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Eric Victor Burdon (born 11 May 1941) is an English singer-songwriter best known as a member and vocalist of rock band the Animals and the funk band War and for his aggressive stage performance. He was ranked 57th in Rolling Stone's list The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.
Burdon was lead singer of the Animals, formed during 1962 in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. The original band was the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo, which formed in 1958; they became the Animals shortly after Burdon joined the band. The Animals combined electric blues with rock and in the USA were one of the leading bands of the British Invasion. Along with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Hollies, the Dave Clark Five, and the Kinks, the group introduced British music and fashion. Burdon's powerful voice can be heard on the Animals' singles "The House of the Rising Sun", "Sky Pilot", "Monterey", "I'm Crying", "Boom Boom", "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", "Bring It On Home to Me", "Baby Let Me Take You Home", "It's My Life", "We Gotta Get out of This Place", "Don't Bring Me Down" and "See See Rider".
By late 1966, the other original members, including keyboardist Alan Price and drummer John Steel, had left. 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." 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. 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".
In 1975, the original Animals reunited and recorded an album called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, released in 1977 and overlooked due to the dawning of punk. In May 1983, the Animals reunited with their original line-up and released the album Ark on 16 June 1983, along with the singles "The Night" and "Love Is For All Time". A world tour followed, and the concert at Wembley Arena, London, recorded on 31 December 1983, was released in 1984 as Rip it to Shreds. Their concert at the Royal Oak Theatre in April 1984 was released in 2008 as Last Live Show; the band members were augmented by Zoot Money, Nippy Noya, Steve Gregory and Steve Grant. The original Animals broke up for the last time at the end of 1984.
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. The 1998 band had bassist Dave Meros, guitarist Dean Restum, drummer Aynsley Dunbar and keyboard guitarist Neal Morse. They recorded Live at the Coach House on 17 October 1998, released on video and DVD in December that year. In 1999 they released The Official Live Bootleg No. 2 and in August 2000 The Official Live Bootleg 2000, with Martin Gerschwitz on keyboards.
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.
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. On 9 September 2013 Burdon's appeal was allowed. Eric Burdon is now entitled to use the name "The Animals" in the UK.
In 1969, while living in San Francisco, Burdon joined forces with Californian funk rock band War. In April 1970, the resulting album created as a result of this association was entitled 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 later 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.
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?"
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.
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 with a line-up including guitarist Alexis Korner and keyboardist Zoot Money; the album also had a line-up of four guitarists and three keyboard players and is known for its interesting album cover, which depicts Burdon screaming. The album was produced by former Animal's bassist Chas Chandler. The original release included a booklet of illustrated lyrics done in ink by Burdon himself.
In May 1978, he recorded the album Darkness Darkness at the Roundwood House in County Laois, Ireland, using Ronnie Lane's Mobile Studio and featuring guitarist and vocalist Bobby Tench from the Jeff Beck Group, who had left Streetwalkers a few months before. The album was eventually released in 1980. During January 1979, Burdon changed his band for a tour taking in Hamburg, Germany and the Netherlands.
On 28 August 1982, the "Eric Burdon Band" including Red Young (keyboards) performed at the Rockpalast Open Air Concert in Lorelei, Germany. Following this Burdon toured heavily with his solo project from March 1984 to March 1985, taking in UK, Spain, Germany, Sweden, Canada and Australia. In 1986, Burdon published his autobiography entitled I Used To Be An Animal, But I'm Alright Now.
In March 1979, he played a concert in Cologne and changed the band's name to "Eric Burdon's Fire Department", whose line-up included backing vocalist Jackie Carter of Silver Convention, Bertram Engel of Udo Lindenberg's "Panik Orchester" and Jean-Jaques Kravetz. In mid 1980, they recorded the album The Last Drive. "Eric Burdon's Fire Department" toured Europe with this line-up and Paul Millins and Louisiana Red made special appearances in Spain and Italy. By December 1980, the band had broken up.
In April 1981, Christine Buschmann began to film Comeback with Burdon as the star. They created a new "Eric Burdon Band" whose line-up included Louisiana Red, Tony Braunagle, John Sterling and Snuffy Walden. This band recorded live tracks in Los Angeles. They also recorded in Berlin with another line-up, the only remaining member being John Sterling. In September 1981, the final scenes of Comeback were shot in the Berlin Metropole and Burdon and his band continued to tour through Australia and North America. A studio album titled Comeback was released in 1982. The 1983 album Power Company also included songs recorded during the Comeback project.
In 1988, he put together a band with 15 musicians including Andrew Giddings – keyboards, Steve Stroud – bass, Adrian Sheppard – drums, Jamie Moses – guitar and four backing vocalists to record the album I Used To Be An Animal in Malibu, in the United States. In 1990, Eric Burdon's cover version of "Sixteen Tons" was used for the film Joe Versus the Volcano. The song, which played at the beginning of the film, was also released as a single. He also recorded the singles "We Gotta Get out of this Place" with Katrina & the Waves and "No Man's Land" with Tony Carey and Anne Haigis. Later in 1990, he had a small line-up of an Eric Burdon Band featuring Jimmy Zavala (sax and harmonica), Dave Meros(bass), Jeff Naideau (keyboards), Thom Mooney (drums) and John Sterling (guitar) before he began a tour with the Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and they appeared at a concert from Ventura Beach, California, which was released as a DVD on 20 June 2008.
