The Animals: True Rock Royalty

Uncompromising, unpretentious, wild, raw, soulful. No other 1960s British Invasion band spoke more truthfully or more directly in recordings and, especially, in live performances than did the Animals. Indeed, no rock group of any era more faithfully conveyed the pure extract of rock and roll, rhythm and blues, as “House of the Rising Sun,” “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “Bring It on Home to Me,” “It’s My Life,” and the early hits prove. Later in the decade, their legendary lead vocalist, Eric Burdon, formed Eric Burdon and the Animals, and brilliantly infused blues rock/hard rock/psychedelic sounds into more top twenty hits—“When I Was Young,” “San Franciscan Nights,” “Monterey,” and “Sky Pilot.”
Despite their 1994 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Animals have remained distressingly underappreciated. The Animals: True Rock Royalty elevates their legacy and affirms the band’s accomplishments and widespread influence. None other than Bruce Springsteen professed that the Animals inspired “every song that I’ve ever written.” And Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner asserted that “the Animals can now be recognized as a key link in the evolving transition from black R & B to punk rock.”
If ever a rock band reflected the era in which they played, then it must be the Animals to the 1960s. To know their story is to know that decade. And it is no exaggeration to suggest that for part of that thrilling and prolific time in rock history the Animals were, for a little while, nearly as popular as the Beatles.
The Animals: True Rock Royalty traces the original group’s humble Newcastle beginnings and meteoric ascent to international fame; the drug and alcohol issues, poor management, and internal conflicts that led to a breakup; Eric Burdon’s new band of Animals; and the acrimonious (original) Animals reunion attempts. Personal reflections from the author and others offer compelling insights regarding the band’s groundbreaking contributions to rock music in this much-needed fresh appraisal.