This biography was written by Micheal J. Tolan, who is pretty much an expert on Burdon. I don't think I could have written one nearly as good as this without pretty much copying it.
Eric Burdon's life has been a musical journey matched by few other performers in modern music history. He has gone from the driving force of the grittiest of the British Invasion bands, to the psychedelic pioneer in the San Francisco rock scene, to fronting the biggest funk band of the 70's, to cutting a blues LP with jazz-blues great Jimmy Witherspoon, to coming full-circle and reuniting his original band for a world-wide tour. Amidst and after these many ventures Burdon recorded numerous solo LP's, particularly during his decade-long stay in Germany. The popularity of these projects and ever-present live gigs gave rise to the semi-autobiographical film COMEBACK, for which he starred in and performed the entire soundtrack. His other acting forays include THE ELEVENTH VICTIM, THE REBELLIOUS JUKEBOX, GIBBI WEST GERMANY, THE DOORS, CHINA BEACH, and numerous other projects. His soundtrack work has appeared in dozens of projects ranging from the television program THE WONDER YEARS, to the documentary films THE LONDON SCENE & THE BIG PINK, to the cult films GOING TO WAR & THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART, major motion picture productions such as Tom Hanks' JOE vs.THE VOLCANO, Edward James Olmos' AMERICAN ME, John Irvin's HAMBURGER HILL, Martin Scorsese's CASINO, and Paul Anderson's critically acclaimed BOOGIE NIGHTS. His international popularity has extended his range to several foreign soundtrack projects including the German film DIE KATZE, and the French film HU MAN.
Burdon's lengthy recording career began in Newcastle England, where he first covered songs by his idols, such as Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Josh White, Brownie McGhee, John Lee Hooker, and Jimmie Reed. He and The Animals quickly gained notoriety as England's best R&B band; they were selected by the pirate radio station b>RADIO CAROLINE as the feature for the first broadcast to the U.S. Their growing reputation allowed them the opportunity to support the best blues acts visiting the U.K. They were a part of the very first live R&B recordings in the U.K., when they joined Sonny Boy Williamson for the now famous 1963 New Years Eve concerts shows recorded on primitive equipment, but significant enough to have now been issued on LP and CD over 20 times all around the world - most famously as IN THE BEGINNING...THE ANIMALS and THE ANIMALS & SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON. This raw performance was followed by a more polished outing when The Animals appeared with Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent on renegade Granada TV in 1964, for the WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN' concert feature (released on film as DON'T KNOCK THE ROCK), which showcased their rendition of TALKIN' BOUT YOU, by Ray Charles. Shortly thereafter The Animals took the music world by storm when they recorded and released an electrified version of the trad. folk number, THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN. In short fair they followed with such classics as DON'T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD, WE GOTTA GET OUTTA THIS PLACE, IT'S MY LIFE, I'M CRYING, INSIDE LOOKING OUT, THE STORY OF BO DIDLEY, BRING IT ON HOME TO ME, and SEE SEE RIDER.
As the original Animals slowly disbanded, Burdon appeared in New York to complete a solo project backed by the Harace Ott orchestra. This venture, ERIC IS HERE, was a homage LP; it featured ON THIS SIDE OF GOODBYE, LOSIN' CONTROL, and the motion picture title track for the MGM film THE BIGGEST BUNDLE OF THEM ALL. Burdon quickly re-emerged in California. One of his earlier appearances with his new group was at the famed 1967 MONTEREY INTERNATIONAL POP FESTIVAL, where he performed PAINT IT BLACK, HEY GYP, SAN FRANCISCAN NIGHTS, and a soul-stirring cover of GIN HOUSE BLUES, Burdon & the New Animals can be found on both the edited concert footage, THE MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL, as well as in the famed documentary-director D.A. Pennebaker's MONTEREY POP: THE FILM. They went on to define the era musically with, in addition to SAN FRANCISCAN NIGHTS, such classics as COLORED RAIN, WHEN I WAS YOUNG, WHITE HOUSES, and the fiercely anti-war song SKY PILOT, and the now famous homage to the festival itself, MONTEREY.
