The Animals

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The Animals
Eric Burdon & the Animals.jpg
Posing for publicity in 1964: from left to right, Eric Burdon (vocals), Alan Price (keyboards), Chas Chandler (bass), Hilton Valentine (guitar), John Steel (drums)
Background information
Also known as
  • Eric Burdon and the Animals (1966–1969, 2003–2008, 2016–present)
  • Valentine's Animals (1992)
  • Animals II (1992–1999)
  • Animals & Friends (2001–present)
Origin Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Years active
  • 1963–1969
  • 1975–1976
  • 1983
  • 1992–present
MembersEric Burdon and the Animals:
Eric Burdon
Johnzo West
Davey Allen
Dustin Koester
Justin Andres
Ruben Salinas
Evan Mackey
Animals and Friends:
John Steel
Mick Gallagher
Roberto Ruiz
Danny Handley
Past members Hilton Valentine
Alan Price
Chas Chandler
Dave Rowberry
Zoot Money
Andy Summers

The Animals are an English rhythm and blues and rock band, formed in Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 1960s. The band moved to London upon finding fame in 1964. The Animals were known for their gritty, bluesy sound and deep-voiced frontman Eric Burdon, as exemplified by their signature song and transatlantic number-one hit single, "The House of the Rising Sun", as well as by hits such as "We Gotta Get Out of This Place", "It's My Life", "Don't Bring Me Down", "I'm Crying", "See See Rider", and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". The band balanced tough, rock-edged pop singles against rhythm and blues-oriented album material and were part of the British Invasion of the US.


The Animals underwent numerous personnel changes in the mid-1960s, and suffered from poor business management, leading the original incarnation to split up in 1966. Burdon assembled a mostly new lineup of musicians under the name Eric Burdon and the Animals; the much-changed act moved to California and achieved commercial success as a psychedelic and hard rock band with hits such as "San Franciscan Nights", "When I Was Young", and "Sky Pilot", before disbanding at the end of the decade. [1] Altogether, the group had 10 top-20 hits in both the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100.

The original lineup of Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler, Hilton Valentine, and John Steel reunited for a one-off benefit concert in Newcastle in 1968. They later had brief comebacks in 1975 and 1983. Several partial regroupings of the original-era members have occurred since then under various names. The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.


The Animals (1962–1968)

Formed in Newcastle upon Tyne during 1962 and 1963, when Burdon joined the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, the original line-up was Eric Burdon (vocals), Alan Price (organ and keyboards), Hilton Valentine (guitar), John Steel (drums), and Bryan "Chas" Chandler (bass). [2] [3]

They were dubbed "animals" reportedly because of their wild stage act, and the name stuck. [4] In a 2013 interview, Eric Burdon denied this, stating it came from a gang of friends with whom they used to hang out, one of whom was "Animal" Hogg, and the name was intended as a kind of tribute to him. [5] In a 2021 interview, John Steel affirmed that the name was given them by Graham Bond instead. [6] The Animals' success in their hometown and a connection with The Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky motivated them to move to London in 1964 in the immediate wake of Beatlemania and the beat boom take-over of the popular music scene, just in time to play an important role in the so-called British Invasion of the US music charts.

The Animals performed fiery versions of the staple rhythm and blues repertoire, covering songs by Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, and others. Signed to EMI's Columbia label, their first single was a rocking version of the standard "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" (retitled "Baby Let Me Take You Home"). [7]

It was followed in June 1964 by the transatlantic number-one hit "The House of the Rising Sun". Burdon's howling vocals and the dramatic arrangement, featuring Alan Price's haunting organ riffs, created arguably the first folk rock hit. [8] [9] Debate continues regarding The Animals' inspiration for their arrangement of the song, which has variously been ascribed to prior versions by Bob Dylan, folk singer Dave Van Ronk, blues singer Josh White (who recorded it twice in 1944 and 1949), and singer/pianist Nina Simone (who recorded it in 1962 on Nina at the Village Gate )

The intense arrangement of the song is said to owe much to their desire to be the most memorable band on the multiple-act tours of the UK on which they were booked in the early days. The repeating guitar riff and Burdon's screaming vocals did seem to ensure that of all the bands a crowd might see, The Animals were the group that people could not stop talking about and the song they could not get out of their heads.

The Animals' two-year chart career, produced by Mickie Most, featured intense, gritty pop-music covers such as Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" and the Nina Simone-popularised number "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". In contrast, their album tracks stayed with rhythm and blues, with John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and Ray Charles' "I Believe to My Soul" as notable examples.

