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When Newcastle invaded the USA

Written by on 20th January 2021

The Animals – Newcastle invades the US

by Stephen Payne

Last week we talked about Slade and how they rocketed to success in the early to mid-seventies. We mentioned that they were managed by a man named Chas Chandler, who was the original bassist for the Animals. This man also managed Jimi Hendrix, so he must have had quite the ear for good music. But how did this man get his experience?

The Animals were an English Rhythm and Blues and rock band that was originally formed in Newcastle back in 1962 – 63. The original line up of the band consisted of a number of names that would later become famous in the music industry including Eric Burdon’s vocals, Alan Price on the organ and keyboard, Hilton Valentine on the guitar, John Steel on Drums, and of course the previously mentioned Chas Chandler on bass.

The band entertained the local crowds of Newcastle with their wild stage acts. It is said that this is how they got their name. This is debated by Eric Burdon who said that the name came from one of the band’s friends called “Animal” Hogg and it was meant as a tribute to him.

While the band was formed in Newcastle and they were successful there, they decided that if they really wanted to make it, they would have to move on. From the recommendation of Yardbirds manager Giorgio Gomelsky the band decided to move down to London.

The band had some early success in London with their covers of R&B classics by John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone. They would inject their own fiery style into the songs that would be a hallmark of their later success. The band signed to EMI’s Columbia record label, with their first single being a rocky version of “Baby let me follow you down” (Retitled “Baby let me take you home.”)

The band had their first big hit in England and America with “House of the rising sun” on June 1964. The band would go on to have a number of hits and would even be part of the British invasion of the US along with the Beatles. Many bands would take inspiration from them, and they would become a part of music history.