Burdon disbanded the New Animals in favor of other interests, though never forgoing his drive to play and listen to live music; he could always be found in the California clubs, both as a fan and also as a performer; especially in impromptu jam sessions with the likes of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. It was on one of his quests for live music that he and future harp great Lee Oskar stumbled across a newly emerging L.A. percussion force. Burdon trimmed the band, added Oskar and himself, and quickly began touring as Eric Burdon & WAR. The debut album ERIC BURDON DECLARES WAR included two immediate classics: the funked version of TOBACCO ROAD, and world-wide hit SPILL THE WINE. An international tour ensued, and the follow-up LP's PAINT IT BLACK, HOME DREAM, and a rendition of A DAY IN THE LIFE, by the Beatles. However, the true success of Eric Burdon & WAR lied in their famous live performances, many of which lasted well over 3 hours.
Burdon subsequently left WAR to their own prominent career. After various projects he once again stumbled across a brilliant live act, in this case one of his idols, jazz-blues great Jimmy Witherspoon. Witherspoon and Burdon began performing together, a fusion which ultimately lead to a collaboration LP, released by Burdon as GUILTY! (renamed BLACK AND WHITE BLUES for CD release) featuring a cover of John Mayall's THE LAWS MUST CHANGE, Chuck Berry's HAVE MERCY JUDGE, and the Burdon original SOLEDAD; this innovative LP also included live longs recorded with Ike White and the San Quentin Prison Band. Burdon's blues projects continued in a new vein when the original Animals regrouped to record the first of two studio reunion albums. BEFORE WE WERE SO RUDELY INTERUPTED, released in 1976, featured a brilliant rendition of Bob Dylan's IT'S ALL OVER NOW, BABY BLUE, Leiber and Stoller's BROTHER BILL, and the original composition, FIRE ON THE SUN. The success of this venture lead to a second reunion in 1983, which produced a collection of new material, a critically acclaimed world tour, and a live LP. The studio project, ARK, featured several extremely popular concert tracks, including THE NIGHT, MY FAVORITE ENEMY, NO JOHN NO, and PRISONER OF THE LIGHT. That year a New Years Eve MTV simulcast followed, as well as a live greatest hits LP, RIP IT TO SHREDS!, which also included an original track from Burdon entitled, IT'S TOO LATE.
Burdon then shose to sontinue his solo career. His new material and many live performances led to the semi-autobiographical film COMEBACK. The material for the movie and soundtrack of the same name was partially culled from two of Burdon's recent European solo LP's THE LAST DRIVE, and DARKNESS, DARKNESS; yet also included substantial new material, later released on several LP's including, DEVIL'S DAUGHTER and POWER COMPANY, and the CD adaption, WICKED MAN.
Following the COMBACK work, there was a flurry of projects and tributes. Burdon followed this latest bit of soundtrack work by completing the manuscript for part one of this autobiography which was published and well-received in 1986 as I USED TO BE AN ANIMAL, BUT I'M ALL RIGHT NOW. Shortly thereafter there appeared a full-length Burdon biography by British educator Jeff Kent, entitled THE LAST POET: THE STORY OF ERIC BURDON. Burdon then released t=his long-awaited autobiographical LP/CD, I USED TO BE AN ANIMAL, featuring the title track, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, and I WILL BE WITH YOU AGAIN. After touring he assisted on Paul Schaffer's 1989 CD COAST TO COAST. In 1991, in celebration of his 50th birthday, the most significant volume detailing Burdon's recording history appeared, GOOD TIMES: THE ULTIMATE BURDON AUDIO-VIDEOGRAPHY, T963-1991, by Dionisio Castello, an Italian professor of Art History. As all of these volumes appeared, Delilah Music Pictures & A*Vision Entertainment were putting the finishing touches on the definitive video documentary of Burdon & the Animals, entitled Finally... Eric Burdon and the Animals, also released in 1991, the same year Burdon was interviewed by Jenny Boyd, for her study of music and creativity, published as MUSICIANS IN TUNE.
