The Animals






The Animals were part of the English blues scene of the early Sixties and one of the most noteworthy bands of the original British Invasion. The band formed in Newcastle-on-Tyne, a port city and coal-mining hub in northeast England. With the five piece lineup of singer Eric Burdon, organist Alan Price, bassist Chas Chandler, guitarist Hilton Valentine and drummer John Steel, the band reflected their earthy upbringing with blues-based rock and roll. The group derived its inspiration and much of its early repertoire from American blues and R&B sources, adapting them to a British working-class sensibility. Gruff-voiced Eric Burdon was a commanding blues singer, imparting rage and anguish into their material. The band's sound was also heavily defined by Alan Price's organ playing, which provided dramatic accents and a blues-jazz atmosphere.

Originally known as the Alan Price Combo, the group changed its name to the Animals when Burdon joined in 1962. With the release of "House of the Rising Sun" in mid-1964, they became the first British group after the Beatles to chart a number one single in America. Their dark, brooding arrangement of that traditional folk song became an early milestone in the British Invasion. They continued their assault on the American record charts with "I'm Crying" (#19), "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (#15) and "Bring It On Home To Me" (#32).

The original membership lasted only until May, 1965, with Alan Price's 1965 departure due to his fear of flying. Keyboardist Dave Rowberry was brought in to replace him and The Animals continued their hit streak with "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place", (#13) "It's My Life" (#23), "Inside Looking Out" (#34) and "Don't Bring Me Down", (#12). After a series of more line-up changes, Eric Burdon continued with new recruits now billed as Eric Burdon and the Animals and enjoyed several more U.S. hits such as "See See Rider" (#10), "When I Was Young" (#18), "San Franciscan Nights" (#9), "Monterey" (#15) and "Sky Pilot" (#14).

After breaking up the Animals in December, 1968, Burdon entered the Seventies as frontman for a black funk group from the streets of Los Angeles known as War and recorded the hit single "Spill the Wine"(#3) and two albums. When Burdon became discouraged and quit the music business because of what he said was "too much competition", War continued to have a successful career without him, placing 11 more songs in the Billboard Top 40. Burdon eventually changed his mind and continued as a solo artist, recording intermittently throughout the Seventies and Eighties.

As for the other early Animals, Alan Price enjoyed a highly successful solo career in Britain, Dave Rowberry became a session player and bassist Chas Chandler discovered and managed Jimi Hendrix. The original Animals subsequently reunited in 1976 to tour and record a reunion album called "Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted", after which Burdon ventured into new territory by appearing in several European films and eventually starred in and composed the soundtrack for the German film,"Comeback". Burdon reunited with The Animals once again for more world touring in 1983. He also recorded a song called "Sixteen Tons" for the soundtrack to Tom Hanks' feature film, "Joe Versus the Volcano".

In 1990 Burdon toured with Robbie Krieger (formerly with The Doors), did a cameo roll in Oliver Stones' picture, "The Doors", studied acting at The Actor's Studio in Los Angeles, did more professional acting by doing a cameo role in the feature film "The Eleventh Victim", and appeared as featured artist in television shows such as "China Beach". In 1991 he collaborated with follow Englishman and keyboard player Brian Auger to form the Eric Burdon / Brian Auger Band and continued to tour the world, primarily in Europe, performing for his many loyal fans. From this collaboration came the live, double album, "Access All Areas".

In 1994, Eric Burdon and The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

Chas Chandler died of a heart attack in 1996. Dave Rowberry suffered a similar fate in 2003.

Burdon's great voice can be heard on national television commercials and he has appeared in several documentary specials on the history of rock n' roll including a series by Time/Life in the States and Granada TV and BBC TV in England. He was a featured artist on the Concert For The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and performed in the HBO Special presentation of that concert, where he sang some of his classic hits in a duet with Jon Bon Jovi and he was honoured to have been invited by the family of Jimi Hendrix to perform in the "Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert in Seattle".

From there, Burdon formed a brand new band and continued performing some of the freshest and most moving songs of his brilliant career. "Eric Burdon's I Band" has toured Europe extensively, performing at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles, Harrah's Tahoe and Reno, and many other forums in the U.S.

Starting in 2001, several past members of The Animals have toured and recorded under the name Animals and Friends.

A collaboration called "Eric Burdon and The New Animals" has its own sound and in addition to the classic Burdon songs, its own material. The new band featured guitarists Dean Restum and Neal Morse, bassist Dave Meros, and one of the true legends in popular music, drummer Aynsley Dunbar. Burdon and The New Animals toured regularly and headlined at numerous tribute concerts and national festivals. In the early part of the new millennium, he completed work for a Greek motion picture, continued to work on his autobiography, issued a new studio CD, hosted Micky Horne's U.K-based Virgin Radio show, put the finishing touches on a live I-Band CD and took part in an impromptu memorial for the late Linda McCartney.

In April, 2004 Burdon released a comeback album called "My Secret Life", his first collection of new recordings in over 16 years. He followed it with a Blues / R&B collection, "Soul of a Man" in January 2006. In January, 2013, Burdon announced his latest solo effort, "'Til Your River Runs Dry", which he was slated to support with a short tour. He was also working on his third memoir, a follow-up to I Used to Be an Animal, but I'm All Right Now and Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: A Memoir.

The Animals Biggest Hits:

"The House Of The Rising Sun" --1964-- charted at #1
"I'm Crying" -- 1964--charted at #19
"Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" --1965--charted at #15
"Bring It On Home To Me" --1965--charted at #32
"We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" --1965--charted at #13
"It's My Life" --1965--charted at #23
"Inside-Looking Out" --1966--charted at #34
"Don't Bring Me Down"-- 1966--charted at # 12

as Eric Burdon & The Animals:

"See See Rider" --1966--charted at #10
"Help Me Girl" --1966--charted at #29
"When I Was Young" --1967--charted at #15
"San Franciscan Nights" --1967--charted at #9
"Monterey" --1967--charted at #15
"Sky Pilot" --1968--charted at #14

Be sure to read Gary James' Interviews With The Animals' Eric Burdon and Hilton Valentine