May 11: British vocalist Eric Burdon of The Animals and War is 70 years-old today.

Eric Victor Burdon is best known as a founding member and lead vocalist of The Animals, and the funk rock band War.

He was ranked 57th in Rolling Stone's list - The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

The Animals - originally known as the Alan Price Combo - were formed in 1958 in Newcastle, England. They became the Animals in 1962 shortly after Burdon joined the band. They combined electric blues with rock and were one of the top bands during the "British Invasion" of the U.S.

Burdon's powerful voice can be heard in The Animals singles "The House of the Rising Sun," "Sky Pilot," "Monterey," "I'm Crying," "Boom Boom," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Bring It On Home to Me," "Baby Let Me Take You Home," "It's My Life," "We Gotta Get out of This Place," "Don't Bring Me Down," and "See See Rider."

By late 1966 the other original members, including keyboardist Alan Price, had left. Burdon and drummer Barry Jenkins reformed the group as Eric Burdon and The Animals. This more psychedelic incarnation featured future Family member John Weider and was sometimes called Eric Burdon and the New Animals. Keyboardist Zoot Money joined during 1968 until they split up in 1969.

This group's hits included the ballad "San Franciscan Nights," the grunge–heavy metal-pioneering "When I Was Young," "Monterey," the anti-Vietnam anthem "Sky Pilot" and the progressive cover of "Ring of Fire."

During 1969, while living in San Francisco, Burdon joined forces with Californian funk rock band War. The resulting album was entitled Eric Burdon Declares "War" which produced the singles "Spill the Wine" and "Tobacco Road."

A two-disc set entitled The Black-Man's Burdon, was released later in September 1970. The singles from the double album, "Paint It, Black" and "They Can't Take Away Our Music," had moderate success during 1971. During this time Burdon collapsed on the stage during a concert, caused by an asthma attack, and War continued the tour without him.

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In 1976 a compilation album, Love Is All Around, was released by ABC Records which had recordings of Eric Burdon with War and a live version of "Paint it Black" and a jam session called "A Day In The Life."

Eric Burdon and War were reunited for the first time in 37 years, to perform a concert at the Royal Albert Hall London on 21 April 2008. The concert coincided with a major reissue campaign by Rhino Records (UK), who released all the War albums including Eric Burdon Declares "War" and The Black-Man's Burdon.

Burdon also began a solo career in 1971 with The Eric Burdon Band, continuing with a hard rock–heavy metal–funk style. In August 1971 he recorded the album Guilty! which featured the blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon, and also Ike White of the San Quentin Prison Band.

At the end of 1974 the band released the album Sun Secrets and this was followed by the album Stop in 1975. Burdon moved to Germany in 1977 and recorded the album Survivor.

In 1975 the original Animals reunited and recorded an album called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted, released in 1977 and was largely overlooked.  In May 1983 The Animals reunited with their original lineup and the album Ark was released in June 1983, along with the singles "The Night" and "Love Is For All Time."

A world tour followed and the concert at Wembley Arena, London, recorded on December 31, 1983 was released in 1984 as Rip It To Shreds. Their concert at the Royal Oak Theatre in April 1984 was released in 2008 entitled Last Live Show. Added to the band were Zoot Money, Nippy Noya, Steve Gregory and Steve Grant. The original Animals broke up for the last time at the end of 1984.

Although the band Burdon formed in the late '60s was sometimes called Eric Burdon and The New Animals, it wasn't until 1998 that the name Eric Burdon and The New Animals was officially adopted. The 1998 band had bassist Dave Meros, guitarist Dean Restum , drummer Aynsley Dunbar and keyboard guitarist Neal Morse.

They recorded Live At The Coach House on October 17, 1998, released on video and DVD in December that year. In 1999 they released The Official Live Bootleg #2 and in August 2000 The Official Live Bootleg 2000, with Martin Gerschwitz on keyboards.

In June 2003, he formed another Eric Burdon and The Animals, with keyboardist Martin Gerschwitz, bassist Dave Meros, guitarist Dean Restum, and drummer Bernie Pershey. They disbanded in 2005. During 2008 Burdon toured again as Eric Burdon and The Animals with a variable lineup of backing musicians.

In December 2008, Burdon lost a three-year legal battle to win the name "The Animals" in the UK. Drummer John Steel now owns the rights in the UK only.

Burdon still tours as Eric Burdon and the Animals, but is prevented from using the name "The Animals" in England while the case is under appeal. Steel was a member in its heyday and left before the band split in 1966. Steel later played in various reunion versions of the band with Burdon.
In the late 70s, his house in California was burned down by his ex-wife Rosie Marks. Much of his archival material, including footage, records, lyrics, scripts, diaries and pictures were destroyed.



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