In October 1964, the group was poised to make their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show and begin a short residency performing regularly in theatres across New York City. The group arrived in New York City direct from John F. Kennedy International Airport in a motorcade formed of Sunbeam Alpine Series IV convertibles, with each car featuring a band member riding with a fashion model in the back seat and the rooftop down. The group drove to their hotel accompanied by the occasional shrieks of girls who had chased them down once they discovered who they were. The Animals sang "I'm Crying" and "The House of the Rising Sun" to a packed audience of hysterical girls screaming throughout both performances on Sullivan's show. In December, the MGM movie Get Yourself a College Girl was released with The Animals headlining with the Dave Clark Five. The Animals sang a Chuck Berry song, "Around and Around", in the movie. [10]

By May 1965, the group was starting to feel internal pressures. Price left due to personal and musical differences, as well as fear of flying on tour. [4] He went on to a successful career as a solo artist and with the Alan Price Set. Mick Gallagher filled in for him on keyboards for a short time until Dave Rowberry replaced him and was on hand for the hit songs "We Gotta Get out of This Place" and "It's My Life".

Around that time, The Animals put together a big band to play at the 5th Annual British Jazz and Blues Festival in Richmond. The Animals Big Band made their one public appearance on 5 August 1965. In addition to Burdon, Rowberry, Valentine, Chandler, and Steel, they featured a brass/horn section of Ian Carr, Kenny Wheeler, and Greg Brown on trumpets, and Stan Robinson, Al Gay, Dick Morrissey, and Paul Carroll on saxophones.

Many of The Animals' hits had come from Brill Building songwriters recruited by Mickie Most; the group, and Burdon in particular, felt this too creatively restrictive. As 1965 ended, the group ended its association with Most, signed a new deal with their American label MGM Records for the US and Canada, and switched to Decca Records for the rest of the world and MGM Records producer Tom Wilson, who gave them more artistic freedom. [11] In early 1966, MGM collected their hits on The Best of The Animals ; it became their best-selling album in the US. In February 1966, Steel left and was replaced by Barry Jenkins. A leftover rendition of GoffinKing's "Don't Bring Me Down" was the last hit as The Animals. The next single, "See See Rider", was credited to Eric Burdon and the Animals. By September 1966, the original incarnation of the group had split up. Their last batch of recordings was released on the album Animalism in November 1966.

Burdon began work on a solo album, called Eric Is Here , which also featured Burdon's UK number-14 solo hit single, "Help Me, Girl", which he heavily promoted on TV shows such as Ready Steady Go! and Top of the Pops in late 1966. Eric Is Here was Burdon's final release for Decca Records.

By this time, their business affairs "were in a total shambles" according to Chandler (who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix and produce Slade) and the group disbanded. Even by the standards of the day, when artists tended to be financially naïve, The Animals made very little money, eventually claiming mismanagement and theft on the part of their manager Michael Jeffery. [12] [ better source needed ]

Eric Burdon and the Animals (1966–1968)

Eric Burdon and the Animals in 1967: Foreground: Eric Burdon
Background (L-R): Danny McCulloch, John Weider (in striped shirt), Vic Briggs, and Barry Jenkins Animals ABKCO.jpg
Eric Burdon and the Animals in 1967: Foreground: Eric Burdon
Background (L–R): Danny McCulloch, John Weider (in striped shirt), Vic Briggs, and Barry Jenkins

A group with Burdon, Jenkins, and new sidemen John Weider (guitar/violin/bass), Vic Briggs (guitar/piano), and Danny McCulloch (bass) was formed under the name Eric Burdon and Animals (or sometimes Eric Burdon and the New Animals') in December 1966, and changed direction. The hard-driving blues were transformed into Burdon's version of psychedelia as the former heavy-drinking Geordie (who later said he could never get used to Newcastle "where the rain comes at you sideways") relocated to California and became a spokesman for the Love Generation.

Early performances of this group did not include any of the hits for which the original group had become known. [13] Some of the new Animals' hits included "San Franciscan Nights", "Monterey" (a tribute to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival), and "Sky Pilot". Their sound was much heavier than that of the original group, with Burdon screaming more and louder on live versions of "Paint It Black" and "Hey Gyp". By 1968, they had developed a more experimental sound on songs such as "We Love You Lil" and the 19-minute record "New York 1963 – America 1968".

Further changes were made to this lineup: Zoot Money was added in April 1968, initially as organist/pianist only, but upon McCulloch's departure, he also took on bass and occasional lead vocals.

