Julie Tippett. Born: Jun 8, 1947.
Sixties pop diva-turned-avant jazz singer Julie Driscoll was born June 8, 1947 in London. As a teen she oversaw the Yardbirds' fan club, and it was the group's manager and producer Giorgio Gomelsky who encouraged her to begin a performing career of her own. In 1963 she issued her debut pop single "Take Me by the Hand," two years later joining the short-lived R&B combo Steampacket alongside Rod Stewart, Long John Baldry and organist Brian Auger. After Steampacket dissolved, Driscoll signed on with the Brian Auger Trinity, scoring a Top Five UK hit in 1968 with their rendition of Bob Dylan's "This Wheel's on Fire." Dubbed "The Face" by the British music press, Driscoll's striking looks and coolly sophisticated vocals earned her flavor of the month status, and she soon left Auger for a solo career. Her debut solo album 1969 heralded a significant shift away from pop, however, enlisting members of the Soft Machine and Blossom Toes to pursue a progressive jazz direction. Also contributing to the record was pianist Keith Tippett, whose avant garde ensembles Centipede and Ovary Lodge Driscoll soon joined. She and Tippett were later married, and she took her new husband's name, also recording as Julie Tippetts. With her 1974 solo masterpiece Sunset Glow, she further explored improvisational vocal techniques in settings ranging from folk to free jazz. Two years later, Tippett joined with Maggie Nicols, Phil Minton and Brian Ely to form the experimental vocal quartet Voice, and in 1978 also collaborated with Nicols on the duo album Sweet and s'Ours. A decade later, she and Keith released Couple in Spirit, and in 1991 Tippett teamed with over a dozen instrumentalists from Britain and the former Soviet Georgia in the Mujician/Georgian Ensemble. The following year, she re-recorded "This Wheel's on Fire" as the theme to the smash BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous.
- Jason Ankeny (All Music Guide)