The Animals - All about the band: full biography

The story of the most rock 'n' roll band of the '60s - The Animals!

The Animals: the history of the band

The Animals were born in 1963, though in fact they appeared four years earlier, when Alan Price and bassist Brian Chandler met in Newcastle. Both were into jazz and blues. Their similar musical interests prompted them to form a band.

A little later drummer John Steele joined the line-up, and then the band got a name - Alan Price Rhythm & Blues Combo. But the band lacked a leader - it was only with the arrival of Eric Burdon that the musicians' stellar journey to the top of the charts began.

Name of the band "Animals"

The Animals
The Animals

The band owes its name to the local Newcastle press. Journalists called the musicians "animals" because of their wild stage show, and they decided to change the band's name. However, in a 2013 interview, Eric Burdon said that the name was attached to them from a group of friends they used to hang out with at the time... Allegedly, one of them was nicknamed "Wild" Hogg, and the band's name was conceived as a kind of tribute to him... Anyway, the word "Animals" has stuck to the band forever!

The group's first success

Already in 1964 the musicians moved to London, the capital of Great Britain, and took to the big stage. Initially the repertoire consisted of R&B classics. Later, the group began to play rock music as well. It was at this period the guys found the cherished fame and fans... In the same '64 the record company "Columbia Records" made the musicians an offer. Thus was signed a five-year contract. The first result of this collaboration was the debut single "The Animals" - "Baby Let Me Take You Home".

It did not take long for success - later The Animals became the third member of the British Invasion along with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The band managed to balance pop singles with blues rhythms... The band became world famous with "The House of the Rising Sun", a reworked version of a folk song. In addition to that, hits such as "We gotta get out of this place", "It's My Life", "The Inside Story" and "I'm Crying" became gems of The Animals repertoire. Music critics noted Eric Burdon's vocals and the original arrangement by Alan Price.

Two years were enough time for the band to reach mega-stardom status. The Animals' hits include covers of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me", Nina Simone's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", and singer Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and other blues maestros.

Disunity and the breakup of The Animals

The Animals - The Best Of The Animals album cover
The Best Of The Animals cover

One would think, what is there to dream about? The hits topped the charts, but the band did not last long. In May 1965 the band began to feel pressure: there were serious disagreements between Burdon and Price on personal and musical differences, as well as the latter's fear to fly on tour... As a result of arguments Alan and drummer John Steele left the band. Instead of them came keyboardist Dave Rowberry and Barry Jenkins, the drummer.

Eric Burdon - The Best Songs...
Eric Burdon - The Best Songs...

But "The Animals" couldn't rise any higher - the musicians broke up, and some of their former members changed their occupation altogether. Eric Burdon released a solo album and founded the band Eric Burdon & The New Animals. In 1968 he disbanded his band and joined War as a vocalist.

It is worth mentioning that by the end of the sixties the business relations between the band and their manager were in a complete mess! Actually, the latter did not conceal it in any way, and even on the contrary, fully confirmed it in his subsequent interview. Alas, even by the standards of that time, when musicians, as a rule, were financially naive, The Animals were making very, very little money... In the end, the "charges" accused Michael Geoffrey of mismanagement and theft!

Alan Price assembled a new band, participated in film productions, and organized his own solo project, Alan Price Set. John Steele became a businessman and Chas Chandler became a music manager.

Repeatedly the members of "The Animals" tried to get together again and even recorded several albums, but their lucky star went out. The last hope for a reunion died with Chas Chandler in 1996...

Animals, in its original line-up, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. But... the ceremony was dry, without the band's traditional performance and Eric Burdon's velvet voice... In fact, he was not present at all.

In the early 2000s, the composition "House of the Rising Sun" and a single called "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" were included by Rolling Stone magazine in its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time, and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the Best Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll!


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