In July 1968, Andy Summers replaced Briggs. Both Money and Summers were formerly of British psychedelic outfit Dantalian's Chariot, and much of this new lineup's set was composed of Dantalian's Chariot songs, which caught Burdon's interest. [14] Due to Money's multi-instrumental load, in live settings, bass was played alternately by Weider and Summers. Summers eventually went on to great success as the guitarist for The Police. [15]

By December 1968, these Animals had dissolved, and both their double album Love Is and the singles "Ring of Fire" and "River Deep – Mountain High" were internationally released.

Numerous reasons have been cited for the breakup, the most famous being an aborted Japanese tour. The tour had been scheduled for September 1968, but was delayed until November, due to difficulty obtaining visas. [15] Only a few dates into the tour, the promoters – who, unbeknownst to the band, were yakuza – kidnapped the band's manager and threatened him at gunpoint to write an IOU for $25,000 to cover losses incurred by the tour's delay. [15] The manager wrote out the IOU, but correctly surmising that none of his captors could read English, added a note that it was written under duress. [16] The yakuza released him, but warned that the band and he would have to leave Japan the next day or be killed. The Animals promptly fled the country, leaving all their tour equipment behind. [15] Money and Summers both subsequently pursued solo careers (though this pursuit was swiftly aborted in Summers' case), Weider signed up with Family, and Burdon joined forces with a Latin group from Long Beach, California, called War.[ citation needed ]

Reunions of the Animals

The original Animals line-up of Burdon, Price, Valentine, Chandler, and Steel reunited for a benefit concert in Newcastle in December 1968 and reformed in late 1975 to record again. [17] Burdon later said nobody understood why they did this short reunion. They did a minitour in 1976 and shot a few videos of their new songs such as "Lonely Avenue" and "Please Send Me Someone to Love". They released the album in 1977, aptly called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted . [18] The album received critical praise. Burdon and Valentine also recorded some demos at that time, which were never released. On 12 December 1982, Burdon performed with Alan Price and a complete line-up, foreshadowing later events.

All five original band members reunited again in 1983 for the album Ark and a world concert tour, supplemented by Zoot Money on keyboards, Nippy Noya on percussion, Steve Gregory on saxophone, and Steve Grant on guitar. The first single, "The Night", reached number 48 at the US Pop Singles and number 34 at the Mainstream Rock Charts, also gaining success in Greece. They released a second single called "Love Is For All Time".

The Ark tour consisted of about one-third material from the original 1960s and two-thirds material from Ark or other songs. The latter included the songs "Heart Attack", "No More Elmore" (both released a year earlier by Burdon), "Oh Lucky Man" (from the 1973 soundtrack album to O Lucky Man! by Price), "It's Too Late", "Tango", and "Young Girls" (later released on Burdon's compilation, The Night). On 9 September, they had their first show in New York at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, the tickets for which sold out. A Wembley Arena concert followed on 31 December (supporting The Police), which was released on the Rip it To Shreds live album in 1984 after they had disbanded again. Their concert at the Royal Oak Theatre in Royal Oak, Michigan, on 29 November 1983, was released on 27 February 2008, as Last Live Show. A film about the reunion tour was shot, but never released.

Chas Chandler died from an aneurysm in 1996, putting an end to any possibility of another reunion of the full original line-up. [19]

Later incarnations

The Animals during a concert in Poland, 2016 The Animals 2016.jpg
The Animals during a concert in Poland, 2016

During the 1990s and 2000s, several groups ave called themselves Animals in part:

Dispute over ownership of band name

In 2008, an adjudicator determined that original Animals drummer John Steel owned "the Animals" name in the UK, by virtue of a trademark registration Steel had made in relation to the name. Eric Burdon had objected to the trademark registration, arguing that Burdon personally embodied any goodwill associated with "the Animals" name. Burdon's argument was rejected, in part because he had billed himself as "Eric Burdon and the Animals" as early as 1967, thus separating the goodwill associated with his own name from that of the band. On 9 September 2013, Burdon's appeal was allowed; he is now entitled to use the name "the Animals".[ citation needed ]


The original Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, although Burdon did not attend and the band did not perform. [2] In 2003, the band's version of "The House of the Rising Sun" ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Their 1965 hit single "We Gotta Get out of This Place" was ranked number 233 on the same list. Both songs are included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. [22]

On 15 March 2012, in a keynote speech to an audience at the South by Southwest music festival, Bruce Springsteen discussed The Animals' influence on his music at length, stating, "To me, The Animals were a revelation. They were the first records with full-blown class consciousness that I'd ever heard." He said of "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" (written by two New York songwriters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil): "That's every song I've ever written ... That's 'Born to Run,' 'Born in the U.S.A.,' everything I've done for the past 40 years including all the new ones. That struck me so deep. It was the first time I felt I heard something come across the radio that mirrored my home life, my childhood." Saying that his album Darkness on the Edge of Town was "filled with Animals," Springsteen played the opening riffs to "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" and his own "Badlands" back to back, then said, "Listen up, youngsters! This is how successful theft is accomplished!" [23]

