that he would need to learn to read Panjabi and in particular the script or alphabet that the Guru Granth Sahib is written in; Gurmukhi.

Next, while out for a walk, he chanced to meet three men, a ragi jatha visiting from India, Bhai Gurcharan Singh, his brother, Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Swaran Singh, the tabla accompanist who were staying at a nearby Gurdwara.

He later became the first non-Indian to perform kirtan at Harmandir Sahib (also called the Golden Temple of Amritsar). He moved to San Diego, where he had a plumbing business in the 80s. He has made several albums of Indian music and was the first non-Indian to perform kirtan at Harimandir Sahib (also called the Golden Temple of Amritsar).

Briggs currently goes by the name Antion and plays Hawaiian chant music.

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