Eric Burdon and The Animals – When I Was Young (1967)
The Animals were an English music group of the 1960s formed in Newcastle upon Tyne during the early part of the decade, and later relocated to London. Known for their gritty, bluesy sound and deep-voiced frontman Eric Burdon — as exemplified by their number one signature song “The House of the Rising Sun” as well as by hits such as “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” and “It’s My Life” — the band balanced tough, rock-edged pop singles against rhythm and blues-oriented album material. They became known in the United States as part of the British Invasion.
The Animals underwent numerous personnel changes in the mid-1960s and suffered from poor business management. Under the name Eric Burdon and the Animals, they moved to California and achieved commercial success as a psychedelic rock band, before disbanding at the end of the decade. Altogether, the group had ten Top Twenty hits in both the UK and US.
The original lineup had a brief comeback in 1977 and 1983. There have been several partial regroupings of the original era members since then under various names.
Eric Victor Burdon (born 11 May 1941) is best known as a founding member and vocalist of The Animals, a rock band formed in Newcastle, England, his funk rock band War and his aggressive stage performance. He was ranked 57th in Rolling Stone’s list – The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Formed in Newcastle upon Tyne during 1962 and 1963 when Burdon joined the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, the original line-up comprised Eric Burdon (vocals), Alan Price (organ and keyboards), Hilton Valentine (electric), John Steel (drums), and Bryan “Chas” Chandler (bass).
They were dubbed “animals” because of their wild stage act and the name stuck. The Animals’ moderate success in their hometown and a connection with Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky motivated them to move to London in 1964, in time to be grouped with the British Invasion. They performed fiery versions of the staple rhythm and blues repertoire, covering songs by Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, and others. Signed to Columbia Records’ subsidiary of EMI, a rocking version of the standard “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” (retitled “Baby Let Me Take You Home”) was their first single.
It was followed in June 1964 by the transatlantic number one hit “House of the Rising Sun”. Burdon’s howling vocals and the dramatic arrangement created arguably the first folk rock hit. Whether the arrangement was inspired by versions by Bob Dylan, folk singer Dave Van Ronk, by blues singer Josh White (who recorded it twice in 1944 and 1949), or by singer/pianist Nina Simone (who recorded it in 1962 on Nina at the Village Gate), remains a dispute.
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 November 1964, the group was poised to make their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show and began a short residency performing everyday in theatres across New York City. The group arrived at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in a motorcade which featured each member of the band riding in the back seat of a Cadillac with a model. The group drove to their hotel with the occasional shriek of girls who had chased them down once they discovered who they were. The Animals sang “I’m Crying” and “House of the Rising Sun” to a packed audience of hysterical girls screaming throughout both performances. In December the MGM movie Get Yourself a College Girl was released with the Animals singing a Chuck Berry song, “Around and Around” headlining with The Dave Clark Five in the movie.
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; 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 song “We Gotta Get out of This Place” and “It’s My Life”. Around that time, an Animals Big Band made a one-time appearance.
By this time their business affairs “were in a total shambles” according to Chandler (who went on to manage Jimi Hendrix) 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.
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