During the whirlwind British Invasion of the 1960’s, the migration of recording acts to hit North American shores was dizzying.

The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Dave Clark 5, The Who and countless others all blazed early trails; firmly establishing their place atop British rock royalty.

But it was The Animals who carved out a more unique musical niche’.

And unlike their myriad musical peers, it was their love of American rhythm and blues that put them in a class all by themselves.

“We worshipped the sounds that came from Black America,” recalls lead singer Eric Burdon.

“We were definitely more inspired by the blues and rhythm and blues than some of our contemporaries—Blues was our religion.

And unlike their myriad musical peers, it was their love of American rhythm and blues that put them in a class all by themselves.

The Beatles and the Mersey Beat groups were more Buddy Holly and Everly Brothers-influenced than the Animals or the Stones, for example.

But the record companies were just trying whatever new sound came out of England.”

For those that didn’t personally bear witness, the British Invasion became a seismic tidal wave of musical dominance and to say the entire movement swayed generations of music fans would be an understatement.

“We were kids doing what came naturally to us and not thinking too much about the future,” Burdon adds.

“It was just wonderful coming of age in the UK – So free. None of us, Beatles included, had any idea that we were embarking on a career that would have such a long-lasting power.”

Hitting the top of the pop music charts in 1964 with ‘House of the Rising Sun’, The Animals would soon rack up a continuous string of hit songs that included such timeless classics as ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, ‘It’s My Life’, Monterey’ and ‘San Franciscan Nights’.

“Back then, we all wanted to experience London and we would exchange gigs in our local venues with bands from out of town, such as the Stones and the Beatles,” he says.

“They’d all come play in Newcastle and we’d go play in Liverpool, Manchester or London.

The minute we set foot on US soil—in the land where the music we worshipped was first created—we felt like we’d made it.”

Never one to stick to formulaic songs, Burdon continues to record and perform his way and is definitely not about to confine himself to any one category.

“I never felt limited by what type of musical expression was available to me,” he adds.

“I came from jazz, originally, so it wasn’t much of a leap to free-form, experimental rock and roll.

Joe Leary with Eric Burdon
Joe Leary with Eric Burdon during his recent Vancouver appearance

Later, with ‘Spill the Wine’ we were doing rap or spoken word and improvisation. I always stay true to what I feel and what I want to express.

The problem that management and record companies had then and still have with me today is that they can’t categorize me.

They can’t place me in a bin in a record store and say “This is the Blues” or “This is Americana” or “rock.”

But it’s always definitely me.