Backstage with Eric Burdon vocalist of The Animals & War

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – Sun July 24, 2022

Eric Victor Burdon (born 11 May 1941)[3] is an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was previously the vocalist of rock band the Animals and funk band War.[4] He is regarded as one of the British Invasion’s most distinctive singers with his deep, powerful blues-rock voice. He is also known for his aggressive stage performances.[5]

In 2008, he was ranked 57th in Rolling Stone’s list The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.[6]

Eric Burdon was born in 1941 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. His father, Matt, was originally from Tyneside. His mother, Rene, was originally from Ireland and moved to Scotland before settling in Newcastle in the 1930s. He also had a younger sister, Irene.[7] Burdon states he often had a divided loyalty in his sense of place and identity. He was born to a lower working-class family; his father did electrical work in some of the clubs Burdon would later play. Because of his dad’s line of work in electrical repair, the Burdon family had a TV by the time Eric was 10; in his autobiography, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, he recalls the electrifying moment of first seeing Louis Armstrong on TV which began his love for blues music. This led him to take up the trombone. However, realizing that he wasn’t that good a player, he took up singing and went to Newcastle Art College.[8] In a song he wrote, “When I Was Young”, he states he met his first love at 13, who was very experienced while he was not. He also says he smoked his first cigarette at 10 years old and would skip school with his friends to drink brown ale.

Eric Burdon & The Animals – When I Was Young (1967)

Burdon describes his early school years as a “dark nightmare” that “should’ve been penned by Charles Dickens.” Due to the river pollution and humidity in Newcastle he suffered asthma attacks daily. During primary school, he was “stuck at the rear of the classroom of around 40 to 50 kids and received constant harassment from kids and teachers alike”. He goes on to say his primary school was “jammed between a slaughterhouse and a shipyard on the banks of the Tyne. Some teachers were sadistic – others pretended not to notice – and sexual molestation and regular corporal punishment with a leather strap was the order of the day”.[8]

The Animals

Burdon was lead singer of the Animals, formed during 1962 in Newcastle upon Tyne. The original band was the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, which formed in 1958;[11] they became the Animals shortly after Burdon joined the band. The Animals combined electric blues with rock; in the US they were considered one of the leading bands of the British Invasion.[12] Along with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, and the Kinks, the group introduced contemporary British music and fashion to American audiences. Burdon’s powerful voice can be heard on the Animals’ singles “The House of the Rising Sun”, “Baby Let Me Take You Home”, “I’m Crying”, “Boom Boom”, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, “Bring It On Home to Me”, “We Gotta Get out of This Place”, “It’s My Life”, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, “See See Rider”, “Monterey”, and “Sky Pilot”.

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The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (1964) HQ/Widescreen

The Animals – Bring It On Home To Me (clip, 1965) ??

Eric Burdon & The Animals Sky Pilot

The Animals’ keyboardist Alan Price left the band in May 1965, and drummer John Steel followed in April 1966.[13] Burdon has often attributed the disintegration of the band to conflict with Price, specifically that Price had claimed sole rights and ownership to “House of the Rising Sun”.[14] Burdon and drummer Barry Jenkins reformed the group as Eric Burdon and the Animals. This more psychedelic incarnation featured future Family member John Weider and was sometimes called Eric Burdon and the New Animals. Keyboardist Zoot Money joined during 1968 until the band split up in 1969.[15] This group’s hits included the ballad “San Franciscan Nights”, the grunge–heavy metal-pioneering “When I Was Young”, “Monterey”, the anti-Vietnam anthem “Sky Pilot”, “White Houses” and the progressive cover of “Ring of Fire”.
The animals- San Francisco nights ( lyrics)

Although the band Burdon formed in the late 1960s was sometimes called Eric Burdon and the New Animals, it wasn’t until 1998 that the name Eric Burdon and the New Animals was officially adopted.

