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Eric Burdon's life has been a musical journey matched by few other performers in rock-music history. He has gone from the driving force of the grittiest British Invasion band, to pioneering the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene, to fronting WAR - the biggest funk band of the 1970's, to cutting an LP with an early influence, jazz-blues great Jimmy Witherspoon, to coming full-circle and reuniting his original band, The Animals, for a series of projects and a world-wide tour, to forming a new group of "Animals" and releasing a series of live CD's and a recent DVD concert.
Eric Burdon's lengthy recording career began in Newcastle, England, where he first covered songs by his idols, such greats as Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Josh White, Brownie McGhee, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmie Reed. He and The Animals quickly gained notoriety as England's best R&B band, and they were selected by the pirate station Radio Caroline as the feature for the first broadcast to the U.S. They were a part of the first live R&B recording in the U.K., when they joined Sonny Boy Williamson for the now famous 1963 New Year's Eve concerts. This raw performance was followed by a more polished outing when The Animals appeared with Jerry Lee Lewis & Gene Vincent on renegade Granada TV in 1964, for the Whole Lotta Shakin' concert feature (released on film as Don't Knock the Rock); the film showcased their rendition of Talkin' Bout You. Shortly thereafter, The Animals took the music world by storm when they recorded and released an electrified version of the traditional folk number, The House of the Rising Sun. In short fare they followed with such classics as Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, We Gotta Get Out of This Place, It's My Life, I'm Crying, Inside Looking Out, The Story of Bo Didley, Bring It On Home to Me, and See See Rider.
As the original Animals slowly disbanded, Burdon completed a solo project backed by the Horace Ott orchestra. This venture, Eric Is Here, featured On This Side of Goodbye, Losin' Control, and the title-track for the MGM film The Biggest Bundle of Them All. He then quickly re-appeared in California with his new group at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, where he performed Paint It Black, Hey Gyp, San Franciscan Nights, and a soul-stirring cover of Gin House Blues. Burdon & the New Animals can be found on both the edited concert footage, The Monterey Pop Festival, as well as in documentary-director D.A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop: The Film. The band went on to define the era musically with, in addition to San Franciscan Nights, such classics as Colored Rain, When I Was Young, White Houses, the fiercely anti-war song Sky Pilot, and the now famous homage to the festival itself, Monterey.
Eric Burdon returned to a solo career and his touring ultimately led to film, namely the motion picture Comeback. The material for the movie and soundtrack of the same name was culled from two recent solo LP's The Last Drive & Darkness, Darkness, supplemented with new material, later released as Devil's Daughter, Power Company, & Wicked Man. He then completed the manuscript for part one of his autobiography, I Used To Be An Animal, But I'm All Right Now. Shortly thereafter there appeared a full-length biography by fellow Englishman Jeff Kent, entitled The Last Poet: The Story of Eric Burdon. Burdon then released his long-awaited autobiographical LP/CD, I Used To Be an Animal, featuring the title track, Run for Your Life, and I Will Be With You Again. After touring he assisted on The Late Show With David Letterman's bandmaster Paul Shaffer's CD Coast to Coast, where he performed Room With a View. In 1991, Good Times, a massive Burdon recording history was published by Dionisio Castello. As all of these projects were evolving, Deliliah Music Pictures was completing the 1991 video documentary, Finally,Eric Burdon & The Animals; that same year he was consulted by Jenny Boyd for her study of music and creativity, later published as Musicians in Tune.
Over the years Eric Burdon has often done his own album-cover art; this work was finally acknowledged in 1994 when Jim McMullan's anthology Musicians as Artists was published, featuring some of Eric Burdon's more recent projects. Months later he and the original Animals were inducted into Cleveland's Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1995 he made a special guest appearance at the HBO Concert For The Rock ‘n' Roll Hall of Fame. Eric Burdon and his duet partner Jon Bon Jovi were singled out by reviewers for their no-nonsense renditions of It's My Life & We Gotta Get Outta This Place. Shortly thereafter, he was invited to the 1995 Bumpershoot Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert, where he joined Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Dr. John and others for a long overdue memorial performance. The year was capped off by a 30-minute British documentary on Eric Burdon & The Animals, featured as part of the My Generation television series. Before the end of the decade childhood friend George Pearson would publish his autobiographical tale, Sex, Brown Ale, and Rhythm & Blues: The Life That Gave Rise to the Animals; and, in 1996, Burdon (covering Leonard Cohen's "I'm Your Man"), James Taylor, Ian Anderson, Gino Vannelli, and many others assisted in the Mark Craney Benefit CD, Something With a Pulse!.
