The Animals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Animals
Posing for publicity in 1964: from left to right, Eric Burdon (vocals), Alan Price (keyboards), Chas Chandler (bass), Hilton Valentine (guitar), John Steel (drums)
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)
OriginNewcastle 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 membersHilton 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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

The Animals during a concert in Poland, 2016

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

  • In 1993, Hilton Valentine formed the Animals II and was joined by John Steel in 1994 and Dave Rowberry in 1999. Other members of this version of the band include Steve Hutchinson, Steve Dawson, and Martin Bland. From 1999 until Valentine's departure in 2001, the band toured as The Animals. This version featured Tony Liddle on lead vocal, Valentine, Steel, Rowberry, Jim Rodford on bass, and Steve "ih" Farrell on backing vocals and hand percussion.
  • After Valentine left these Animals in 2001, Steel and Rowberry continued as Animals and Friends with Peter Barton, Jim Rodford, and John E. Williamson. When Rowberry died in 2003, he was replaced by Mick Gallagher (who had briefly replaced Alan Price in 1965). Danny Handley joined the band in 2009, initially as lead guitarist, but replaced Peter Barton on lead vocals when Barton retired in 2012. At this time, Scott Whitley had a brief tenure in the band before New Yorker Roberto "Bobby" Ruiz took over the bass guitar role. This successful line-up continues to tour the world, undertaking extensive tours, with special guests such as Steve Cropper and Spencer Davis, among others.
  • In the 1990s, Danny McCulloch, from the later-1960s Animals, released several albums as The Animals.[20] The albums contained covers of some original Animals songs, as well as new ones written by McCulloch.
  • Eric Burdon formed a new backing band in 1998, and went out as Eric Burdon and the New Animals. This was actually just a rename of an existing band with whom he had been touring in various forms since 1990. Members of this new group included Dean Restum, Dave Meros, Neal Morse, and Aynsley Dunbar. Martin Gerschwitz replaced Morse in 1999, after Ryo Okumoto had a brief stint for 3 weeks and Dunbar was replaced by Bernie Pershey in 2001. In 2003, the band started touring as Eric Burdon and the Animals. After the line-up changed in 2006, original guitarist Hilton Valentine joined with the group for its 2007 and 2008 tours. The group also included Red Young, Paula O'Rourke, and Tony Braunagle. After Burdon lost the rights to the name, he formed a new band with completely different musicians.
  • In 2016, Burdon formed the current lineup of The Animals, including Johnzo West (guitar/vocals), Davey Allen (keys/vocals), Dustin Koester (drums/vocals), Justin Andres (bass guitar/vocals), Ruben Salinas (sax/flute) and Evan Mackey (trombone).[21]

Dispute over ownership of band name[edit]

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[edit]

Year Awards Work Category Result
1964 NME Awards "The House of the Rising Sun" British Disc of the Year Won




Current members
  • John Steel – drums (1963–1966, 1975–1976, 1983, 1992–present)
  • Mick Gallagher – keyboards (1965, 2003–present)
  • Danny Handley – guitar, vocals (2009–present)
  • Roberto Ruiz – bass, vocals (2012–present)
Former members


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


The Animals
1976–1983 September–December 1983 1983–1992



Valentine's Animals
Animals II
1994–1999 1999–2001
The Animals
2001 2001–2003
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


Songs in film and television[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Animals Biography". Rolling Stone. 2001. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b The Animals Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1994. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  3. ^ The Animals: Biography AllMusic Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b Making Time The Animals. Retrieved 2 November 2007.
  5. ^ Woolf, Russell (29 October 2013). "Eric Burdon on Vinyl Tuesday – ABC Perth". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  6. ^ "The House of the Rising Sun & the 1960s British Invasion: interview with The Animals' John Steel". The Shortlisted. 27 April 2021. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  7. ^ David Hatch; Stephen Millward (1987). From Blues to Rock: An Analytical History of Pop Music. Manchester University Press. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7190-2349-1.
  8. ^ Marsh, Dave The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made, NAL, 1989. Entry #91.
  9. ^ Ralph McLean, "Stories Behind the Song: 'House of the Rising Sun'", BBC, undated. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  10. ^ Get Yourself a College Girl (1964) Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  11. ^ Animals to Switch to MGM Billboard (25 Sep 1965). Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  12. ^ Goodman, Fred (2015), Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, 978-0-547-89686-1, pp. 66–68.
  13. ^ T. Curtis Forbes, ‘Animals’ tamed for concert here—they add a violin. Newport Daily News, 21 February 1967, via Ross Hanna and Corry Arnold (2010), Eric Burdon and The Animals. Retrieved 14 March 2017.
  14. ^ Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. Page 123.
  15. ^ a b c d Sutcliffe, Phil & Fielder, Hugh (1981). L'Historia Bandido. London and New York: Proteus Books. ISBN 0-906071-66-6. Page 47–48.
  16. ^ Summers, Andy (2006). One Train Later. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-35914-0. Page 134–5.
  17. ^ Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. Rolling Stone Touchstone. 2001. p. 22.
  18. ^ "The Animals Biography | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum". Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  19. ^ Welch, Chris (17 July 1996). "Obituaries: Chas Chandler". The Independent. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  20. ^ "In Memoriam: Danny McCulloch – No Treble". No Treble. No Treble. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Eric Burdon". Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  22. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  23. ^ Associated, The (16 March 2012). "Springsteen Gives Music History Lesson At SXSW". NPR. Retrieved 31 March 2012.
  24. ^ "Genesis' Banks — A Current Account Archived 31 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine". Beat Instrumental, April 1976. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  25. ^ "BAND". ericburdon.

Further reading[edit]

  • Burdon, Eric. I Used to Be an Animal, but I'm All Right Now. Faber and Faber, 1986. ISBN 0-571-13492-0.
  • Kent, Jeff. The Last Poet: The Story of Eric Burdon. Witan Books, 1989. ISBN 0-9508981-2-0.
  • Egan, Sean. Animal Tracks: Updated and Expanded: The Story of The Animals, Newcastle's Rising Sons. Askill Publishing, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9545750-4-5.
  • Burdon, Eric (with J. Marshall Craig). Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood: A Memoir. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2001. ISBN 1-56025-330-4.
  • Payne, Philip. Eric Burdon:Rebel Without a Pause. Tyne Bridge Publishing, 2015. ISBN 9780993195600

External links[edit]