Once there was a British rock band in the 1960s, who chose to call themselves The Animals. They are best known for their number one hit single ”The House of the Rising Sun” and other hit songs which included “We’ve Gotta Get Out of This Place”, “It’s My Life” and “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”. The band was simply fantastic and I’m sure there are many of you who have heard their number one hit single played many times as it became incredibly popular and is still played on the radio today.
The Animals became part of the British Invasion heading to the U.S. They had a kind of bluesy and gritty sound which was their signature. At one point they went through various changes and with a completely different act headed to California known as Eric Burdon and the Animals becoming part of the psychedelic and hard rock scene, achieving success with such songs as “San Franciscan Nights” and “When I Was Young”. Throughout their career The Animals have had ten top twenty hits on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the U.K. Singles Chart.
The Animals first came together in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England during 1962 and 1963. They chose the name “animals’ because they had a friend who was nicknamed “Animal”. Their first single was on EMI’s Columbia record label “Baby Let Me Take You Home”. It was the in June of 1964 that they skyrocketed to fame with their transatlantic number one hit “House of the Rising Sun”. The song also became their only number one hit.
As with other acts before them The Animals made their U.S. debut in November of 1964 on the ever popular The Ed Sullivan Show and also performed in theaters all over New York City. They arrived in NYC in grand style with a motorcade of Sunbeam Alpine Series IV convertibles coming in from JFK International Airport. What made it such a show was that each member of the band rode in their own convertible with a fashion model beside them in the back and the top of the convertible rolled down.
Another rock and roller Bruce Springsteen said the The Animals and their music were a great influence on him. Mick Jagger was inspired to write “Paint It Black” from The Animals hit “House of the Rising Sun”. Later on The Animals did a cover of “Paint it Black” on their album Winds of Change and performed it at the Monterey Pop Festival.
In December of 1964 an MGM movie “Get Yourself a College Girl” came out in which The Animals sang a Chuck Berry song “Around and Around”. In 1965 the Animals put together a big band in order to play in the 5th Annual British Jazz & Blues Festival. The following year they came out with a collection of their hits The Best of the Animals which became a best-selling album in America. However by the time September of 1966 rolled around The Animals had disbanded.
There were two reunion attempts. The original Animals got together in 1975 and released a great album Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted. Unfortunately the album did not catch the attention of music fans. Among the songs on the album were “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue” and “Many Rivers to Cross”.
They tried it again in 1983 releasing another album Ark with completely new material and did quite well. Among the songs on this album were “Love Is For All Time” and “Crystal Nights”. They took off on a world tour but staying together was not meant to be for The Animals.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and in 2003 their version of “The House of the Rising Sun” ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the same list their “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” came in at number 233 and both of these songs were included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.