Tony Banks, the keyboard player of British progressive rock band Genesis drew influence from Alan Price, whom he regarded as "[t]he first person who made me aware of the organ in a rock context". [24]

Awards and nominations

1964 NME Awards "The House of the Rising Sun"British Disc of the YearWon




Current members
Former members


1963 – May 1965
The Animals
May 1965May 1965 – February 1966February–September 1966
December 1966 – April 1968
Eric Burdon and the Animals
April–July 1968July–December 1968December 1968 – 1975


The Animals
1976–1983September–December 19831983–1992



Valentine's Animals
Animals II
The Animals
Animals and Friends
Animals and Friends
Animals and Friends
Animals and Friends
Animals and Friends
Eric Burdon and The Animals [25]
  • Eric Burdon – vocals
  • Davey Allen – keyboards, vocals
  • Dustin Koester – drums, vocals
  • Justin Andres – bass, vocals
  • Johnzo West – guitar, vocals
  • Ruben Salinas – saxophone, flute
  • Evan Mackey – trombone


The Animals

Songs in film and television

See also

Related Research Articles

Eric Burdon English singer-songwriter

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Hilton Valentine British musician

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Its My Life (The Animals song) 1965 single by the Animals

"It's My Life" is a song written by Brill Building songwriters Roger Atkins and Carl D'Errico. The song was originally performed by English R&B band The Animals, who released it as a single in October 1965.

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The Best of The Animals was The Animals' first greatest hits collection. It was released in February 1966 in the United States, but never put out in the United Kingdom. The album showcased The Animals' tough-edged pop hits combined with their more devoted blues and R&B workouts.

David Eric Rowberry was an English pianist and organist, most known for being a member of the rock and R&B group The Animals in the 1960s.

<i>Animal Tracks</i> (American album) 1965 studio album by The Animals

Animal Tracks is The Animals' third album in the United States released as both LP Record and Reel to reel tape. Musically, it was a hodge-podge of the group's recent hit singles mixed in with tracks of assorted vintage that had not been included on either of The Animals' first two U.S. albums. As such it bore little resemblance in content or purpose to the band's British release also named Animal Tracks from four months earlier. "The Story of Bo Diddley" is an adaptation and expansion of a song recorded by Bo Diddley in 1960, utilizing some of the original lyrics but with additional verses and melody.

Dont Bring Me Down (The Animals song) 1966 single by the Animals

"Don't Bring Me Down" is a song composed by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and recorded as a 1966 hit single by the Animals. It was the group's first release with drummer Barry Jenkins, who replaced founding member John Steel as he had left the band in February of that year.

Colin Ernest "Barry" Jenkins is an English musician, who is best known for being a drummer for The Animals during both of that 1960s group's incarnations.

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Access All Areas is a live album by the Eric Burdon and Brian Auger Band recorded at the Belly Up Tavern, Solana Beach, California on 10 May 1993.

Eric Burdon discography

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The Most of Animals or The Most of the Animals is the title of a number of different compilation albums by Newcastle upon Tyne blues rock group The Animals. Although track listing varies, all feature only songs from 1964 and 1965. The title is derived from the name of their then producer Mickie Most.

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"The House of the Rising Sun" is a traditional folk song, sometimes called "Rising Sun Blues". It tells of a person's life gone wrong in the city of New Orleans; many versions also urge a sibling or parents and children to avoid the same fate. The most successful commercial version, recorded in 1964 by the British rock band the Animals, was a number one hit on the UK Singles Chart and also in the US and France. As a traditional folk song recorded by an electric rock band, it has been described as the "first folk rock hit".

<i>Live in Seattle 2002</i> 2002 live album by Eric Burdon and The New Animals

Live in Seattle 2002 is a live album by Eric Burdon and his current band called "The New Animals". While Burdon had no new studio album released, he performed hits from the sixties. On "Spill the Wine" they were joined by Lee Oskar on harmonica.

Finally is a documentary film about Eric Burdon. It was released in 1991 on VHS and in 2003 on DVD. It features clips from 1964 to 1970 and some from 1991.

<i>Greatest Hits Live (Rip It to Shreds)</i> 1984 live album by The Animals

Greatest Hits Live is a live album by the original members of The Animals. It was released in 1984.


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Further reading