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The Animals were an English music group of the 1960s known in the United States as part of the British Invasion. Known for their gritty, bluesy sound and deep-voiced frontman Eric Burdon, as exemplified by their signature songs "The House of the Rising Sun" and "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place", the band balanced tough, rock-edged pop singles against rhythm and blues-oriented album material. The Animals underwent numerous personnel changes and emerged as an exponent of psychedelic rock before dissolving at the end of the decade. They had a comeback in 1983 and started a world tour. In early 1984 the band disbanded.
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 (Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, etc). Signed to the UK Columbia 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 Bob Dylan's version of the song (which in turn was inspired by folk singer Dave Van Ronk) or by blues singer Josh White's (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, predating Dylan's interpretation) remains a dispute, as does whether all five Animals deserved credit for the arrangement and not just Price.
The Animals' two-year chart career, masterminded by producer Mickie Most, featured intense gritty pop-music covers such as Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" and the Nina Simone number "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". In contrast, their album tracks stayed with rhythm and blues, with Hooker's "Boom Boom" and Ray Charles' "I Believe to My Soul" as notable examples. Burdon's powerful, deep voice and use of keyboards as much as or more than guitars were two elements that made The Animals' sound stand out from the rest.
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 Kennedy 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 realised 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.
By May 1965 the group was starting to feel internal pressures. Price left due to personal and musical differences as well as a 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 working-class anthems "We Gotta Get out of This Place" and "It's My Life". Around that time, an Animals Big Band made a one-time appearance.
Many of The Animals' hits had come from Brill Building songwriters recruited by Most; the group, and Burdon in particular, felt this too restrictive. As 1965 ended, the group switched to Decca Records and producer Tom Wilson, who gave them more artistic freedom. In early 1966 MGM Records, their American label, 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 cover of Goffin-King's "Don't Bring Me Down" was the last hit as The Animals. For the single "See See Rider" they changed the name into Eric Burdon & The Animals. In September they disbanded and Burdon recorded a solo album, called Eric Is Here.
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 na´ve the Animals made very little money, eventually
claiming mismanagement and theft on the part of their manager Michael
Some of this group's hits included "San Franciscan Nights", "Monterey" (a tribute to the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival), and "Sky Pilot".
Their sound was much heavier than the original group. Burdon screamed more and louder on live versions of "Paint it Black" and "Hey Gyp". In 1968 they had a more experimental sound on songs like "We Love You Lil" and the 19 minute record "New York 1963 - America 1968". The songs had a style of being silent at the beginning and then becoming psychedelic and raw straight to the end with screaming, strange lyrics and 'scrubbing' instruments.
There were further changes to this lineup: George Bruno (also known as Zoot Money, keyboards) was added in April 1968, and in July 1968 Andy Summers (guitar) - later of The Police - replaced Briggs and McCulloch.
By February 1969 these Animals had dissolved and the singles "Ring of Fire" and "River Deep Mountain High" were internationally released.
Burdon joined forces with a Latin group from Long Beach, California,
Between 1970 and 1972 several bands toured under the name "The
Animals". So they reformed in late 1975 to record again. Burdon later
said, nobody understood why they did this short reunion. While the album
was recorded at his house, Chandler did not play bass for years. They
did a mini-tour in 1976 and shot a few videos of their new songs like
"Lonely Avenue" and "Please send me someone to Love". They released the
album in 1977 aptly called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted. The
album received critical praise and Burdon and Valentine also recorded
some demos at that time, which were, however, never released.
On September 9 they had their first gig in New York with an sold-out audience at the Mid Hudson Civic Center. The following tour included also a Wembley Stadium concert on December 31 which was released on the "Rip it To Shreds" live album in 1984 when they disbanded. The last concert at the Royal Oak Theatre in April 1984 was released on February 27 2008 as "Last Live Show". They also shot a rare video of the reunion.
The first single "The Night" reached #48 at the US Pop Singles and #34 at the Mainstream Rock Charts. It was also a big hit in Greece. They released a second single called "Love Is For All Time". Their tour included also songs like "Heart Attack", "No More Elmore" (both released a year earlier by Burdon), "Oh Lucky Man" (from the 1973 album by Price), "It's Too Late", "Tango " and "Young Girls" (later released on Burdon's compilation, The Night).
Chandler died in 1996, putting an end to the full original line-up.
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