Britain’s rising son

Wren Wertin
Special to the DailyEric Burdon has shaped many a music scene, from the British Invasion to psychedelic rock. He plays the Moon tonight at 10 p.m. - sharp.

Burdon and his band, The Animals, were considered one of the “raunchiest, the dirtiest, the spottiest, the most authentic and uncompromisingly raw band of their time.” Part of the British Invasion, they originated in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The musicians took much of their early music from American roots songs. They’re the ones responsible for popularizing “The House of the Rising Sun,” which immediately became the first song many an aspiring guitarist played. Other hits included “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” “We Gotta Get Out of this Place,” “The Story of Bo Didley” and “Sixteen Tons.”

“My first love was jazz as a kid, so I approach rock and roll with a bit of a jazz-lovers head,” said Burdon. “So I can improvise. Instead of people thinking I’m old and drunk, I can play with the words and nobody seems to mind.”

After The Animals disbanded, Burdon went on to the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene, fronting WAR. WAR became the biggest funk band of the 1970s. After he’d played that scene for a while, he turned to Jimmy Witherspoon and the blues.

And now, 40 years after he began, he’s with the Animals again. A different group of musicians, they play a lot of the old hits – with a twist.

“People seem to enjoy the new throw that we put on the songs,” he said. “And that allows me to sing the same songs again and again and still have them be new. They’re not just songs, they’re anthems. Usually the audience sings, and they know all the words.”

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Burdon has been working on several projects for the past few years, including the release of a biography, two documentaries in production, and a new album that’s been recorded. It won’t be released until he decides which company to release it through.

“It’s a relief to get back on the road,” he said.

Music has driven his life, but he doesn’t consider it to be the most important thing out there.

“I think I love women most,” he said, with a laugh.

But it’s music that pays the bills.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555, ext. 618.

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