The Animals biography
The Animals' two-year chart career, produced by Mickie Most, featured intense, gritty pop music covers such as Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" and the Nina Simone-popularised number "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood". In contrast, their album tracks stayed with rhythm and blues, with John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and Ray Charles' "I Believe to My Soul" as notable examples.
In November 1964, the group was poised to make their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show and begin a short residency performing regularly in theatres across New York City. The group arrived in New York City direct from John F. Kennedy International Airport in a motorcade formed of Sunbeam Alpine Series IV convertibles, with each individual car featuring a member of the band riding with a model in the back seat with the top down. The group drove to their hotel accompanied by the occasional shrieks of girls who had chased them down once they discovered who they were. The Animals sang "I'm Crying" and "The House of the Rising Sun" to a packed audience of hysterical girls screaming throughout both performances on Sullivan's show. In December, the MGM movie Get Yourself a College Girl was released with the Animals headlining with the Dave Clark Five. The Animals sang a Chuck Berry song, "Around and Around", in the movie.
By May 1965 the group was starting to feel internal pressures. Price left due to personal and musical differences as well as fear of flying on tour. He went on to a successful career as a solo artist and with The Alan Price Set. Mick Gallagher filled in for him on keyboards for a short time until Dave Rowberry replaced him and was on hand for the hit songs "We Gotta Get out of This Place" and "It's My Life".
Around that time, the Animals put together a big band to play at the 5th Annual British Jazz & Blues Festival in Richmond. The Animals Big Band made their one public appearance on 5 August 1965. As well as Burdon, Rowberry, Valentine, Chandler, and Steel, they featured a brass/horn section of Ian Carr, Kenny Wheeler and Greg Brown on trumpets, and Stan Robinson, Al Gay, Dick Morrissey and Paul Carroll on saxophones.
Many of the Animals' hits had come from Brill Building songwriters recruited by Mickie Most; the group, and Burdon in particular, felt this too creatively restrictive. As 1965 ended, the group ended its association with Most, signed a new deal with their American label MGM Records for the US and Canada, switched to Decca Records for the rest of the world and MGM Records producer Tom Wilson, who gave them more artistic freedom. In early 1966 MGM collected their hits on The Best of the Animals; it became their best-selling album in the US. In February 1966, Steel left and was replaced by Barry Jenkins. A leftover rendition of Goffin-King's "Don't Bring Me Down" was the last hit as the Animals. For the single "See See Rider" the band changed its name to Eric Burdon & the Animals. By September 1966, this lineup of the group had dissipated.
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