In June 2003, he formed another Eric Burdon and the Animals, with keyboardist Martin Gerschwitz, bassist Dave Meros, guitarist Dean Restum, and drummer Bernie Pershey. They disbanded in 2005. During 2008 Burdon toured again as Eric Burdon and the Animals with a variable line-up of backing musicians.[19]

On 13 December 2008, Burdon lost a three-year legal battle to win the name “the Animals” in the UK. Since then drummer John Steel owned the rights in the UK only. Burdon still tours as Eric Burdon and the Animals, but was prevented from using the name “the Animals” in Britain while the case was under appeal. Steel was a member in its heyday and left in 1966, before the band split up 3 years later in 1969. Steel later played in various reunion versions of the band with Burdon.[20] On 9 September 2013 Burdon’s appeal was allowed.[21] Burdon is now entitled to use the band name in the UK.

In 2016, Burdon formed the current lineup of the Animals, including Johnzo West (guitar/vocals), Davey Allen (keys/vocals), Dustin Koester (drums/vocals), Justin Andres (bass guitar/vocals), Ruben Salinas (sax/flute), and Evan Mackey (trombone).[22]

On May 10, 2018, the night before Burdon’s 77th birthday, he and the Animals played to a packed house at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium in Lynn, Massachusetts. The 12 song set included his 1966 hit, “When I Was Young.” [23]


In 1969, while living in San Francisco, Burdon joined forces with Californian funk rock band War. In April 1970, the resulting album was titled Eric Burdon Declares “War” which produced the singles “Spill the Wine” and “Tobacco Road”. A two-disc set entitled The Black-Man’s Burdon was released in September 1970. The singles from the double album, “Paint It Black” and “They Can’t Take Away Our Music”, had moderate success during 1971. During this time Burdon collapsed on the stage during a concert, caused by an asthma attack, and War continued the tour without him.

Eric Burdon & War – Spill the Wine (1970 )

In 1976, a compilation album, Love Is All Around, released by ABC Records, included recordings of Eric Burdon with War doing a live version of “Paint It Black” and a cover of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life.” The band also featured ex-NFL star Deacon Jones who coined the term “quarterback sack” and sang on the band’s 1975 song “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

WAR – “Why Can’t We Be Friends” (Live at KAABOO Del Mar 2018 in Del Mar, CA)

Eric Burdon and War were reunited for the first time in 37 years, to perform an Eric Burdon & War reunion at the concert at the Royal Albert Hall London on 21 April 2008. The concert coincided with a major reissue campaign by Rhino Records (UK), which released all the War albums including Eric Burdon Declares “War” and The Black-Man’s Burdon.

Solo career

Burdon began a solo career in 1971 with the Eric Burdon Band, continuing with a hard rock–heavy metal–funk style. In August 1971, he recorded the album Guilty! which featured the blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon, and also Ike White of the San Quentin Prison Band. In 1973, the band performed at the Reading Festival and in 1974 they travelled to New York City. At the end of 1974, the band released the album Sun Secrets and this was followed by the album Stop in 1975. Burdon moved to Germany in 1977 and recorded the album Survivor.

Eric continued his career & producing albums until In 2013 when he came out with a new album called, Til Your River Runs Dry. The lead single off the album was called “Water” and was inspired by a conversation he had with former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev.[28]

In 2000, he recorded the song “Power to the People” together with Ringo Starr and Billy Preston for the motion picture Steal This Movie!. On 11 May 2001, the Animals were inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame on Burdon’s 60th birthday.

In 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Eric Burdon No. 57 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers of all Time.

Power To The People – Eric Burdon & The Animals Benirras Ibiza

On 22 January 2009 he first performed with his new band, including keyboardist Red Young, guitarist Rick Hirsch, bass player Jack Bryant and drummer Ed Friedland. For a few months he was sick and did not perform except in the United States. On 26 June, he began his European tour. The band includes Red Young (keyboards), Billy Watts (guitar), Terry Wilson (bass), Brannen Temple (drums) and Georgia Dagaki (cretan lyra).

Eric Burdon & The Animals – House of the Rising Sun (Live, 2011)

On 28 January 2013, Eric Burdon performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, backed by the Roots. Fallon hyped Burdon’s current album, Til Your River Runs Dry.

On 23 July 2013, he guested on stage with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Cardiff Millennium Stadium, performing “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.”

In August 2013, he toured with Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo.

To this day he still appears in Las Vegas.

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