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Profile: The Animals


Circa 1966: Promotional portrait of British rock group The Animals standing outdoors in a field.
Stringer/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


1962 (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, England)


R&B, Rock and Roll, Blues, British Invasion, Garage Rock, Folk-rock, Psychedelia

Original Members:

Eric Burdon (b. May 11, 1941, Walker-on-Tyne, England): vocals
Alan Price (b. April 19, 1942, Fatfield, County Durham, England): piano, organ
Hilton Valentine (b. Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine, May 21, 1943, North Shields, Tyne & Wear, England): guitar
Bryan "Chas" Chandler (b. December 18, 1938, Heaton, Tyne & Wear, England; d. July 17, 1996, Tyneside, England): bass
John Steel (b. February 4, 1941 in Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, England): drums

Contributions to music:

  • One of the earliest "British Invasion" bands to achieve massive success in America
  • The most authentic of the UK's first wave of R&B bands
  • Helped kickstart the folk-rock boom with their cover of "House Of The Rising Sun"
  • Lead singer Eric Burdon is considered one of rock's all-time great voices
  • Backed numerous American blues giants in the UK
  • Amongst the most commercially successful Sixties bands to make the switch to psychedelic music
  • A key interpreter of early Brill Building songwriters like Goffin-King and Mann-Weil
  • Lead singer Eric Burdon is known for discovering and originally singing with the band War

Early years:

Formed originally as the Alan Price Combo, the Animals were one of several British rhythm and blues bands touring the country in the early Sixties, distinguished mainly by their utter authenticity and to the lead vocals of Eric Burdon, who sang like an American bluesman. Indeed, it was a cover of a Leadbelly standard, "House Of The Rising Sun," which the band heard on blues singer Josh White's 1944 single, that gave them their first transatlantic smash, as the Northeastern group had taken up with Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky and moved to London just in time for the beat boom.


Legendary producer Mickie Most took the group under his wing, encouraging them to continue their updating of blues, R&B, and folk standards, but also introducing them to the best songs the New York Brill Building scene had to offer. For two years, the quintet were the toast of two continents, authentic enough to have backed luminaries like John Lee Hooker and Sonny Boy Williamson. However, Alan Price was beginning to chafe under Burdon's insistance that the group expand their repertoire, and he left in 1965, followed the next year by Steel and soon after by the others.

Later years:

Undaunted, Burdon assembled a new group under the same name, moved to San Francsico and embraced the psychedelic boom; by 1969 he had abandoned the band name entirely and scored a hit ("Spill The Wine") with his new discovery, a Latin-funk band called War. Soon after, Burdon embarked on a spotty solo career; the original band members have since reformed on occasion with equally uneven results. Burdon continues to record and tour on his own today. No less than four different Animals line-ups, all containing some original members, have toured in the 21st century.

Other facts:

  • Other members included: Dave Rowberry (b. Jul7 4, 1940, Nottingham, England; d. June 6, 2003, London, England): piano, organ; Berry Jenkins (b. December 22, 1944, Leicester, Leicestershire, England): drums; John Weider (guitar and bass); Vic Briggs (guitar and piano); Danny McCulloch (bass), Zoot Money (b. George Bruno, piano and organ)
  • Late-period guitarist Andy Somers would go on to become Andy Summers of The Police
  • The 1968 hit "Sky Pilot" was the first 45 to be released in stereo only
  • Chas Chandler would go on to even greater fame as the man who discovered and managed Jimi Hendrix


  • Rock And Roll Hall of Fame (1994)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1999)

Recorded work:

#1 hits:
  • "The House Of The Rising Sun" (1964)
Top 10 hits:
  • "See See Rider" (1966)
  • "San Franciscan Nights" (1967)
Top 10 albums:
  • The Animals (1964)
  • The Best Of The Animals (1966)
Other important recordings: "Gonna Send You Back To Walker," "Boom Boom," "Bury My Body," "She Said Yeah," "I'm Crying," "Shake," "Baby Let Me Take You Home," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Bring It On Home To Me," "We Gotta Get Out of This Place," "It's My Life," "Inside, Looking Out," "Hey Gyp," "Don't Bring Me Down," "Help Me Girl," "When I Was Young," "Monterey," "A Girl Named Sandoz," "Sky Pilot, Pts. 1-2"
Covered by: Blue Oyster Cult, Fear, Elvis Costello, Frijid Pink, Grand Funk Railroad, Bon Jovi, The Ramones, Tom Petty, David Johansen, Bruce Springsteen
Appears in the movies: "Get Yourself a College Girl" (1964), "Pop Gear" (1965), "Tonite Let's All Make Love in London" (1967), "Monterey Pop" (1968) Eric Burdon: "Comeback" (1982), "The Doors" (1991), "O Adelfos Mou Kai Ego" (1998), "Schnee In Der Neujahrsnacht" (1999), "Fabulous Shiksa In Distress" (2003)
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