Guide to British Music of the 1960s


The Animals

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Vocals - Eric Burdon, guitar - Hilton Valentine, bass - Chas Chandler, drums - John Steel, organ - Alan Price

In 1962 the Alan Price Combo was joined by vocalist Eric Burdon. They were dubbed "animals" because of their wild stage act and the name stuck. The group played a set of R&B standards but also included some Bob Dylan material. They backed the visiting American blues star Sonny Boy Williamson on a UK visit and there is an album available of this. Their first single, Baby Let Me Take You Home was similar to Dylan's own Baby Let Me Follow You Down.

The follow-up single had also been recorded by Dylan although it was a traditional folk song. House of the Rising Sun is a classic and broke the 3-minute rule for singles. It became number one in the US and UK despite claims that it was too long. It has also been the source of much discontentment in the Animals camp. It is credited to "traditional arranged Alan Price" although it was arranged by the band. Since 1964, Alan Price has taken 100% of the royalties for the songwriting. 

The band had a series of hit singles despite losing Price in 1965. He said he was scared of flying and so was unable to travel to the US with the group. To continue the Dylan theme, Price was in the  Bob Dylan "rockumentary" Don't Look Back at the time of his departure from the Animals. He was replaced by Dave Rowberry who had been in the Mike Cotton Sound. John Steel left in 1966 to be replaced by Barry Jenkins from the Nashville Teens.

The group broke up in 1967. Since then, Eric Burdon formed the New Animals and continued to have a level of success although less than the "original" Animals. Chas Chandler became the manager of Jimi Hendrix and later Slade. Alan Price formed the Alan Price Set and had hits including Simon Smith & the Amazing Dancing Bear and the Jarrow Song.

Hilton Valentine died 29 January 2021.

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