On 13 April 2004, he released a "comeback" album, My Secret Life, which was his first album with new recordings for 16 years. When John Lee Hooker died in 2001, Burdon had written the song "Can't Kill the Boogieman" the co-writers of the songs, on the album, were Tony Braunagel and Marcelo Nova. In 2005, they released a live album, Athens Traffic Live, with special DVD bonus material and a bonus studio track and disbanded in November 2005. He began a short touring as the "Blues Knights".
On 27 January 2006, he released his blues–R&B album Soul of a Man. This album was dedicated to Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker. The cover of the album was a picture which was sent to Burdon a few years before. Burdon then formed a new band, with the following members: Red Young (keyboards), Paula O'Rourke (bass), Eric McFadden (guitar), Carl Carlton (guitar) and Wally Ingram (drums). They also performed at the Lugano Festival and in 2007 he toured as the headlining act of the "Hippiefest" line-up, produced and hosted by Country Joe McDonald.
Burdon, at 71, recorded an E.P. with Cincinnati garage band the Greenhornes called, simply, Eric Burdon & the Greenhornes. The album was recorded at an all-analogue recording studio, and released on 23 November 2012 as part of Record Store Day's "Black Friday."
In 2013, Eric Burdon 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.
In 1991, Burdon and Brian Auger formed the "Eric Burdon – Brian Auger Band" with the following line-up: Eric Burdon – vocals, Brian Auger – keyboards, vocals, Dave Meros – bass, vocals, Don Kirkpatrick – guitar, vocals and Paul Crowder – drums, vocals. By 1992, Larry Wilkins replaced Kirkpatrick and Karma Auger (Brian's son) replaced Crowder and in 1993 they added Richard Reguria (percussion). The live album Access All Areas was then released. In 1994 the "Eric Burdon – Brian Auger Band" disbanded. Burdon then formed the "Eric Burdon's i Band". The line-up included Larry Wilkins, Dean Restum (guitar), Dave Meros (bass) and Mark Craney (drums).
In 1995, Burdon made a guest appearance with Bon Jovi, singing "It's My Life"/"We Gotta Get out of This Place" medley at the Hall of Fame. He also released the album Lost Within the Halls of Fame, with past tracks and re-recordings of some songs from I Used to be an Animal. In October 1996, Aynsley Dunbar replaced Craney on drums. The Official Live Bootleg was recorded in 1997 and in May that year Larry Wilkins died of cancer. He also released the compilations Soldier of Fortune and I'm Ready which featured recordings from the 1970s and 1980s.
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. On 3 March 2002, the live album Live in Seattle was recorded. Ex-War member Lee Oskar made a guest appearance on the album. In 2003 he made a guest appearance on the album Joyous in the City of Fools by the Greek rock band Pyx Lax, singing lead vocal on "Someone Wrote 'Save me' On a Wall".
In 2001, his second critically acclaimed memoir, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," written with author/filmmaker J. Marshall Craig, was released in the US, followed by editions in Greece, Germany and Australia; it covers the British Invasion, moving to Los Angeles and Palm Springs, and various anecdotes about Rock and Roll stardom.
On 7 June 2008, Burdon performed at the memorial service of Bo Diddley in Gainesville, Florida. During July and August 2008, Burdon appeared as the headline act of the "Hippiefest". He also recorded the single "For What It's Worth" with Carl Carlton and Max Buskohl.
On 12 November 2008, Rolling Stone ranked Eric Burdon No. 57 on the list of the 100 Greatest Singers of all Time. 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). On 7 August, the tour ended.
On Monday 28 January 2013, Eric Burdon made a rare appearance performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, backed by the Roots. Fallon hyped Burdon's current album, 'Til Your River Runs Dry.
On Tuesday 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.
The sound of the Animals influenced many Britpop, alternative rock and power pop groups as well as the bands Deep Purple, the Black Crowes, the Hives, Grand Funk Railroad, MC5, the White Stripes and his voice has been highly respected by many singers such as Jim Morrison, Robert Plant, Tom Petty, David Johansen, Joe Cocker, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Hunter, Ryan Adams, Julian Thome, Jack White, John Mellencamp and Dan Zanes.
Burdon wanted to act in the film Blowup (1966). Director Michelangelo Antonioni wanted to use him as a musician in a club scene, but Burdon turned the role down because he had acted in films before in which he sang songs. He disbanded the Animals and went to California, where he met Jim Morrison and came to the realisation that his real inspiration was acting.
Later, he turned down major roles in Zabriskie Point and Performance (both 1970).
In 1973, he formed the Eric Burdon Band and recorded the soundtrack for his own film project, Mirage. He spent much money to make this film, produced as a film for Atlantic. The film and the soundtrack were to be released in July 1974, but somehow they never were. The soundtrack was released in 2008.
In 1979, he acted in the TV film The 11th Victim, then in the German film Gibbi – Westgermany (1980). In 1982, he starred in another German film, Comeback, again as a singer.
In 1991, he had a cameo appearance in The Doors.
In 1998, he acted as himself in the Greek film My Brother and I, followed by a bigger role in the German film Snow on New Year's Eve (1999).
In the following years, he was credited in many documentaries and in an independent film called Fabulous Shiksa in Distress (2003), along with Ned Romero and Ted Markland.
In 2007, he performed the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" in the drama festival film The Blue Hour and in a documentary about Joshua Tree, called Nowhere Now (2008).