Burdon followed up his guest appearance in Oliver Stone's 1991 film THE DOORS with a collaboration with ex-Doors guitarist Robby Krieger; they initiated a nationwide tour including such diverse stops as intimate clubs, major festivals, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The Eric Burdon-Robby Krieger Band played to delighted fans across North America, where their renditions of everything from ROADHOUSE BLUES and BACK DOOR MAN, to DON'T BRING ME DOWN and LOUIE, LOUIE were always crown pleasers. During this tour Burdon was reintroduced to keyboard great and Oblivion Express founder Brian Auger. The introduction eventually led to a long term collaboration, resulting in a lengthy tour and the critically acclaimed 1993 live double CD entitled ACCESS ALL AREAS, which featured in addition to all the Burdon classics, I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU, and the Burdon original, NO MORE ELMORE JAMES; it also included Burdon's studio remix of the classic track 16 TONS.
Burdon has often done his own album cover art and this was acknowledged when in 1994 Jim McMullan's anthology MUSICIANS AS ARTISTS was published, featuring some of his recent work. Just months later Burdon and the original Animals were inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1995 he made a special guest appearance at the HBO CONCERT FOR THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME. In this mega concert stained with technical problems and mediocre performances, Burdon (and his duet partner Jon Bon Jovi) were singled out by reviewers at the San Franciscan Chronicler and other newspapers for their no-nonsense, straight ahead rock renditions of IT'S MY LIFE & WE GOTTA GET OUTTA THIS PLACE. Shortly thereafter, Buron was invited to the 1995 BUMPERSHOOT JIMI HENDRIX TRIBUTE CONCERT, where he joined Noel Redding, Mitch Mitchell, Steve Jordan, Junior Brown, Dr. John and others for a long overdue memorial performance. The year was capped off by a 30-minute British documentary on Burdon and the Animals, featured as a part of the MY GENERATION program, and in 1996 Burdon, James Taylor, Jethro Tull and others assisted in the Mark Craney Benefit CD, SOMETHING WITH A PULSE!
Burdon's legendary roll in rock history has been preserved in the more than 100 television and video performances he has made over the years. Of these, the live recordings are all the more noteworthy, for it is in this un-controlled atmosphere that the best performers truly shine. Burdon's stellar live spots can be found on: READY, STEADY, GO!, THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, GRANADA TV, HULLABALOO, THE DELLA REESE SHOW, SHINDIG, THE BEAT CLUB, DON KIRCSHNER'S ROCK CONCERT, RICK WAKEMAN'S GASTANK, MTV, ROCK PALAST, VH1, and THE DAVID LETTERMAN SHOW. Burdon's place in rock history is without question; he plays a prominent role in every video documentary of the genre. The A&E and BBC mega-documentaries, as well as the Dick Clark productions, and the Time-Life chronologies, all chronicle his distinctive voice and his unique contributions to popular music.
Burdon's latest collaboration, ERIC BURDON'S I BAND, has its own sound, and in addition to the classic Animals songs, its own material. The new band features guitarists Dean Restum and Neal Morse, bassist Dave Meros, and the back-beat of one of the true legends in popular music, Aynsley Dunbar. Burdon's new I-Band tours regularly, and has headlined at numerous tribute concerts and national festivals, and yet always delivers a first-rate performance. His fan support is always strong-as evidence by a 1997 performance at Northhampton's Iron Horse, where a packed house of fans waited over four hours for the band to have a plane re-routed and then be escorted through snowstorm to the Springfield bar. In the music industry virtually everything hinges on the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately principle. So, the question emerges: what has Eric Burdon done lately? Although the answer is as complicated as the performer himself, in recent months Burdon has completed work for a Greek motion picture, been revising volume 2 of his forthcoming autobiography, completing work for an upcoming studio CD, hosting Micky Horne's UK based Virgin Radio show, placing the finishing touches on the editing of a live I-Band CD in memory of guitar great Larry Wilkins, and partaking in an impromptu memorial for the late Linda McCartney. Where can you find Eric Burdon? As made explicit in his autobiographical song THE ROAD, "I don't Live-I don't play this rock and roll". Albeit, the road is where he is.
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