Throughout the mid 1990's Burdon toured as "Eric Burdon's I-Band", which featured ex-Tower of Power & Jethro Tull-drummer Mark Craney, guitarists Larry Wilkins & Dean Restum, and bassist Dave Meros. After Craney was forced to retire and await kidney-transplant, the band regrouped around legendary ex-Bluesbreakers-Mothers of Invention-Jeff Beck-Journey-Jefferson Starship-Whitesnake percussionist Aynsley Dunbar. It was at this time that the band's sound took final form and the plans were laid for live recordings, done primarily to compete with the ever-growing bootleg industry. The result was two "Official Live Bootleg" CD's, issued under the Flyin' Eye Records-label. This incarnation of the band toured relentlessly throughout the mid-to-late1990's. Then, in May, 1997 Wilkins passed away following a battle with cancer. Neal Morse stepped in on both guitars and keyboards, and the I-Band was eventually back on tour. In short fare, the band was again ready to record another live project, Official Live Bootleg #2 - which includes an excellent version of an often-recorded Jagger-Richards track, Paint It Black; the addition of Morse, and his work on Paint It Black, reminded many fans of the keyboard significance of any Burdon-based project. By 1999 Morse had retired to pursue other projects, but not before assisting Burdon on the charity-based project, The British Rock Symphony; Morse was replaced by keyboardist and violinist Martin Gerschwitz, who with Dunbar, Restum, and Morse form the New Animals, and back Burdon on his current tours and forthcoming CD release.
Eric Burdon's legendary role in rock history has been preserved in the more than 100 television and video performances he has made. His stellar "live" spots can be found on: Ready, Steady, Go!, The Ed Sullivan Show, Granada TV, Hullabaloo, The Della Reese Show, The Andy Williams Show, Gadzooks!, The Jack Parr Show, Rehearsal Room, Round Midnight, The Tube, Shindig!, The Beat Club, Don Kircshner's Rock Concert, Rick Wakeman's Gastank, MTV, Rock Palast, VH1, American Bandstand, Solid Gold, Night Flight, My Generation, The David Letterman Show, and many other programs. His place in rock history is without question; he plays a prominent role in every video documentary of the genre. The A&E, Dick Clark, BBC, and Time-Life mega-documentaries all chronicle his distinctive voice and his unique contributions to popular music.
In the music industry, virtually everything hinges on the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately principle. So, the question emerges: what has Eric Burdon done lately? In recent months he has been: editing volume 2 of his forthcoming autobiography, tentatively titled The House of the Rising Sun; sweeping Germany with more than 2-dozen concerts in less than a month; completing work for an upcoming studio CD, The Coat of Many Colors (which includes a new symphonic rendition of The House of the Rising Sun); hosting Micky Horne's U.K.-based Virgin Radio show; placing the finishing touches on the editing of a live I-Band CD in memory of guitar-great Larry Wilkins; preparing for a month-long, concert-stand in Australia; editing an additional book on reflections of his time spent in Germany in the 1980's; assisting with a 1999 VH-1 Behind the Music documentary on himself and his original band, The Animals; partaking in an impromptu memorial for the late Linda Mc Cartney; leading the charity-based 1999 British Rock Symphony CD which included his version of Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2; releasing via Pioneer Home Video, a 120-minute concert, Eric Burdon & The Animals Live at the Coach House - which included Burdon's first official video footage of Roadhouse Blues and You Got Me Floatin'; completing filming and attending the festival-premieres of My Brother and I (O Adelfos Mou Ki Ego) and Snow Fall on New Year's Eve (Schnee in der Neujahrsnact); offering interviews for the forthcoming book by Sean Egan, entitled Animal Tracks: The Story of England's Rising Sons; assisting in the Joshua Tree National Park protection campaign (and the subsequent Rockin' For Joshua Tree concert on April 22, 2000); and leading a host of stars in the 2000 post-Grammy Awards party at the Biltmore Hotel, where his 1.5 hour stage-jam concluded with old friends John Mayall and Spencer Davis. Where can you find Eric Burdon? As made explicit in his autobiographical song The Road, "I don't live - if I don't play this rock ‘n' roll". Albeit, the road is where he is.
As of 2006, Eric Bourdon and the Animals contnue to sell-out live shows.
The original Animals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Their influence can be heard in artists as varied as Bruce Springsteen, David Johansen, and Fine Young Cannibals.