5 Fascinating Facts About The Animals

Like so many British Invasion bands, The Animals repackaged American music and sold it back to us. This group from the North of England championed John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley on their first album. Blues, soul, folk, rhythm & blues, rock ‘n’ roll…it’s all there. The Beatles did it, the Stones did it, The Yardbirds did it. They all fed our music right back to us Americans—with a bit of a different perspective. 

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The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo first started playing in Newcastle upon Tyne. With the addition of lead singer Eric Burdon, they changed their name to The Animals. They band released its first single in America, but it failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, however, was “House of the Rising Sun.” It went all the way to No. 1. Other hits followed, but the original lineup couldn’t find a way to survive. Keyboardist Price left first, and the rest of the band followed. Burdon, however, recruited an all-new lineup and continued making records and touring (eventually as “Eric Burdon and the Animals”). Check out these five fascinating facts about The Animals.

1. “House of the Rising Sun” Was Recorded in One Take

It’s hard to trace the origins of “House of the Rising Sun.” It’s a traditional song passed down through generations and recorded by many, including Roy Acuff, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan. When The Animals went into the studio on May 18, 1964, to take their shot at it, they changed the time signature and performed the song exactly one time. Everything about the arrangement is perfect. The iconic guitar intro, the unmistakable voice, and the building organ all add up to four minutes and 29 seconds of rock ecstasy.

2. Singer Eric Burdon was John Lennon’s “Eggman”

I Am the Walrus” by The Beatles includes references to “the Eggman.” And Burdon shared the character’s origin story in his 2002 memoir, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:

“The nickname stuck after a wild experience I’d had at the time with a Jamaican girlfriend called Sylvia. I was up early one morning cooking breakfast, naked except for my socks, and she slid up beside me and slipped an amyl nitrite capsule under my nose. As the fumes set my brain alight and I slid to the kitchen floor, she reached to the counter and grabbed an egg, which she cracked into the pit of my belly. The white and yellow of the egg ran down my naked front, and Sylvia began to show me one Jamaican trick after another. I shared the story with John at a party at a Mayfair flat one night with a handful of others.” 

Lennon loved the story and replied, “Go on, go get it, Eggman.”

3. Original Bassist Chas Chandler Went on to Manage Jimi Hendrix

The paperwork for the publishing of “House of the Rising Sun” was submitted with only Alan Price’s name instead of all five of the members. This led to other disagreements about business affairs, and then it was discovered that the band’s management was cheating them out of money and making other moves that weren’t in the best interest of the band. It was the beginning of the end of the band as they’d started, with business-minded bassist Chas Chandler being among the first to jump ship.

[RELATED: Behind the Song Lyrics: “House of the Rising Sun,” The Animals]

Before he left The Animals, Chandler was on tour in New York City, where he saw Jimi Hendrix perform. He took the young guitarist to England and assembled a group that became the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was very involved with the business side of the band during their first two albums before shifting his attention to the band Slade, who he managed for the next 12 years.

4. The Police’s Andy Summers Was a Member of the Band in the Late ’60s.

After the original members departed, Eric Burdon recruited “New Animals.” Several albums followed, with different members on each. And to Burdon’s credit, the hits continued. The band performed at the Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, which also served as the American debut of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Burdon wrote the song “Monterey” about the entire experience, and it became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. The last Animals album, Love Is, included guitarist Andy Summers, who would go on to find fame as a member of The Police.

5. Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted

Eric Burdon and the New Animals officially disbanded in 1968, just after Love Is was released. Burdon went on to join the band War, which had success with the hit single “Spill the Wine.” In 1977, the original lineup of The Animals reunited and recorded an album. Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted failed to do much on the charts, but it did receive positive reviews. There was not much support from the record label, so the band didn’t bother to tour behind it. The original lineup would not get together again until 1983, when they recorded another album, Ark. This time, they toured and had a modest hit with the song “The Night.” 

The lineups changed, and the original members disagreed about things, but the music prevails. Crank up the substantial repertoire of The Animals. Their catalog shows the evolution of a band from playing straight rhythm & blues, to rock ‘n’ roll, to psychedelic freakout. No matter what era, it’s good stuff.

Photo by CA/Redferns

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