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Animals, The

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Animals, The, British blues-rock group; formed 1958. M EMBERSHIP: Alan Price, org., pno. (b. Fairfield, County Durham, U.K., April 19, 1942); Eric Burdon, voc. (b. Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K., May 11, 1941); Bryan “Chas” Chandler, bs. (born Dec. 18, 1938, in Newcastle upon Tyne; d. London, July 17, 1996); Hilton Valentine, lead gtr. (b. North Shields, U.K., May 22, 1943); John Steel, drm. (b. Gateshead, County Durham, U.K., Feb. 4, 1941). Later members included Dave Rowberry, kybd. (b. Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K., Dec. 27, 1943); Barry Jenkins, drm. (b. Leicester, U.K., Dec. 22, 1944).

The Animals were one of the most important rhythm-and-blues-based bands to emerge from England in the mid-1960s, second in stature to only The Rolling Stones. Originally formed in 1958 in Newcastle by Alan Price as The Alan Price Combo, the group became known as The Animals sometime after Eric Burdon joined in 1962. Rivaling for a time both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in popularity, The Animals first gained recognition on the basis of Eric Burdon’s raw vocals and Alan Price’s subtle arrangements and inspired organ playing. However, The Animals faded within two years of Price’s 1965 departure, and Burdon, after moving to Calif, and recording second-rate psychedelic music, eventually reemerged in 1970 backed by War, an American soul ensemble that soon went on to success on their own. In the meantime, Animals’ bassist “Chas” Chandler “discovered” and managed Jimi Hen-drix, while Price pursued a solo career that established him in England. The original Animals reunited briefly in 1977 and 1983, and Burdon toured in the early 1990s with Robby Krieger and Brian Auger. The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Gaining local popularity, the band recorded with bluesman Sonny Boy Williamson at Newcastle’s Club A-Go-Go in late 1963. Moving to London in January 1964, The Animals signed with manager-producer Mickie Most, who secured them a recording contract with Columbia Records (with American releases on MGM). They scored a top British and American hit with the blues classic “House of the Rising Sun” (note Price’s outstanding arrangement and organ work). They followed up with Price and Burdon’s “I’m Crying” and four subsequent major American and smash British hits from Animal Tracks, including “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (previously recorded by Nina Simone), “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (by Brill Building songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), and “It’s My Life.” The Animals also managed moderate hit versions of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” and Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me.”

Alan Price departed for a solo career in May 1965, to be replaced by Dave Rowberry. The Animals hit with Carole King and Gerry Goffln’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” and Ma Rainey’s “See See Rider” John Steel was replaced by Barry Jenkins in early 1966 and the rest of the group left Burdon in September 1966. Retaining The Animals’ name, Eric Burdon moved to Calif, at the beginning of 1967 and reconstituted the band’s lineup. They appeared at the Monterey International Pop Festival in June and recorded a number of second-rate psychedelic hits such as “When I Was Young/’ “San Franciscan Nights,” “Monterey” and “Sky Pilot.” Andy Summers, later with The Police, was a member of The New Animals beginning in September 1968, but the group disbanded in December.

In the meantime, Alan Price formed The Alan Price Set, hitting with a remake of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” in 1966. Their one album, The Price Is Right, contained one of the first Randy Newman songs ever recorded, “Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear.” Disbanding the group in 1968, Price teamed with Geòrgie Fame from 1969 to 1971 for tours and television. Fame had had a major hit with “Yeh Yeh” in 1965. Chas Chandler “discovered” Jimi Hendrix at N.Y.‘s Cafe Wha in 1966 and became his first manager, producing The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s first two albums. In the 1970s Chandler managed the English rock band Slade.

Eric Burdon helped form the backup group War with members of Los Angeles’ Night Shift and Danish har-monicist Lee Oskar. Recording two albums and the smash hit single “Spill the Wine” with Burdon for MGM, War later became a popular act in its own right. After recording an album with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon, Burdon formed yet another band, cutting two albums for Capitol.

Alan Price reemerged in 1973 for the soundtrack recording of (and appearance in) the Lindsay Anderson film O Lucky Man . He recorded one other album for Warner Bros, before concentrating his activities in England. By the 1980s, Price was well established in England as a performer and composer, writing scores for movies, television, and a stage musical.

The original Animals reunited for tours and the recording of Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted and Ark in 1977 and 1983, respectively. Eric Burdon performed the lead role of a downfallen rock star in the 1982 film Comeback, wrote an autobiography, and recorded the solo album Wicked Man in 1988. He toured with guitarist Robby Krieger in 1990 and keyboardist Brian Auger in 1991. The Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Chas Chandler died in London on July 17, 1996, while undergoing tests for an aortic aneurysm. Eric Burdon toured once again in 1997, with his new band The Flying I Band.

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