The Alan Price Rhythm And Blues Combo, Price on keyboards, Hilton Valentine on guitar, bassist Bryan "Chas" Chandler, and drummer John Steele, joined forces with singer Eric Burdon in Newcastle upon Tyne early in 1963. The band became known for a rough-edged interpretation of blues and r&b standards and the deep gritty voice of Burdon. They were called "animals" because of their wild stage act, and the name stuck. Moderate hometown success and a connection with Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky prompted them to move to London in 1964, just in time to become part of the British Invasion.
Performing hard-edged versons of songs by the likes of Jimmy Reed, Nina Simone and John Lee Hooker,the band's reputation grew and were subsequently signed to Columbia-EMI Records, their first single being 'Baby Let Me Take You Home". But it was their second single, "House Of The Rising Sun",
that became a #1 hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. Their chart career continued , produced by Micky Most, with "Bring It On Home To Me" and the Nina Simone song, "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood".
In 1965 Alan Price left the group citing tour fatigue and a fear of flying. He was replaced by Dave Rowberry who was on hand for the hits "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and "It's My Life".
Most of The Animals' were written by Brill Building writers recruited by producer Most. The band, particularly Burdon felt this too restricting. At the end of 1965 they switched to Decca Records (MGM in the U.S.) and producer Tom Wilson who gave them more artistic freedom. John Steele left and was replaced by Barry Jenkins, and their last hit as The Animals was Goffin-King composition "Don't Bring Me Down".
Burdon formed Eric Burdon And The New Animals with holdover Jenkins, John Wieder and Vic Briggs both on guitar, and Danny McCulloch on bass in 1966. The direction changed from blues-rock to Burdon's version of psychedelia. They relocated to California.
Hits by this incarnation included "San Franciscan Nights", "I Love You Lil", and two magnificent creations in "Monterey" and "Sky Pilot" At times the band also included keyboardist Zoot Money and future Police guitarist Andy Summers. After the release of a rendition of "River Deep Mountain High" the band again dissolved and Burdon joined forces with Long Beach funk band War in 1969.
The Animals reunited for short periods of time in '68, '75, '76 and '83. They were inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994. They were one of the roughest, toughest squads in the British Invasion.