Culture&Showbiz / Music

Animals roar on after 50 years in the wild

INCARNATION: Animals and Friends keep the spirit of the 60s going

INCARNATION: Animals and Friends keep the spirit of the 60s going

FIFTY years have passed since The Animals’ take on House of the Rising Sun propelled the group of working-class Geordies from beer drinking tearaways to sophisticated stars at the heart of the swinging ’60s.

They were the first British band after the Beatles to storm the states and clocked up 10 Top-Twenty hits in both the UK and US charts.

With half-a-century passing and a number of line-up changes since, original member and drummer John Steel is still going strong with the Animals and Friends incarnation as they tour once more with legendary guitarist Steve Cropper.

“The band is in cracking form at the moment. We have had a couple of changes over the years but the line-up is so tight at the moment,” said John.

“We are getting a real buzz off it. When you get to enjoy yourself on stage there is a buzz which feedbacks from yourself and the audience.

“I have never felt why stop if you’re enjoying yourself. I feel really lucky to be able to do this, something that I love doing.”

John, 73, now resides closer to home in Northumberland after leaving his northern roots for London upon finding fame back in 1964.

The move from Gateshead to the Capital was a huge culture shock for John but it opened up a whole new world for the band.

SOUL MAN: Steve Cropper will be joining Animals and Friends during the tour

SOUL MAN: Steve Cropper will be joining Animals and Friends during the tour

“You grow up in an environment that you didn’t know from any other. It wasn’t until we upped stakes to London in ’63 that we felt the difference,” said John.

INSPIRED: Bruce Springsteen recently declared The Animals as his inspiration

INSPIRED: Bruce Springsteen recently declared The Animals as his inspiration (credit: Jo Lopez)

“Back then in the north east every building was black, it was a pretty grubby place because of the industries and the ship yards. In retrospect it was a bit grim.

“The Beatles opened it up for everyone. We started to take off in London and we were part of the scene.”

In a career spanning over 50 years, John and his band mates have a catalogue of highlights that include being a part of the famous British Invasion.

House of the Rising Sun became the first song by a British band to reach number one in the United States after The Beatles.

Although originally blocked by the BBC for being too long, the number of records sold ensured the full four and a half minutes were aired.

John added: “That track opened the gate for us and America.

“All of our influences came from across the water, and in those days it was a really expensive thing to travel there.

“The chances of five Geordies flying to America were slim but there we were, jetting off to open up the Paramount Theatre at Times Square in New York. That was one of the biggest buzzes of the lot.”

Things came to a 360 recently when US rock-star Bruce Springsteen declared that it was in fact The Animals who influenced him, declaring them a ‘revelation’.

“That was really generous of him. I had heard that before a long time ago when he first heard It’s My Life,” said John.

That inspired him to go for it as a career. He was touring last year and everywhere he went he said every song he wrote was inspired by our songs – it’s really good of him.”

Animals and Friends are currently on their fourth tour with soul music legend Steve Cropper and plans are already in motion for a fifth next year.

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One Comment

  1. I agree with 積.It’s much better if we can make amainl cruelty to become a “taboo”, much like bullying or even murder. Raising the penalty is a resort to reflect that this is unacceptable rather than as a deterrant – as we discussed earlier those who do it do not feel they have the danger of being caught….Connie

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