Eric Burdon: Bruce Springsteen’s biggest influence keeps The Animals and British Invasion flame burning brightly
Q: The Animals were formed in 1962, which means this marks the 50th anniversary of the band. What’s your fondest memory of those early years and what was The Animals’ first public performance?
A: 1962, eh? Wow. We really did begin too early. I can’t really nail down our first appearance, so let’s say the first gig we did was when we had to travel on the road to do an appearance. That would have been our travel from Newcastle to Liverpool to play at The Cavern, where The Beatles had their regular hometown gig. This place was a sight to see. It was a full house and bodies were writhing around on the dance floor. The sandstone vaulted ceiling was dripping with water. That, combined with a mixture of body heat made it feel like limestone beads were raining on us. We expected an electrical short at any second. The crowd’s screams sounded like a jet plane on afterburners. You could say we were very well received. Our gig wagon was a blue one-quarter ton “commer” (commercial) van. While we were inside the venue performing, the fans had left their mark on the van. The mirrors had been torn off and the radio antenna was gone. Worse than that, the van had been scrawled over with lipstick of many colors. We couldn’t get the lipstick off, but we had to drive it to our gigs in London, nearly blinded by the waxy colors on all the windows. Our success with those London audiences after this Liverpool gig led to a recording deal with EMI.
Q: There has been much publicity about bands like The Beach Boys going on a 50th anniversary tour. Does it bother you maybe that The Animals get lost in the shuffle when talking about these other bands?
A: I saw them — the Beach Boys — on TV a few nights ago during the Grammys. All I have to say is good luck.
Q: Tell me about touring with the current band now.
A: The current Animals are Red Young (keyboards, organ), Terry Wilson (bass), Billy Watts (guitars), and Brannen Temple (drums). We’ve had sell-out gigs constantly for the last four or five years. We’ve been off the road for a few months recording a new studio album. It’s scheduled for release in the late spring/early summer. We’re going to SXSW in mid-March and then we will be on the road with appearances worldwide.